Buddha's tears ran dry for a few days after the brilliant Goorook Oya. Maybe he stopped crying in protest at the number of rivers that have been or are being dammed in this country. Very few drainages are still completely free flowing. Two days of driving and looking at dry river beds finally came to fruition as we made it to Devon and St Claire's falls, famous tourist attractions in the Horton Plains area of Sri Lankan Highlands.
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The takeout above St Clair's Falls
We were denied access at the site of another massive dam, thankfully not yet completed. Not to be defeated, Mahesh got off the beaten track and forged a trail in the bright yellow truck down through a tea plantation on old roads, not exactly stealthy. Our scouting yielded two sections, a short upper section and 15km lower. With some of the day already behind us we decided to take our time and session the drops on the upper. Again big slides and drops were the order of the day and we ran every line we could all the way to the take out above St Claire's Falls and the epic hike up the hill to the truck.
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Inspecting the first rapid
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Which line to take?
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Nick walking back up for another go
A short drive later and we were drinking fresh tea, eating cake and ice cream in the sun and anticipating the next day's paddling.
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"One is rather fond of tea"
The following morning we hiked back down into the valley through some thick vegetation and were met with a huge slide above the put in. We decided not to climb up to it as we had 15km of grade 4/5 ahead of us to get through. A wise decision it turned out, as the rest of the river gave us big slides, awesome drops and countless clean lines.
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Cleaner than it looked, the first rapid of the day
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Niamh gets some air
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Got boof?
One of the more difficult rapids "50/50" consisted of an intense series of drops followed by a big slide with a meaty hole which claimed several victims and the first swims of the trip, providing some much needed carnage shots for the video camera.
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Sean dropping into the final slide of 50/50
We knew the take out was a road bridge and when we got to the first one, fully satisfied with an amazing days paddling, we thought the river was over. However there was no sign of Mahesh or the truck and some sign language with the locals told us that there was another bridge 2km downstream. As we headed down river, more clean drops and slides appeared until the second bridge where we found that the major road bridge was was another kilometer downstream. As we paddled through a beautiful gorge we could not believe that the river just kept giving and giving until we saw our yellow truck on the bridge and the fun was finally over.
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