Deepdale Gorge at Medium to High Water

Being an unemployed student has certain excellent advantages. One of them is probably time. A word that most of us are fighting to keep up with. So with time on my hands I decide to leave on Wednesday for some ‘weekend’ kayaking. Arriving at Highover in the evening I meet up with Jared and Gareth, both local to the area.


The view upstream taken from the bridge near Highover.


The road into Highover… Some impala are standing by the road side and ignore me as I drive past them.

We chat for a while over some beers and then make our way to bed. Coming straight from Joburg I suffer in the humidity and the mosquitoes attacking me in the back of my bakkie don’t help either.

Eventually dawn greets us, as well as Mike Pennefather and two of his mates, Craig Rivett and Scott Reinders, several hours later. They were worse off than me, being plagued by a white spirit called ‘cane’ the entire night. Shame. Mike doesn’t look healthy. We are also joined by Rob, another local and are now seven strong.

So we make our way to the put in like the previous occasion but this time is different. It’s a weekday you see. Small problem. All our porters are still at school! After some waiting I manage to get two older dudes for my boat and they haul the boat down to the river loaded with all the lovely stuff required for a good time. This time the water is better and the falls look more shoot able but still we had no takers. Deepdale Falls would probably need more water for a safe passage down. Check out the Wicked Liquid videos.

Deepdale Falls at the put in.

With more water than my first trip the going is good. There are now small play waves and holes to have fun and we move down at a good pace. The Ledge is run without any problems and on we go. Lunch time rapid is a nice one and everyone has sweet lines.


Adrian at the lunch time rapid. Just out of interest sake, the line I am running above had ZERO water on my first trip down.

The kilometers go past like nothing and soon we are past our previous trips’ overnight spot. Short Drop is short and powerful and we don’t even bother taking photos. A light rain comes down, on and off and we are just enjoying the cruise down this really spectacular gorge. With no major incidents and some excellent paddling we arrive at a comfortable looking camp spot in the early afternoon. The rain has been gone for a while and things are looking up. A tiny wave is by the camp but virtually too small to be worth it. We collect some large pieces of firewood and generally laze around.

Everyone enjoying the afternoon and the fact that we are in total isolation.

Mike demonstrates to us his naked cooking skills this time. Luckily no photos… Then the rain begins. Not too good. And the rain carries on. The sun goes down and yet the rain does not leave us alone.

Things are not looking great. Everyone had one of those cheap ass bivvy bags made from plastic except for Scott. Hence the shelter of boats on the right hand side of the picture.

Gareth makes the most of his Big EZ and puts it to use as a half blanket, half rain shield.

The biggest problems with the bivvy bags is the fact that they are all too short, leaving your head exposed. That and the fact that condensation builds up quickly inside. To keep my head covered I lay under my boats cockpit, with one end of the boat on another one. This works well in theory but I couldn’t even fit two fingers between my neck and the boat. The only sleeping option is also ONLY on your back so after a few hours of this I pulled out from under the boat. Pulling my legs up I crept deeper into the bag to cover my head for the remainder of the night. A really horrible night for everyone. Scott had an interesting night too and would strongly recommend not sleeping under boats as a shelter to anyone who asks.

Light eventually found us and the rain eased a little. Spirits soon lifted once we discovered that all the rain had caused the river to rise nicely. Not too shabby. Good days paddling, crap night’s rest, another good day to follow soon. The maths was looking good.

The river had indeed risen quite a bit and was a lot more pushy than the previous days paddling.

In no time at all we arrived at the infamous Long Drop rapid and scouted from the left bank.

The line we took was past the big rock on the right hand of the picture (river left).

Moving down and then going down a little drop to the right and ferrying hard above the nasty pourover to bypass it on river right.

Mike just missing the pourover.

Everyone had good lines with no close calls.

The view looking back up at Long Drop.

To portage around here is a bit of a mission. The large rocks make life a little difficult and thorn bushes guard both sides, but can be done. Shortly after this one is the rapid I said in another article where all the water flows through a small gap. This time the ledge was fully covered and good fun.

Scott in the green Solo, Craig in the red Solo and Mike hiding in the background doing a freewheel shortly after Long Drop.

A surfing spot was found and provided some good entertainment. Craig managed a fully aerial loop in the small Fluid Solo but couldn’t quite get it right for the camera. Funny how that always happens.

Craig having a good surf. Who said creek boats aren’t fun!

A little way after this surf spot is the natural weir. VERY retentive at this level.

The natural weir with our friends, the clouds, hanging low.

Adrian running the natural weir on the far right.

Mike in the weir.

Jared in the weir.

Running the weir on the far left is not too tough, just don't mess it up. The actual ‘weir’ part can be missed entirely on the far right or a boof is available just left of the exposed rocks. Nobody decided to try the centre line and there are people that can attest to a good beating if you do.

The so called commercial section was good fun this time and we flew through to the camp. A big thanks to Mike, Craig, Scott, Jared, Gareth and Rob for making this trip especially good. Thank you.



So the end of a trip but not the end of the story. After getting lost in the mist on the winding dirt roads I eventually found my way to the Mountain Resort Inn in Bulwer. Ready for the next overnight trip the following day!

The camp site in Bulwer with a few friends eager for FOOD!


BY: Adrian T.

Photography by: Adrian, Rob and Mike.

This story is not really meant as a guide, so don't blame me for any errors. If you'd like add your own description of this spot then please contact me. Thank you.