When I started kayaking, it was the most visible goal...to run Tamihi..before I even knew of the canyon or what it was, I knew about Tamihi. I would go there regularly just to scout it and check things out, having I'm sure no idea what I was looking at or for ironically. I would watch kayakers go through and make it look easy, I would watch the slalom boaters run up and downstream on it making that look easy..it was obvious, this was the next step.
In late August/early September I finally started combat rolling with regularity (it's so nice to know it's not an automatic swim when you flip under!)..and this would turn out to be a very good thing. Up to this point all I had done regularly was the beginner run, I had two Slesse - Tamihi runs under my belt, and hadn't been below Tamihi to the Raft Ranch. During my only pre-Tamihi run downstream of Allison Pools I can remember having a tough time with the big boulders at high water through The Fang and Trailer Park...but ended up negotiating them no problem really. We spent forever that day scouting Tamihi, I really wanted to do it...but Bob wasn't game so it would have to wait for another day... I would spend a lot of time playing at Microwave above Tamihi as well, just learning to ferry and ride choppy on the fly style wave shoulders.
Finally on September 10th it was time. A bunch of us put on after work above Trailer Park (Tanner, Kim, Dave, Ken, Brett and myself I believe). Tanner was the experienced guy with us, after making it through Trailer Park with a roll and another roll shortly after I was off to a rough start. We got out at Tamihi and scouted, some guys were going right, some were going left. I watched Tanner run it straight on the left with Kim following, she rolled twice but made it. I got in my boat intending to follow the same line...my heart pumping as I plunged into the big first few drops grabbing at the water below with my paddle while the water on top tried to pull my boat back into the holes...the level was around 1.1 or 1.2...I ended up rolling twice the same places Kim had, but it was the best feeling I ever had being in the eddy by the bridge, my whole body just vibrating!
I would do Tamihi my second time a couple days later with Kay and Kiah at 1.4 and it was a very different experience...Kay was in front of me sideways telling me to lean forward and paddle, each of the three biggest drops I hit direct with almost no speed and my boat started backtracking up into the hole until my stern got dragged down, Kay was going crazy...I paddled out and for good measure told them I was messing around and trying to see what would happen and test my limits...true or not. Tamihi would give me one more big scare at 1.6, but now I'm pretty good with it, ironically it's just a couple weeks ago I finally tried the easy line right to left down the middle...and have finally started to play around with the Roman Bath drop in it, I've also finally been able to assist in some rescues there too, it's always a good feeling knowing you're confident enough with a rapid to help others and not be depended on for survival!
Over the next month I would take every opportunity to run Tamihi I could in preparation for my inevitable first run in with The Canyon...I felt with Tamihi behind me I could finally start exploring other rivers with confidence and running the class IV stuff out there...
A tame looking Tamihi, and me paddling just above Tamihi finding my line