Many Rivers to Run is a book of Kayaking Stories I have compiled. The contributors include Mick Hopkinson, Doug Ammons, Whit Deschner and the late, great Donald Bean.
I selected this a collection of stories, which existed only verbally, as I thought they would disappear as the participants grew older and retired from the sport. I felt they should be preserved. Many of the achievements of these paddlers was at their time “cutting edge” – I even feel that taking my mother, father, nephews and nieces down the Coruh was cutting edge – an age range of 3 to 73 – and we ran pretty well everything except for the “Joan Collins Set” of rapids. My mother’s account of “The Birthday Party” arrives at the end of the book.
Personally reading the account of Jonas Noker on the Strickland leaves me with the biggest goose bumps as I identify with the enormity of their predicament; constant rain, rising river level and no way out but on down the river. But not only does his account cover the epic descent, he also manages to bring to light the local colour and culture of the indigenous population. The shear nature of the unknown that they entered is aptly captured by Jonas’s title “Obscured by Clouds” taken from the map of the area they were entering!
Now-a-days the Zanskar Gorge in Ladkah is a common-place run and people fly in and out in a fortnight to tick off another river on their list but when Al and Mikey ran the river it had had a handful of descents in BIG boats. A friend and expedition paddler, Rob Hind’s comment was that “those guys moved the bar” as to what could be done in self support trips.
Mind you reading the account you feel they might have liked a bigger boat and warmer equipment! “Mike an Al’s Big Adventure” is a great description of paddlers growing up to be some of the world’s leading white water paddlers.
Mikey at the put in.
Doug Ammons brings a different challenge to the book – an account of paddling on his “home” river but moving the bar by running it at, to that date, never seen before levels. Estimates vary between 7,000 and 10,000 cfs for the flows that day – it was off the scale. The North Fork of the Payette is a serious run at 2,500 cfs.
Whit Deschner does not bring any serious challenge to the page more of a challenge to the readers rib-cage as he rips into the paddling community and with his inimitable humour pulls it apart. As said in his introduction, he weighs his words to ensure the maximum effect on the reader. I have a private theory that he is from a parallel universe and occasionally returns through this portal!
- Mick Hopkinson’s account of the 1st descent of the Blue Nile in 1972 in 13ft glassfibre boats.
- Andy Middleton’s chapter “A Day at the Races” is a masterful description of The Bitches tidal rapid
- Donald Bean’s life story!
- Jan Kelner’s illegal run in Scandanavia
- My battle with the Braldu River flowing off K2.
- Mike Hewlett’s account of our attempt at paddling the Indus River in Pakistan.
- Wolfgang Haibach, Marcus Schmid and friends cold, wet and scared in the Homathko British Columbia.
- Guy Baker’s face off with a hippo on one of the early runs of the White Nile.
- Colin Hill odyssey of destinations around the world.
- Arlene Burns and Dan Dixon as “Tresspaddlers” trying to get to the river across the Tibetan Plateau is an adventure in itself.
- Francesco Salvato brings a totally different perspective (and section of the river) to Whit’s description of the Kanarli River.
One review describes Don Weedon’s tale of running the rapids below the Niagra Falls as “Keysone koppish” – an apt description. And to keep with the cartoonish character Milt Jines has contributed his great sketches of the state of kayaking!
All in all 18 chapters linked together by a love of the sport.
For the UK I will absorb the postage and packing so the price is £16.00
For Europe the postage and packing is £2.50 so the total price is £18.50
For the US and the rest of the world sorry but the postage is £4.50 so the total price is £20.50
The following are some of the reviews the book has received ….
Dave Manby has been at the cutting edge of expedition kayaking for the best part of a quarter a century. In that time he has had more first descents and epic adventures than most paddlers have had swims, from his expedition experience on the Dudh Kosi in the 1976 to leading a trip for disabled paddlers on Turkey’s Coruh river in 1993. Along the way he has met many of kayakings more colourful characters, and here he presents the stories – and rivers – that have defined their lives: Mick Hopkinsons account of big crocodiles and even bigger cataracts on the Blue Nile; Don Weedon’s arrest after running the infamous whirlpool rapids below Niagara Falls; Arlene Burns’ epic struggle just to get to the put-in of Tibet’s Bramaputra; and Dave’s own intimate and personal battle with the Braldu in Pakistan, first with Mike Jones in 1978 and then on his own in 1983. For those who paddle, these stories provide not just inspiration, but confirmation of the spirit that is constantly pushing back the boundaries. To the uninitiated, each is as much an excellent adventure as an explanation of what drives paddlers.
By Paul Grogan
It is a little different to the format which I had expected as, instead of being a collection of Dave’s memoirs (which would easily fill a book), it consists of around twenty chapters written by other well-known paddlers from around the globe. Each contributor is introduced by Dave. Knowing some of the contributors – and many of the rivers – it has been a fascinating book for me to read. There is something for anyone with interests in paddling, travelling or just plain adventure in Many Rivers to Run. Everyone will have their own favourites, whether it be the heart-stopping wild rides had on the Imatra Gorge, the North Fork of the Payette at 7000 cubic feet a second, Mick Hopkinson’s account of the Blue Nile descent or the gentle eccentricity of Donald Bean. Dave’s own very human account of his struggle with the Braldu is one of my own favourites. If the stories aren’t enough to set the heart racing then the few black-and-white and superb sections of colour photos will help. This book is far and away the best and most enjoyable collection of paddling stories that I have read. An inspirational read.
Reviewed by Chris Sladden
So far people have only used cliches – adrenaline rushes, Man Against Nature, Pushing The Edge, as if these simplistic throwaway buzzwords are the motive force behind everything. The stories presented in Dave’s book go beyond the buzzwords. Don Weeden’s wild account of a bandit run of the Niagara Gorge is almost Keystone Coppish until one remembers the magnitude of the rapids they were running! I recall seeing film footage of Don being led, handcuffed, to a waiting police car at the end of this run. A great read! Doug Ammon’s white-knuckled story (in typical Ammonesque detail) of a run down the NF at 7000 cfs leaves one sufficiently breathless. Arlene Burns was Tresspaddling on the Tsangpo before many of us even knew of the river. And what can be said of the marvellous wit of Whit Deschner?
By Ken Strickland