Day 5 Upper Guisane by Kirk Williams
The 9am departure was a bit of a shock after yesterday’s leisurely departure, but we managed to get everyone loaded and up to the get in, after a quick stop for a view of the S Bends rapid, highlight of the Upper Guisane. The drive in past slightly murky water suggested that runoff from last night’s storms had brought the rivers up a touch and this proved to be the case. This made it even more important on a relatively narrow river with limited/small eddies to split into smaller groups to manage our run safely. The top of the river is an introduction warm-up and all the groups made it to the eddy above S Bends safely, with only one or two mishaps along the way. For those who didn’t know the river from previous years, we had the added safety of some excellent traffic direction/instruction from Keith.
The safety of the bank gave everyone a chance to have a look at the rapid from the top down perspective before making their go-no go choice. With the limited feasible bank & on river safety organized, the group set off in buddy pairs. Most made it the bottom without any mishaps and everyone seemed to be smiling or grimacing nicely for the photos. Our slick organization was interrupted by the appearance of a solo raft that managed to get itself quite seriously pinned at the top end of the rapid but the only casualty was a raft paddle so all good. Our fool proof river signal of John running most of the way down to the bottom eventually managed to get Kirk to come back up to the top of the river for the final pair descent. Luckily the rest of the team were having fun trying to reunite Mark with his shiny new boat that he carelessly sent to the other side of the river. Finally, the last two were ready to go, although John really wanted the comfort of the complete attention of the rescue team so our pair was a little stretched, but we made it down without too much swearing.
After S Bends the team pulled into few minor eddies to reconstitute the paddling groups before heading for a convenient rocky beach to all get together for the final scenic run through the riverside chalets of Chantemerle to the get out. After a bit of chest beating about smashing the rapid, we set off for a nice relaxing final section. On the way, Helen decided to make things more interesting by checking out the hydraulics of one the small but surprisingly powerful weirs, which was great for the important lunchtime paddling banter. The final bit of drama came with Ciaran finding the cause of his sinking boat was a rather large split in the hull, meaning an early get off/shuttle pick up, but eventually we all gathered on the grass at the get out guarding parking spaces for the minibus/trailer. The decision then was whether a smaller team would run the Lower Guisane, a more serious challenge, but the sensible decision was to leave that for another day.