French Alps 2018 paddling trip
Once we had picked up everyone from various lay-bys along the side of the road we made our way up to Château-Queyras. People quickly found their needs for the afternoon, ice-cream for some, a classic gorge Via Farrata for others, and a small team unable to resist the frothy charms of the Château-Queyras gorge. A brief isnpection confirmed there was more water than usual from previous years at this time of year, but our hardy team weren’t going to back out now.
Well, what a blast! The guide book “toilet flush”, or the Cresta Run, really do convey the feeling as you pick up speed through the increasingly narrow channel between sheer rock walls. The trick (apparently) is to follow the water and stay straight while avoiding bouncing off too many walls. Easier said than done with plenty of fast approaching boulder drops and, the crux of the run, a narrow corkscrew halfway down that requires you to trying to keep left before sliding right and holding your balance to ride it through. On this occasion, the river gods decided it was John’s turn to take one to feed the team’s banter, but most of us know it’s only a matter of another run or two for our lesson to arrive. Even at these approaching medium levels there is a useable eddy ½ way down for reuniting the seperated and a quick breather before taking on the calmer final section.
Below the eddy is not without its challenges, starting with another small drop with some awkward boulders in the middle to navigate around. We wound down paddling past a couple of small gorge-side waterfalls and down to the get out by the road bridge high above us. It was all over too quickly. We then had to find our way back along the road to the minibus and trailer, spotting our Via Ferrata gang below but for some reason they seemed too distracted to hear our shouts. Once back in the village we chilled out with a well-earned drink at the small café by the bridge. On the way back we picked up the bike and made a short call at supermarket, then back to the camp site by 7:30. A full day enjoyed by all.