French Alps 2018 paddling trip
We arrived at ‘Montbardon Bridge’, unloaded the boats, got out kit together and got on the water. Once on the water we organised ourselves into about four groups. Keith called me over to his group along with Dom, Hannah and Sara. Once we had our group together we set off down.
The introduction to the Middle Guil from our get on provided a gentle warmup with a few large boulders to avoid but, otherwise it was a straight forward introduction with an opportunity to observe the impressive scenery that towered over us on both sides. At fairly regular intervals the river started to present more technical sections that started to redirect my gaze from the scenery to the challenges presented to us by the river (staying in the boat, upright).
As we approached a bend in the river with a small drop through some boulders we tried to keep river left. One paddler took an interesting, more central line. Watching the extra effort required to get through this route caused me to get stuck broad side to the flow. The stern on one rock and the bow on another. Inexperienced showed as I sat there for what felt like minute before I sussed a way out that didn’t involve getting wet.
A little later a similar section flipped a kayaker. Out went the call, ‘swimmer’. The swimmer got themselves and the paddle out of the water promptly whilst other paddlers made themselves safe and/or useful for the rescue. Keith chased the boat down the river and others tracked down the bank to help remove the boat from the water. Once paddler and gear were reunited we continued downstream.
At a large eddy the group pulled in and waited for all the other groups to arrive. The ‘Surprise Drop’ lay ahead. Most entered the eddy conventionally, some showed off (eddying upside down and then rolling) and some simply floated past with boat in one hand and paddle in the other.
Once all safely in boats and secure the drop was discussed.
1. Paddle straight through the drop
2. Keep river right
3. Eddy out river right
So, we were sent down one at a time after Keith had bobbed down to observe and provide safety. When I came to go down I put too big a stroke in at the top lining up and neatly slid down sideways, somehow bypassing the stopper and bobbing safely into the eddy (lucky).
Once everyone was down a number of us got out before the next more involved section. We climbed out of the river and sat on the roadside wondering how the adventure continued for the rest of the team.
A great, sunny days paddle with awesome views along the way.