French Alps 2019 paddling trip
We headed up to Chateau Queyras after a great morning on the Middle Guil. There was a bit of talk in the minibus about plans for the afternoon, mostly about ice cream, a little about Via Ferrata, and a few whispers about the “toilet flush”. We arrived at a beautifully sunny quaint mountain town and the chips were down. “Whoever’s paddling stay in your kit cos we’re going now and then eating ice cream all afternoon, who’s in?” The answer, a team of 8 for the paddle, a few more just for the spectating and the ice cream was the answer.
Chateau Queyras is not that technical, but it is intimidating, so kudos to everyone who went for it, and encouragement for next year for those that didn’t. You can probably split it in to 3 main sections; a tricky, rocky lead in that can unseat a few and unsettle you for what follows; the central “toilet flush” that narrows and fires you through some balance challenging water features at pace; finally a more measured but still interspersed with rocky drops section to lead to the get out before the bridge section.
We all gathered in the eddy at the top bridge to agree the approach and running order as once you set off that’s pretty much it. We basically decided to run as two teams of four in a bigger team of eight giving each other enough space but staying together. Work that one out if you can! So we set off one by one and entered to increasing flow realising that know it was hold on tight, stay loose and keep it straight, or else….Well there was no or else, everyone nailed it and we even did a round of hand slaps at the bottom just to show how nervous we weren’t
The drama of this section actually came off river. Some of those not fancying a “Harry Potter” experience we were mooching round town and checking out the local café bar. One of the taller members of the group, wearing his hat at a jaunty angle, sauntered into a traditional old establishment straight into one of the low hanging beams. Most of his fellow paddlers, and the local staff, tried hard not to laugh too much. Luckily, he consoled himself with an ice cream and seemed none the worse for a bang on the head.