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Major Trip Reports.…
Day 4a Upper Guisane
We headed off to find a river… the Upper “Insane” Guisane. It started from a precarious launch spot and we were soon on our way, dodging rocks and following the swift flowing water. There were very few eddies and it was a good job we split into two 4s as any more than this and we would lose contact between paddlers. After 4 km of this grade 2-3 toboggan run, we entered the fantastic canalised section through “Les Grand Bains”. Here the water flows over boulders and twists and turns to give an excellent 1.5km section though the town. A few sensible people portaged while the less sensible people tackled the (quite long) rapid in a small group. I t was big and fast with lots of rocks to dodge and smiles all around at the bottom.
We all met up in sight of the house on the left bank and were very quickly on our way again. We stopped at the raft get in and discussed the lines some of us had taken over the two small weirs in the next section. This year none of us had any trouble and Oscar didn’t even know we had gone over those pesky weirs.
The rest of the river was a relaxed and pretty paddle, with a few bits to keep us entertained. We are glad to report the student globe is still on the balcony where it has been for the last 20+ years. A great river and in total contrast to the mighty Durance.
Day 4b Lower Guisane
Following a shuttle to leave a car at the raft lay-by just below Briancon, we returned for lunch at the car park at Serre Chevalier. We made good use of the sunny stretch of Grass and relaxed in preparation for the next section.
Myself, Keith Steer and James Lakey, who was joining us on loan from Stockton and Thornaby club, kitted up and moved our boats to the water’s edge. We have paddled this piece of river in past years, with varied results. The Alps guidebook calls it “A pinball ball machines for the uninitiated”. It consists of constant grade 4 boulder rapids for a couple of hours.
We put on and steadied ourselves as the tempo of the river started to rise.
The first major obstacle is an old road bridge, it has a nasty exit at the far end which sometimes can be a bit tricky. we all made it through and onto the next feature.
Before the start of the main section is a large weir, this has recently been replaced with a raft shoot and barrage for water abstraction. With this portaged, we put back on to the main event. Most of the section runs in a wooded valley and is quiet and feels quite isolated.
Just as we set of a large lightning storm erupted and followed us down the valley although we didn’t have any rain the flashes of lightning lit up the water.
We raced around the boulders as they grew in size, Keith and James taking turns to lead, it seemed never ending.
Towards the end we had to dodge around scaffolding that was being used to repair a bridge before a two-step weir. With that negotiated it was only a short paddle to collect the car……..and breathe!!