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Major Trip Reports.…
Day 7a The Ubaye Racecourse
Racecourse – Martinet to Le Lauzet
The Ubaye Racecourse is the classic Ubaye run. A consistent stretch of class 3+ to 4 whitewater with fun big and bouncy rapids and surprisingly warm water. 15 rapids in quick succession, including named rapids like Dent de Requin (Shark’s Tooth) and Rouleau de Printemps (Spring Roll) make this section a must for your kayaking bucket list. The scenery is outstanding with views over the wooded valley, and at the end of the descent the river narrows through a sheer sided gorge. Put-in at the rafting base just past Le Martinet. Take out below Le Lauzet at La Source campsite.
Class: IV. Gradient: 15 m/km. Flow: 30 m³/s.
Paddling time: 2 hours. Distance: 8 km. Best months: May to July.
With everyone else deciding to take a well-deserved rest day, Keith and I departed the campsite early and made the 1 1/4-hour journey over to the get out. On the way we passed the massive lake Serre
Poncon, it really is a wonderful turquoise blue. As we approach the lakeside road it always reminds me of the Mediterranean Sea. The road winds around the lake for some time, giving amazing views of yachts, wind and kite surfers.
Upon arriving at the get out we found a suitable location to secure Keith’s bike. The plan was when we had dropped of the car at the get in, and ran the river, Keith would cycle back to the start and collect the car. We put on the river with minimum faff, as we had arrived early, we virtually had the whole car park to choose from. The get in is very impressive, as you paddle under an old stone bridge and straight into a full-on boulder rapid. We occasionally stopped to play on a suitable wave. To spice things up a bit we decided that on every island we met we would pass it only on the left. We would run the river again then pass the all the islands on the right.
We made our way down the river at a fairly fast pace, passing the occasional raft or other kayak group.
One of the main sections “Shark Fin Rapid” seemed different this year, some of the larger bolder had moved position.
Almost at the end of the river we approached the spot we would usually take a group photo. It brought home how different this year’s trip has been, being just two of us. We made it to the get out and carried our boats up the steps to the road. Keith bravely set of find his bike and cycle to pick up the car.
Whilst he was gone, I was taking to a river leader and her two clients. The two young English girls were on a freestyle paddling tour of Europe. Their farther was driving them to whitewater courses in Paris, Lyon, Marseille and the Alps, wow.
Keith returned and we drove back to the top of the river and had lunch, we repeated the previous run, only this time passing islands on the left. We ran the various sections again without issue. Towards the end of the river this time we noticed that five cars had fallen from the road some time ago and were resting on the riverbank.
We returned to the campsite, looking forward to meeting the new arrivals here for the next week.
Day 7b The Slalom Course
Neil went on the slalom course with Sarah, Steve, Olie, Charlie and Chris. They were strongly advised to warm up on easier sections first. After practising rolling on the lake, they spotted a sign saying slalom course closed. Blindly ignoring this they proceeded to give it a go anyway. The group safely made the first two eddies and then the water was going the wrong way “says Steve”. Three attempts at righting the mighty Machno were not entirely successful. Paddler went river right, the paddled went to river left while the mighty Machno proceeded downstream followed by the chasing paddlers. Sarah managed to usher it onto the stone beach below the campsite. The session ended with the paddlers walking back onto the campsite via the reception desk and front entrance!