Part 2: the bit where I actually do some kayaking.
This was our campsite, the Durance runs right past it, so the site is always full of kayakers. There’s also a slalom course and a flat water lake, for leisurely happenings.
This was my first experience of white water in a kayak, and all of the moving water was pretty terrifying to say the least. After pushing through the first few sets of waves, I approached a ‘hole’ (a large dip in the water with a nice big wave attached to it). I went into it partially sideways and it flipped me over. The water was cold but I acted fast – I rolled back up first time, casually.
Further down the river was a sharp bend. I hadn’t perceived the current properly and I was pushed to the edge where a tree high-fived me. It pushed me into the water. I tried rolling again but there were branches holding on to my paddles. With no further means of escape, I popped my deck and swam to the nearest eddy, while Luke and Gail rescued my boat. The cold got to me quickly and the shock prevented me from breathing easily. My paddles weren’t recovered – they’ll be somewhere in a lake now. Luckily, Luke had a spare set of collapsible paddles which I used for the remainder of the journey.
In the evening, we pulled out some of Lars’ grey hairs and Alice’s group entertained us with a game of Mr and Mrs. Turns out I know absolutely nothing about everyone in the group.
|Grey hairs were starting to show, even though he’d coloured his hair just before leaving.|
|Some people had devised a plan to cheat at the game. I wasn’t clever enough to do such a thing.|
We went for 2 sessions today. We took the lower Guil which flowed into yesterday’s one. We did the slalom again and got out for lunch. We then carried on from where we left off and I’ve realised I’ve started the last four sentences with ‘We’, I’ll continue.
We then stopped off at the side of a small cliff (only like 3 metres), got out of our boats and climbed up. The challenge was to slide down this cliff into the water in our kayaks. I initially didn’t want to do it, but a small amount of peer pressure made me go for it. I slid in, flew gracefully through the air and landed in the water, without rolling over!
Further down the river it got a little choppier, I handled it with ease. We then got off at a large eddy and pulled the boats onto the side. Walking down the river a little, we saw what was to come. A massive wave which had a special name, which I can’t remember. We only had to attempt to traverse it if we wanted to. I didn’t. Others did; some stayed up, the rest swam.
The evening saw Lars trying to hoist the Welsh flag onto a pole using a throw line, with limited success. Wales because it’s the only flag we had. My team had to invent the evening entertainment. I had brought along a light-up frisbee and we used it for a twilight ultimate frisbee tournament. It went pretty well – people didn’t quite understand the no contact rule, but that didn’t spoil the fun.
|Frisbee flying gracefully through the air.|
The first river we went to was the Briançon gorge, which only the experienced people did. Josh fell in and injured his thumb and had to go to the hospital.
|Waiting for the others to arrive.|
We were told that the upper Guisane was similar to what we’d done previously, but with a few more rocks. Personally I disagreed, since the water was quite low and there were many rocks and tree-related obstacles around. I was kayaking in a group with Priyanka, Gail, Stu and Ralex, so there were plenty of experienced people to help out when Priyanka and I fell in. I hit a rock on two separate occasions, and both times I attempted to roll, but the water was too shallow so I had to swim. I lost my bottle the first time I went in. The water was cold, but I wasn’t in as much shock as the first time I swam three days ago. I was pretty cheery both times, despite how much I was shivering and how little I could feel at my extremities. After finishing the run, most people climbed out but the more experienced carried on further down the river.
When we returned, it was baking hot, so we chilled outside with Ice Tea and sweets for several hours. England and France were playing football, so Ralex, Iwan and I went to the hut down the path to watch the game. 1-1, but France seemed to be playing a much better game. After returning from the hut, the rest of the group had been drinking for the past hour, so I had to catch up. Dinner was good, but Kelvin was very drunk. He went into the tent to “sober up” and ended up falling asleep soon after. Thankfully we weren’t going to be kayaking the next day. With the state some people will be in in the morning I thought that was for the best.