Part 3: the part where I do more sightseeing than boating
Chill out day today! Some people went on a river, but the majority wanted to take a day off to visit Briançon. We went to the bridge overlooking Briançon gorge, which the experienced ones had paddled on Sunday. Afterwards we found a café and had the nicest of coffees.
My group cooked chilli con carne in the evening. Ethan’s face told us that his vegetarian dish had too much chilli. I should have taken a photo, it would have been hilarious.
This river, the lower Claree, was not good. The levels were low so there were plenty of rocky obstacles everywhere. Jon took a roll right in front of me, claiming it was to clean the dunce shirt. I swam twice: the first time was into a tree on a corner, much like my first swim; the other was by hitting a rock which plunged me into the freezing water where another rock decided to punch me in the face. It was too shallow to roll so I had to take a second swim while receiving a couple of cuts and bruises. Once again I lost my bottle to the water. The river had a few obstacles where we had to get out and walk past. On the plus side, there was fantastic scenery. It’s a shame I couldn’t bring my camera on the boat with me.
The evening was cold but clear. My group did the washing up while everyone else played night volleyball and went stargazing.
|Night volleyball, with help from the vehicle’s headlights.|
I decided to try and take photos of the stars but the results weren’t very good.
|I need a better camera, like Tom Lowe‘s.|
Today was an incredibly early start – we were up and out of the campsite by 8am. We drove to the Ubaye river, some 45 minutes away. Kelvin, Ethan, Will and I decided to have the day off, so instead of kayaking we went to the get-out and made an eddy so the paddlers could get out easily. While most appreciated our hard work, George just ploughed through the wall.
|A damn fine eddy, even if I say so myself.|
Nice and easy run in the morning, not much to say. When we got back, the general consensus was to paddle from higher up the Durance and end up at the campsite. Because levels were low I decided to walk from the campsite to l’Argentiere and buy snacks from Carrefour. Ben Howard was playing on the shop radio.
When I returned, everyone else had arrived and were gathered at the start of the slalom. I wanted to join in so I got my kit ready and headed to the start. By the time I got there some of the groups had already started and were hopping between eddies. A group of leaders were near the start so I shouted to them saying that I wanted to come down. I thought they signalled that it was OK, turns out it wasn’t a signal at all. I went down and they were surprised, I fell in, swam, got rescued and was awarded the dunce shirt.
We had beers and a barbecue in the evening on the island in the lake. After the food we lit a fire and stayed until the early hours of the morning.
|Don’t worry, we’ll clean it up tomorrow.|