Archive for July, 2010

26
Jul

Boulters Weir

Boulters can be found in the middle of a very pleasant riverside park in Maidenhead, Thames Valley- its essentially the end of a canoe ramp on a weir. Kayakers are not allowed to shoot the weir, but can access through the park. James, Chris and myself played there for a good few hours.

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Photo: James trying to loop

The pour-over looked deceptively like the one I used to go to in Eugene, Oregon (24/7 on the canoe canal), but in the end we couldn’t do too much on it because it just was not retentive enough.

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 Photo: Chris with a pop-out

I finally figured out the cartwheel sweet spot about 30 minutes before we left (surfers left) and manged to get 3 ends. Chris managed 5.

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Photo: Chris at the approx. cartwheel spot

There was also tonnes of flat-water to practice my flat water cartwheel on, but I also enjoyed trying to get cross bow pirouettes, like we do at our home spot- woodmill in so’ton.

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Photo: Me doing something…not sure it can be described as anything in particular ;-)

24
Jul

The Glenner, The Epic and the The Long Drive Home

It was the last day of our holiday, which had been uneventful in terms of swims, rescues etc. The last day was supposed to be a quick sprint down the Glenner Gorge, pack up and a leisurely drive back to the ferry. However, it was a slightly less than relaxing day. Me, Dave and Larissa had made the call not to paddle when the others (including two inexperienced German paddlers) put on. Its a long storey, that I am deliberately choosing not to tell,  as I wasn’t on the river. Suffice to say the 2 hour paddle turned  into about 6 h. Everyone was fine and when all was said and done, only thing lost was one paddle and 4 hours of driving time.

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Photo: Glenner Put in.

We ate more schnitzel at a local restaurant before packing up camp and immediately driving to the ferry. It was 17 hours later we hit Calais and we stopped for some morning coffee and porridge served out of the back of Larissa and Dave’s van (Danny D’Vito)

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Photo: The crew after the river epic and the driving epic.

We got to the ferry and boarded pretty much straight away, Blighty bound and the holiday all wrapped up in our memories. A totally brilliant time with brilliant people in a brilliant place with brilliant food. Where to next year guys?

24
Jul

The Hinterrhein

The drive to our next destination took a wee while . We pretty much travelled the entire west perimeter of Lago Maggiore and with its vast array of little villages, colorful fauna and little three wheeler truck thingies there was plenty of eye candy. Roads were pretty narrow and crowded and there were some near misses with alpha romeos, buses and many scooters. We headed into the hills and took in some spectacular views as we transitioned into Switzerland and out of Italia.

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Photo: Carrera Toilet and shower block; a welcome sight.

Our next stop was to be The Carrera campsite recommended to us by some people we met at in Campertogno. It was in stark contrast to one we  left behind in Italy. For a start it was just 5 euros a night. It had showers that you didn’t have to pay for and the hot water lasted more than 1 minute. Best of all it had….OMG….toilets you could sit down on!!! You wouldn’t believe what a stress relief it was to not have to do your…er…humm business in a hole in the ground. Aiming when you’re a girl is not the easiest.

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Photo: View from the campsite.

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Photo: some pretty flowers in the meddow next to the campsite.

We got the tents up and went for a bite to eat in the tiny, local village. Schnitzel all round. We planned to run the Hinterrhein the next day; described in the guide  book as the grand canyon of the Swiss alps.

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Photo: The shuttle

We read up about the Hinterrhine and decided on a 12 km stretch that ended at Versam station. The coolest thing about this run is that the shuttle is a train. Its about 15 euros one way. We loaded up but didn’t punch our tickets. We were stopped by the conductor who was adamant that we pay a fine of 20 Swiss francs for not stamping our tickets or to surrender our passports. We had neither money nor passports with us. We offered him some cake and an apple in exchange for our freedom, but he seemed unamused. Eventually he tootled off and left us alone. We disembarked in a really quaint town and headed for the river across some fields.

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Photo: The get in

Graham and Larissa were paddling the Topo- Duo for the first time. It was an amazing thing to watch. The thing is one hellova beast to keep up with. Tom, Dave, Chris and Myself were all paddling at race pace to keep up.

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Photo: Chris and Graham and Larissa in the TopoDuo

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The river was largely class II with a  few class III rapids. Pretty big volume and a completely different feel the what we’d been paddling in Italy. The water was much more grey. The canyon walls were spectacular white and grey masses.

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Photo: Chris smiliing as we blasted 12 km in less than 1.5 hours.

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Photo: Close to the get out.

We went for a lovely lunch at the train station and then headed back up to the campsite for a veritable feast around the barbecue, swilled down with some cheap swiss beer. On the way back, we had to give way to the Swiss locals:

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Photos: The cows

Trust me, they may look sweet and innocent, but when they are up close an personal, nose pressed against the passenger window, they are somewhat less sweet..

12
Jul

Post Egua fun

The day after the Egua we calmed it down a bit and headed up to the Upper Sesia. It wasn’t really a very fun run due to all the  metal work holding the bank together and all the metal work in the river itself. Not my favourite kind of bedrock but pleasant none-the-less. I headed out at the bridge but the others carried on down the Alpine sprint run. Sounds like they had a great lot of fun. Larissa and I had as much fun listening to the cows and their bells-ooooooo ding-dong!!!

The next day we headed back to the Gronda so Chris, Graham and Tom could run that and the slides before we headed over to Switzerland for the last few days of our trip.

 

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Photo: Chris on one of the top drops on the Gronda

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Photo: Tom on the drop that hurts your back.

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Photo: Tom on the bottom drop

It was straight from the slides to sunny Switzerland via Lago Maggiorre!

06
Jul

The Egua Video

Below is a short video showing us on some of the drops and rapids on the Egua.

http://www.vimeo.com/13137421

05
Jul

Egua…and my first swim in 4 years

On Wednesday I really wanted to look at the Egua River and the crew agreed to driving up the valley to take a sneak peek at it. The Egua is a tributary to the Semenza River. Although a few of the guidebooks describe it as a class 5 river, Westgarth says ”it’s the steepest class IV pool drop you’d love to run”. We set off from camp pretty early, so we could get there before the snow melted and increased the flow.  Located high in the mountains, we could feel the temperature drop as we went higher.

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Photo by Dave: Larissa up by the Egua

 It was an overcast day and we got rained on as we scouted the first 500 meters of river. As we were waking back to the car we bumped into Mike Moxon and his crew who were just gearing up at the put-in. Mike asked if we wanted to join his group and we jumped at the chance. We got kitted up as quickly as poss and headed straight onto the river. I was last down the interesting leading and straight into a 15 foot slide/ drop.

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Photo by Larissa: The lead in- horizon line is the 15 foot drop.

Lots of interesting, tight technical rapids with sticky holes followed. Mike M.  lead the whole thing which was ace- he’s one of the best lead paddlers I’ve had the privilege to paddle with

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Photo by Larissa: Chris on one of the clean drops…

The river continues in a similar vein for a couple of hundred metres

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Photo by Larissa: Graham in his vintage kit :-)

About 1/2 way down the run I ran a really nice rapid, but got caught in the final hole. It kicked me out into an eddy, but also shoved the front of my boat between two rocks, so i couldn’t roll up. I had no option but to swim. It was really fortunate that Dave, Graham and Tom were running safety on that drop.

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Photo by Larissa: Safety man Dave

I am so not not used to swimming- it was only my second swim on a river in the last 6 years of boating (the other was on the class V Green Truss, OR) and my first swim in 4 years. It sucked and as I struggled to catch the rope Tom threw me, they heard me screaming like a girl at them with echos of “save me”. It was not a pleasant experience and I was rightly reminded that swimming is not a pleasant experience and the less I do it the better. Anyway, I got back in my boat and carried on down with the others.

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  Photo by Larissa: Chris on a friendly one

There were some more sticky ledges that we run and Chris hung out at the top one for quite some time. He musta worked that hole for a good….oooo…. 2 minutes before it let him go. More playboating in a creek boat…

 

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Photo by Larissa: The said drops that were sticky. Other  group members were pulled out with ropes.

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Photo by Mike M.- Me avoiding a sticky hole

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 Photo:  Me sideways; not really the direction I wanted to be travelling, but it worked.

Some of us decided to hike out at the first bridge, avoiding the last 3 drops. However, 3 of our group styled 2 of the last three drops, portaging the last one…Another AWESOME day on the river. I love low consequence class V! Video soon.

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Photo by Larissa- Group at the first bridge take out.

02
Jul

Lower Sesia and Mastellone…now with added photos

Tuesday the entire group ran down the Lower Sesia. Super fun and a great warm up for the afternoon on the Mastellone. We ran into Lowri, Fran and Dave at the campsite before setting off and arranged to meet those guys at the put in to the Mastellone in the afternoon. Air temperatures were reaching about 29 degrees C and the river made a welcome cool down. This was particularly good for me as I only took a dry-suit to Italy-I was definitely boiling in the bag, so to speak.

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Photo by Larissa: Put on of the Mastellone

The Mastellone is mostly class III bouldery, pooly droppy.

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Photo by Larisaa: Tom enjoying the paddle

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Photo by Larissa: Dave turning on the style

There was a really neat rapid we ran a couple of times, improving lines with each iteration. Of course the flow-free crew styled it each time. Video to follow…

 

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Photo by Larissa:  A fun rapid to practice lines on.

After a while the rivers drops off quite quickly and you spot the entrance to the gorge section . There was a ClassIV+ on the entrance to the gorge. On this day, none of us ran the rapid, but a few of us were definitely tempted.  

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Photo by Larissa: Chris on a nice tiddler rapid.

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Photo by Graham: In the Gorge 

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Photo by Graham: In the Gorge II

The gorge reminded me a bit of Coe Gorge in Scotland- very pretty indeed. We took out at the weir, but apparently this is not the end of the run….it carries on for another 0.5 km into town, and is supposed to have some really nice rapids on ie. Between Italy and Corsica, I’m getting really used running 1/2 sections or the wrong sections of river :-) Yet another fantastic day one the river followed up by a nice BBQ back a camp.