Archive for April, 2011


Corsica 2011- The Video Summary

Well folks, I released the Corsican adventure video about two weeks ago. It’s about time I got it up here on the blog. I really do hope you enjoy watching the video as much as I enjoyed making it.


Corsica- the Best of the Rest

After the adventure on the Travo the guys retrieved the boats while I stayed at the gite and nursed my poorly wing. They were victorious in getting my boat down the river, carrying it around the more serious rapids, but nudging it down less consequential ones. Well done the lads!

The following day, my wing was still very sore and swollen and I wanted to get it x-rayed, so we set off for the local hospital. Well, there is no hospital close to Aleria, so Stu suggested we find a radiographer. We spotted a vet’s and yes, it was suggested we git ‘er done there…thankfully we spotted the radiography unit and 36 euros later, no broken bones, we opted for the Tavignanu.This gave everyone a bit of a rest day as this river is only class III-IV.


Photo: Chris on a lower Fium Orbo Seal Launch.

The next day we opted for the lower Fium Orbo, from the old mill to the lake. This is a beautiful stretch of river and for Stu, Andy and myself, it completed the second half of our descent of the Fium Orbo (the first section we paddled last year).


Photo: Scouting one of the harder rapids on the Lower Fium Orbo.

The following day he guys hit the Middle Vecchio. I was not sure that my wing would hold up to it and knowing this river was full of siphons and undercuts, I made the decision for the sake of the team, I would sit that one out. It was kinda cool as I waited with James Fleming (who’d also been x-rayed the day before) hanging out for our respective groups to emerge from the Vecchio.


Photo by Stuart: Chris on the Middle Vecchio- Siphons city!

When Team Midnight Scramblers emerged from the river they recounted the stories of innocuous undercuts sucking boats and paddlers into underwater grottos. Indeed, Paul and Stu decided that one sport was not enough for one day and tried their hand at caving…Yes, they are now part of the Vecchio Caving and Swim Team. Sounded rather an unpleasant situation but both got out just fine. That evening, team Teddybear came over for a BBQ and it was fantastic to share stories of drops, munchings, hike outs and war wounds!


Photo by Stuart: Andy on the Middle Vecchio.

The following day was our last day and we saved the best ’til last in the form of the Upper Golo. A Class IV to V- run. A-MA-ZING.


Photo by Andy: Stu on the right-angle drop of the Upper Golo.

Another amazing paddling adventure with lovely people on this mountainous Mediterranean oasis. Cant wait to return next year.


Corsica Day 2: Travo Day and the Midnight Scramblers

Monday and day 2 of our trip rolled around. We’d had a successful bimble on the Lower Golo the day before, working well as a team, assessing each other’s ability and warming up. Our team had gelled so well that we decided to go for the classic of classics on Corsica- The Travo.


Photo: James on rapid number 2 on the Travo

At the get-in we met team teddy-bear, aka another british team consisting of James Fleming, Marcus, Tim and Sam. And then the Aber/ Edinburgh team turned up too- it was good to see the Brits representing. There was one other team of Czech paddlers getting on the river at the same time. One big tupperware party.


Photo: Mr Big Dog himself, James exiting a rapid

We let plenty of space amass between the groups to prevent overcrowding. Stuart, Andy and myself had run the first half of the river last year and we knew what to expect. The first few rapids were class 4- to 4+ boulder gardens. We may have been fine with a read and run attitude (as we knew the lines) but to be prudent we set safety on the hard bits and prepared for filming.


Photo: Paul on the sneak before the class V rapid

When we saw the walls closing in on us, we knew we were coming to the good bits. The rock became steep, smooth as a baby’s bottom and incredibly uniform- nearly impossible to stand on without sliding down. We snuck down the side of a class V rapid and were then faced with another class V. Last year Stuart asked for a line down the rapid and a German paddler shout back, “Straight down the middle”. Like leamings we all followed and were absolutely fine.

Still 1

Photo: Andy approaching the double drop.

This year we decided to be a bit more sensible and set safety. Glad that we did as all of us, apart from Chris, had an interesting and original line. I opted for the ‘Bash off the right wall and roll after the second drop’ move; Paul went for ‘Oooo, I can do this backwards line’; Stu I didn’t see, but Andy went for the full on ‘Lets get stuck in the little siphon’ approach. We all escaped unscathed. Maybe straight down the middle would have been the way to go…Afterwards are a few nice slides


Photo by Stu: Me on a nice rapid


Photo by Stu: Another nice slide…


Photo by Stu: …And Chris on another sweet slide.

The slides ended, closely followed by the horizon line that brought me back to Corsica, indicating the class V entry rapid that preceded the slides. Ahh…the slides- the draw that has brought oh so many a paddler to this fair island.

We inspected for a while before taking the plunge. Stu fired up the first slide (about 15 feet) – straight down the right- and had a cracking line. He set safety for the rest of us and we collected in the pool below the drop. Next up the biggy (pushing 22 feet)- Chris volunteered to be probe; another excellent line and we all followed suit down the left.


Photo: Stuart on Drop number two.

Little could prepare you for the remoteness and beauty of this intense and extraordinary place. My words could not describe it – You just have to feel and experience it. Outstanding and worth every paddle stroke to get to it. We cleared drop number 3 and re-convened. From here on in it was unexplored territory for our team. We thought the technical nature of the raids would ease off but right around the corner from the slides, we were met with a class V followed by a class VI portage. Stu was the only person in our team to run the class V.

Still 2

Photo: Stu on the class V before the class VI (complete with siphons)

My wrist was beginning to hurt at this point and I didn’t trust it to get me through the rapid without consequence. As we portaged, a skull and cross bones painted onto the rock walls was our cue to exit stage left for another cumbersome portage followed by a large seal launch. We knew we had about 3 km left to run, but we were expecting class IV not V; horizon line after horizon line just kept presenting themselves to us. We were taking it in turns the scout and call each other through. After abour 1.5 km, we were reminded that time waits for no man and we were loosing light fast. At 8 pm we knew were were not going to make it down the river before nightfall and we gathered the group together to formulate a plan. We decided upon ditching the boats and hiking out. We gathered our paddles, ropes, chocks, pullys, slings, first aid kits and refilled our water bottles. Oops…no head lamp between us and set off on our mammouth hike out- in the dark.

We followed the river downstream for a while until we were forced upward and in amongst some of the steepest Corsican terrain I’ve encountered. Stu lead the way, bulldozing the brush (sometimes trees) as he went. We all followed as a team behind him trying to ensure that every foot step was onto firm ground. On occasion we had to dangle our feet into thin air as we slid across tree branches on our little butts. Thorny bushes were there to trap us unawares. No real sense of how far we travelled, we stopped and re-grouped often for some water and banter. For the entirety of the hike, the comments were something like….”Alright at the front?”"Yes, Alright at the back”.”Yes, I think the trees are thinning out”- and so it continued for hours. Then came the classic of the hike out. Paul shouted to Stu, “Where are you Stu?” And out came the reply.”I’m by the big tree”. Given we were in thick forest, it was quite the comedy moment. Spirits never faltered from being high, no-one panicked and we all just got on with our extended adventure. Then the sweetest sounding words from Andy: “I think I see the road”. I was in disbelief for about 20 seconds until I felt the tarmac beneath my feet- much more solid than the loose rock and brush that had laid before me for the previous 4 hours. At 12:30 am, we made it back to the van. The ability of what is achievable as a cohesive team never ceases to amaze me. Needless to say, hugs to everyone from me (esp Andy and Stu for leading the way) and beers into the night back at the Gite, re-capping, assessing and laughing at the day’s (and night’s) events.

There is a Rolling Stones song called The Midnight Scrambler. We decided to call our now cemented solid crew the same name, it just somehow seemed so appropriate ;-) Imagine the surprise to the Midnight Scramblers (minus me) when they returned the next day to paddle the boats out to discover a nice footpath not 50 m downstream of where we’d blazed the trail less than 12 hours earlier. But hey, it wouldn’t’ have been half the adventure if we’d discovered it the night before. Type 2 fun, with type 3 potential. Simply AWESOME.


2nd Annual Corsican Pilgrimage- Lower Golo

Well, its that time of year again, when the temperatures in the Mediterranean start to rise and the snow begins to melt and trickle its way down the mountain side. And where does that precipitation transition to? Well, its filling the classic Corsican bedrock as we speak.


Photo: National symbol for Corsica

I’ve just returned from the Corsican playground and am still riding the high. And, man, didn’t the rivers offer up their boof and flare goods to our team; who consisted of Andy (Escape to Adventure), Stuart, Paul, Chris and myself. We set off from Dover at midnight, drove through the night (comfort breaks only) straight to Toulon.


The 12 hour ferry journey enabled us to bond over more than a few beers and share kayak stories to the wee, wee hours. We hoped off in Bastia and high tailed it to the Gite in Aleria (east coast) to dump kit and sink our teeth into our first river of the week.


Photo by Stuart: Team Midnight Scramblers (minus Stu)

We opted for the lower Golo. Andy, Stu and I had run this last year and knew there was only one tricky rapid on the river. Last year Stu drove through the guts and all went well. As we approached, I hoped outta my boat, set saftey and called Stu through. We then figured out why Marcus was calling this rapid the vaccum cleaner. Stu hit the guts (again) and this time got sucked down but popped up pretty quickly (thankfully).


Photo: Andy on the Vac cleaner (from last year)

Next up a couple of German paddlers came through – one with a cracking line but the other guy got sucked into the Hoover for about 6 seconds before it spat him out. Stu and I were very worried- i’ve never seen a paddler and boat completely disappear for so long before- he was fine when he eventually rolled up. Once again we were reminded that En Corse (in Corsica) that you have to be very aware and mindful of what look like innocuous holes.


Photo: The mountains, warm air, great water. Ahhh…Corsica!!!

The rest of the run was ace with lots of teeny flare drops, waves and a few sticky holes.  A brilliant warm up with lots of opportunity to establish  the team and lubriate those rusty skills.


Photo:  Ech…Posers! Far too much white skin.