Just a quick summary – sorry its so wordy. I’m sure I probably have some of the river names wrong so I’ll fix them when the trip report comes out on the club website. You can see some of my photos from the trip there when it is updated in the next few days. You can see some of the great scenery if you check out the area on Google Earth and you can see some webcams in the area here.
Friday – Into town for last minute shopping/packing then off to Maidstone to repack everything into our friend’s car. By 3:00 we were at Folkstone to catch the Eurotunnel. An uneventful drive through France with little traffic and a nights sleep in a hotel at Nuit St George
Saturday – After breakfast, back in the car to continue driving. We stopped for lunch at Col de Lautaret and then it was off to Briancon for some groceries and then to the campsite at L’Argentiere-la-Bessee. The campsite was a bit crowded – 26 people on our pitch but the showers were great and it was right on the river’s Slalom course.
Sunday – After the usual faff the club headed down the river (the Durance from Argentiere to St Clements) and I headed off to the cafe by the take-out. Interesting ice cream combinations – Lemon Sorbet with Vodka. Not sure what the swim count was but everyone arrived safely. As the grocery stores were closed a few of us headed into L’Argentiere-la-Bessee fro dinner and had a great dinner in a cafe there then found a pub to watch the football. I think they must have felt overrun when the entire club showed up.
Monday – Probably the Upper and Lower Claree. A few swims at the get on and chase boating thoughout the day – by car – trying to keep an eye on the river for stray boats and kit. Luckily we got all the boats although I think a couple paddles were lost.
Tuesday – The Onde in the morning, again with a few swims. We were about to head down to the take out when we had to take one of the paddlers to the hospital in Briancon for stitches. Not sure what the afternoon river was but the takeout was at the canoe shop at St Clements again. We camped alongside a lake (don’t know the name) that night and had a great time swimming then heading to the restaurant on the other side of the lake. Great food, and a fun evening.
Wednesday – Off to the Ubaye valley with a look at the racecourse section of the Ubaye and a decision to paddle the upper Ubaye instead (I paddled this in July 1996 and manged to NOT swim – Hooray). I worked on my knitting and had a relaxing day at the get on before we headed back to Briancon to camp. The 5-Vallees campsite was quite nice with a pool and lots of space. We’ll be staying here for the rest of the week.
Thursday – The Durance again from St Clements to Embrun – a section that contains the famous Rabioux wave (I swam on the Rabioux once and surfed it – entirely by accident- in 1996). Got a lot of knitting done at the take out while getting covered by tree fluff. One boat lost but everyone was OK. Heading back to Briancon we drove back over Col d’Izoard (2361m) while the other card headed back to the campsite more directly for the pool before heading off to Briancon Old Town for dinner out. I was slightly defeated by the Raclette. Who thought you could eat so much cheese?
Friday – Not sure what rivers this was. I has a great time in the pool at the campsite
Saturday – Time to pack up and headed back over the Col d’Izoard to paddle the Guil, ending up at Chateau-Queyras. I went up to the Chateau went in and wandered around it. Well worth a visit. All ltoo soon though it was time to head home and after they finished the river we decided to go over another Col on the way back – the Col du Galibier which is higher up from Col de Lautaret and there is still some snow at the top of the pass. The road up didn’t have two lanes marked so i was holding onto my seat a bit. We did see 2 Marmots though, they look a bit like a cross between a beaver and a badger