Day 20 - Feeling like a kayaker!
I’m struggling to keep track of everything we are doing. It’s such a jam packed holiday if I even get one day behind I’m scratching my head as to what I did 36 hours ago. I can’t keep track of the rest of the group, everyone is having fun but we’ve been a little fragmented these last couple of days. So here it is, as well as I can remember.
It’s Sunday, and it’s the 1st of July, a new month has crept up on me, and half the year has gone. I can’t believe it’s half way through the year, half way through the Alps trip and well over half way through my holiday. It’s put me in a somewhat contemplative mood, and I’m tired, not just from the need for sleep, but starting to feel that I’m missing home, my horse and my family. Anyway I gather myself up, get my sh*t together and head out for another day on the water.
Today we are heading to the Gyronde again, it’s a bit of a drive, but by no means the longest on the trip. I know this is the full on, fast and furious get on, so I’m a tad nervous. I feel that this is often a good thing though, it reminds you not to become complaisant just because you’ve done it before. (Not that I’m really at any risk of doing that yet!). We’ve got 9 people out to paddle, Bill, Jamie and Tom Tom all go to the upper get on, and Rob, Matt, Ali and I go to the pipe bridge, Sam has decided she will meet us to paddle at Argentiere again.. The wait for the shuttle feels long today, I do a little stretching but it’s more of a token gesture, I’m much too tired to stand for too long.
When the ‘big boys’ get down to the pipe bridge we’ve organised groups and we get on the water in order and get going. Bill, Ali, Tom Jnr and Matt go in the first group and Rob, Tom Snr, Jamie and I go second. It’s that GO, GO, GO! Feeling from the start again but I’m in to a rhythm and enjoying myself much sooner this time. We make a couple of eddies so that we don’t end up on top of group one, but generally just keep moving on. There have been a couple of moments I really wish Keith had been with us as some moves I made felt really sweet, I felt like a proper kayaker for a change. He needed his rest though so I’ll have to contain my excitement until later!
At the weir both groups gather up and we go one at a time through. I remember it from last time and after the leaders scout the line to check it’s still clear, they call us through. Then we split in to our groups again to paddle the last bit to l’Argentiere. There is a little surf wave just before we get there, and everyone has a play. I even have a little go at surfing myself. I’m feeling on top form today. Surprising how much a fast cold river can wake you up and clear your head!
At l’Argentiere find Sam and make a plan. This is where I had a good swim last year, and although the swim here isn’t too bad, with nice deep water and very minimal consequences, I’d still rather stay in my boat. I remind myself how much better I am, and that I now have tools in my tool kit to deal with what tripped me up last year. The plan is that Tom Tom, Matt and Jamie will run down, having a play on the way, and when they are further down the rest of us will follow. We will get to the first main eddy before the course starts, head through the first main wave in the centre of the river, aiming river left to get the second or third eddy down in the centre, then see how we are from there.
Of we go to the first eddy, *concentrate – paddle hard – drive the boat – aim across the eddy line – edge – angle – paddle – cut off the downstream momentum – phew*. Not the nicest of eddies but it’s big enough for all of us, we’re all in so it’s on to the next. I’ve pre-warned Bill that moving eddies get me in my panic zone quick (reminding him of my first time paddling with him where I got pretty flustered in a boily eddy), so he doesn’t make me hang about too long or try to add to my mental pint glass here. The glass is full. On to the next eddy *break in upstream – edge – strong paddle stroke – attack the wave - *crash* I’m through – oops the hole got the back edge – quick brace – blink blink blink – keep paddling – aim at the eddy line – paddle hard – urrrgh that’s a horrible eddy line and the eddy isn’t much better* I like this eddy even less, but I can get myself up to the rock to hold myself still. This calms me a little and Bill suggests another eddy on river right, he briefly explains the line and once the rest of the group is safely in eddies, we move on. *edge – angle – paddle forward – keep straight on the slack water – ready to paddle in to the eddy – kill that downstream momentum* My glass is overflowing, I flatly refuse the next suggestion of another eddy, I want to paddle through now. Ali and Rob go to another eddy on river left and Bill takes me through the last part of the course. Type 2 fun, as soon as I’m at the final beach to get out, I’m amazed at myself. Not only did I tackle last years demons, I added 2 eddies and I did them well (ish). Awesome paddle!
We get off now, and have lunch. As soon as I can I get my phone to message Keith (He’s having a day off to rest at the house) and then settle in for lunch. Some of the group are going to do another lap of the course and head to the Onde after lunch and a couple ar etaking in a Via. There aren’t enough cars to split three ways so Sam and I, after messaging the boys at the house decide to hang around for them. Gregg and Chucky have gone bike riding this morning at Sere Chevalier and are now back at the house with Keith. They come to join us at l’Argentiere as Le Lac is heaving with people already. There is some sort of event going on at the moat/lake here, with music and rafts going round, so it’s quite nice to laze in the sun here, and take a dip in the water.
Keith has already done most of the prep for dinner, so when we get back there isn’t much to do but wait for it to cook. We’re up late in to the night, drinking, chatting, laughing, and Keith and I take a late night stroll to see the stars as it’s a very clear night. We don’t have to go far out of the town walls to lose enough light pollution to see the stars well, and with the moonlight we can see the river below the Old Roman bridge.