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Alpine Paddling – Lower Durance 30/7/17 by Mark Benson

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Ciaran on Pont Neuf

“The Sunshine run”

The Durance from St. Clément down to Embrun is a fine introduction to bigger water (especially in the afternoon). You can get off above the Rabioux wave, which is the only serious drop, and either portage it, or finish. Or inspect (or not) and take your chances – but be warned, there are always a lot of spectators to cheer your run, whether it ends in success or a swim!

After a relaxing lunch-stop at St Clement’s, the shuttle to Embrun completed (thanks, Marianne), the thirteen of us set out on the yellowy flood water. The swift flowing river meant that gaps between rapids were never too long and the rapids themselves had fewer rocks to scrape over and lots of large wave trains. The high level made for some squirrely water, causing Dom a surprise swim on our fun trip down to the Rabioux wave. Once eddied out above the Rab, we took it one at a time to make the run, Keith signalling from below.   A wide left run-in was favoured by many, resulting in some last minute adjustments and a couple of swims.

Kit and kayakers re-united, we wasted no time getting on with the journey; wave trains were now bigger and the water just as squirrelly. Frequent waves, haystacks and small stoppers made for a fast, fun paddle down to the Embrun wave. Hannah was caught out by the increased tow-back from the now swollen stopper, but soon got herself into an eddy to be re-united with her kayak. Various members off the group got themselves back up to the wave for some play-boating. All was going well until Helen took a tumble out of her kayak. Valiantly swimming her kayak into the main flow, Helen began a long swim-cum-group rescue effort. The fast flowing water made it difficult to stop Helen’s kayak, so in the end she had a long clamber along the rocky bank before getting back on the river for the last 50 metres to the get-out.  All in all, a good day out with the Durance at a very nice level for the “Sunshine Run”.

We finished with a swim in the lake at Roche-de-Rame whilst the rest of the group made their way back to the campsite for pizza.

More Photos…..

Hannah on wave at Pony Neuf
8tuart on the wave train at Pont Neuf