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France 2023 Tarn Day 4 – Les Vignes to Le Rozier (10 km) by Mike A

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France 2023 Tarn Day 4 – Les Vignes to Le Rozier (10 km) Mike

Disaster strikes again!

Having spent three days tripping in boats that were carrying kit, today was a day for light boats as we were paddling a short section of river before driving over to the Ardèche.

To that end we had broken camp and loaded the cars before doing the shuttle to Le Rozier. The Huttopia campsite at Pas De Souci very kindly agreed to our leaving a car on site again.

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So whilst the drivers shuttled, the remaining crew headed upstream (Keith even used a pole, proving that they weren’t unnecessary bits of kit) to the bottom of the Pas de Souci constriction. Here you could marvel at the ginormous limestone boulders that had smashed into the riverbed after they had fallen several hundred metres from the cliff (swim) face above. After some suitable wonderment, they drifted downstream to meet the drivers at the campsite.

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Now, I was still traumatised by the loss of my cheese and favourite drybag, but I was made more upbeat by the fact that someone had kindly lent me an airbag for the boat. I had brought two, however I had failed to bring the plug to seal the air inside. It was great having 2 airbags as we were now heading off onto the section of the river entitled “Tres sportive et amusant”, ie the best ww on this river with some great scenery, aka, most likely to get wet section. 12km grade 2 with a bit of 3 from the campsite down to Le Rozier.

We headed off, enjoying the responsiveness of the lighter boats, and soon we reached the weir at Les Vignes. This is quite a large weir, and the glissiere has the feel of a log flume ride as you bump your way down between wooden walls that keep you straight. Woosh! Wee! and all that silly tomfoolery, but we made it with dryish boats and HUGE smiles.

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This was a beautiful section of the river, quiet, not enclosed but still surrounded by huge vertical cliffs (swim), and enough rapids to keep you floating along.

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We breezed through the Le Petit Pas de Soucy and soon came to the hardest paddlable rapid on the river – La Sabliere!!!!!

Now, I don’t really know what happened here. It gets a bit hazy.

One minute I was in my boat, not paying any attention to the river as its an easy G3 line, then the next thing I’m dipping an upstream edge and coming out of my boat as its against a rock. A quick push of the boat to ensure it goes down the rapid and doesn’t broach, sees my standing in fast flowing water up to my waist in the middle of the river. Hmmmmmmmm, that didn’t go well, really should concentrate.

OK, options. I’m in shorts, but its France and the water isn’t UK cold, so I’m safe

Swim after boat – no, looks like it would be a bumpy swim

Walk across to the side, no, the flow will likely pull me off my feet and it’s a bumpier swim

Ok, wait for a line to support me across.

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Then came the worst realisation of all, I had lost my Liverpool Canoe Club cap! Noooooooo, it had taken years of sun bleaching and wear to get to the comfortable stage, now i will have to do it all again. I could have cried. My cheese, my favourite drybag and now my favourite cap. Disaster!

Anyway, Ruth and Martin combined to save me from my predicament, and once back in my boat everyone asked what had happened as it was not expected – I still don’t know. 

With the heat of the sun I brought my helmet out, yes I should have been wearing it before the swim, and we paddled down the remaining lovely section of the river to Les Rozier and the get out. Then it was into the cars to do the shuttle over to the Ardèche. Spongy had offered to treat all the swimmers to Ice Cream but alas I was doing the shuttle for the trailer so missed out again.

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During the journey the storm clouds burst as we weaved our way through over the top of the Central Massif (High limestone plateau). My sat nav failed, so we switched to the alternative Aldridge satnav system, which took us down some roads that I’m not sure were designed for cars built after 1950 – breathe in!

All agreed that the Tarn is a fantastic river that we will definitely return to do again.

Paddlers: Keith, Ian, Mike, Ruth, Martin, Nikki, Andy, Graham & Spongy

Click for more photos………….