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Corsica 2012

The Clash were ringing in my ear, Should I stay or should I go? Reports of dog low rivers in Corsica were throwing all our well laid plans out the window. The euro-tunnel and ferries had been books for months and though it seemed like a good idea at the time to not pay a bit more for insurance this decision was coming back to roost. We either went and risked getting shut out on dry rivers or stay home with no refunds. Every European river level website was consulted but everywhere was either still frozen or the spring melt had come early and the water was already gone. In the end only Rob and I decided to jump in the car and hit the road. The plan was to take the euro-tunnel to France and decide en route if we turn left and go to Bavaria where there was rumours of water, detour to Provence to see if the Tinnie, Var and Ubye where running or head straight for the ferry into Bastia out of Toulon. All of this went out the window when a few hours into France we stopped for a nap after a 23:00 euro-tunnel crossing that turning into 6 hours of sleep. A decision had to be made now as there was no time left. So foot to the floor and we pulled into Toulon with little time to spare to catch the ferry. The 10 hour crossing from Toulon to Bastia was very pleasant as we had booked a cabin.

Calm sailing from Toulon to Bastia

Arriving into Bastia at 7am well rested and with a text saying the Taravo was running we drove 3 hours across the island to meet up with Myles, Will, Dory, Jo and Rhodi. The water level was medium – low and it was a great warm up run.

Yours truly on a forgotten name drop on the Taravo

Getting a bit slotty on the Taravo

Jo running the goods on the Taravo

The trip was planned to coincide with the 2012 Corsica Kayak Festival. However, due to low water levels the festival was called off at the last moment. We showed up at Camp Ernella on the Tavignano River expecting the site to be empty, but hope springs eternal for kayakers when it comes to water and the place was full. So there was an unofficial festival full of paddlers from around Europe and North America. The site was nice with free showers, fresh bread and cheese, camp fires, live traditional

Corsican bands and generous river information. Check it out at http://www.ernella.fr . This is a festival not to be missed and I plan to be back in 2013! We were on the island for eight days and a few rainy nights kept us in the water and the trip only got better after the day one warm up on the Taravo. The following days we hit up the Upper Asco, Middle Vecchio, Tavignano Gorge, Upper Golo, Calasiema, Restonica, Travo and probably a few more that slipped my mind. Some highlights where the Middle Vecchio, the Cathedral section on the Travo and scouting the Upper Vecchio. The scenery was not too shabby either.

Village of Corte only minutes away from the campsite

The upper most reaches of the Calasiema Valley

A possible reason for the lack of water? Upper Calasiema Valley

Two runs on the Middle Vecchio with Rob and the boys, Rich, Phil, Ali and Jonny had some of the best drops and intense moments. The river offers up some challenging drops and a few sketchy sieves. One of the groups had a momentary lack of concentration and ended up on the upstream side of a large boulder with 80% of the current piling into it. This would not normally be an issue, just lean in and push your way around the edge. However, this rock had a few surprises. Just under the water level it was severely back cut and a nearly impossible to see sieve lay on the bank side. There were two of us upstream when our buddy hit the rock and in a blink of an eye he flipped upstream and was stuffed under the rock. He pulled the plug and came out of his boat instantly, the correct move I think, coming to the surface quickly. But he was being pulled into the sieve and luckily got a bit of an anchor for his foot under the water to hold himself out of the sieve. The current was pushing hard and his head was dropping under the water often. The two of us were out of our boats quickly but could not physically reach him so thankfully we had our throw bags in hand. We got a line to him and hauled him upstream, dragging him onto the gravel bar. It was a close call and I cannot remember the last time I saw someone look so scared when he was waiting for us to get the throw line to him. In the end everyone was fine; we finished the river and had a great day.

Middle Vecchio put-in under the double bridges on the twisty D43 mountain road

Yours truly on the Middle Vecchio

Rob lining it up on the Middle Vecchio

Yours truly on the Middle Vecchio

More Middle Vecchio

All accounted for. Take out of the Middle Vecchio

The Cathedral section on the Travo is not to be missed if you make the pilgrimage to Corsica. Paddlers are only allowed on the river a couple days a week so hitting a good water level here is a bit tricky. Lady luck was with us and all the drops went. If it was not such as pain in the a$$ to get back to the top doing loops in the main Cathedral drops would worth the effort. We only dropped two boats in the river working our way up the bank!

Rhodi going to Church on the Travo

Myles accepting the lord into his life on the Travo

Will having a prayer answered on the Travo

Yours truly taking communion on the Travo

Dory going to confession on the Travo

So did the gamble to go pay off when levels were expected to be low and the festival had been cancelled? YES, without a doubt! The bit of rain helped out, the camp site was sweet, the food and wine were good and we paddled some great runs with strangers who are now paddling buddies. I do plan to go back. The Upper Vecchio is calling but that is another story for another day.

River name has slipped my mind but one of the sweetest drops of the trip and my favourite picture. See you there in 2013!

Rubrik: Aktuelles  Poster: Dean Gagnonaktualisiert: 29.08.12 - 08:22

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