Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Our last weekend of kayaking in the Alps (Alps part due)

Castle Finstermuenz on the Inn River, Switzerland

Our last weekend in Europe found us back in Switzerland. We paddled Thursday and Friday on the Inn River while waiting for our weekend-warrior paddling buddies to be free to join us. The Inn has multiple sections and is "roadside" which made for good hitchhiking for us. Once we launched on the river though, we rarely saw the road, and the canyons seemed quite remote. Don hitched a ride with a couple in a converted 4x4 firetruck RV, and was coveting their ride. (Perhaps until we never got over 45 kmh going up the hills. Maybe our rented 2.0 liter VW TDI is a bit more appropriate for driving the roads in the Alps, but they had a nice mobile house)

One of the highlights of the Inn was the Finstermuenz section, which flows from Switzerland into Austria (yes, carry your passport) and besides having great big powerful rapids, ends with a float under a the Finstermuenz castle bridge.

Darcy on the Valser Rhein, Switzerland

The weekend came around and we reconnected with Philip and did a run on the Valser Rhein. It was very short, but felt like a full day after we were done (there were a ton of rapids packed into only a few km). It was up there as one of our favorites in Europe.

Phillip leading the way on the Valser Rhein

The Valser Rhein is one of those rivers where you don't want to miss any eddies. A couple of innocuous looking entrances led to some big drops.
Darcy preferring the smaller falls on this one...

Happily the crux falls has a kick ass eddy above it. I suppose it's runnable, maybe the Bomb Flow boys would go...but it looked like a high likelihood of reconnecting HARD towards the bottom. The portage was fun though, and you can slide off the shelf and catch the last part of the drop. Very pretty canyon as well.

On Sunday Peter caught up with us again, along with Fredy and another Phillip, and we paddled the Reuss River. They all said we were quite lucky to find it with water in it, as it has a few dams on it and rarely runs. Philip #2 has been paddling in Switzerland for 30 years, and it was the first time he was able to get on it!


Old Roman bridge on the Reuss River, Switzerland

We have been very impressed with the bridge and tunnel building throughout Switzerland. I guess they've been practicing since Roman times...

some "California slides" on the upper

Everyone else had to go back to work, but we had Monday free before we had to catch our flight out of Milan. We thought since the Reuss was so fun, and rarely runnable, we would camp out nearby and paddle it again while we had the chance. There was even a upper section starting at the "Devils Canyon" that had some amazing slides between portages that looked really interesting from the bridge.

But while we were camping it rained a bit that night...

Where have the California slides gone?

We had a bad feeling about the water level as we drove down to the canyon, but as we got out of the car at the scenic overlook and got sprayed by the river while standing in the parking lot...we figured it was just a "tad" above optimum. You could smell the dirt in the river and a couple of the fun looking slides under the bridge were now horrible holes. At least we got a good run in on Sunday. I guess we can add "way to high" to "too low" on the list of reasons why it's hard to get a chance to paddle the Reuss.
Sunday parts of this were runnable...
Monday. Oh well. Off to Milan

Overall it was still a great weekend and a great end to our time in the Alps. We're off to Norway now. Thanks to all the nice folks we met on our travels that made it all so fun.

And you all should remember to sign up for our gear giveaway. Next week we are giving away an IR drytop, subscription to Kayak Session, and a Sea to Summit drybag.

Go to our website for more info and to SIGN UP!


all this traveling has made me miss hanging at the lodge in Ecuador...