During the first year after I moved to Geneva, I did a rafting trip down the Dranse river which is in the French Alps about 30 km from Geneva. It starts in the Portes du Soleil ski area and runs down to the Lake at Thonon Les Bains. The Dranse has class 3 rapids which become class 4 when the water volume is high. Before we set off in the raft, the guide checked our ability to survive a capsize by getting each of us to swim through the first rapid. We were hooked and as we headed back towards Thonon afterwards, we saw a kayaking shop and went in and bought inflatable kayaks. The following photos are from a trip on the middle Dranse in 2001.
I did this stretch of the river a number of times, I’ve forgotten how many, and it became a training run where we could play on the rapids and develop our skills. But the river could be very scary when the water level was up and the current high, and there were a number of places with strong currents and undertows, and always the risk of getting caught in underwater debris (tree branches mainly) or pinned by the current under a boulder.
Did you lose your paddle in the last shot? That would have got the adrenaline going.
Not in that shot. But has happened. I wanted to check what level the rapids were on the Drance and pulled out a book on alpine kayaking. I was amused to see their glossary of canoeing terms included:
Paddle – length of wood or plastic/metal. People hold one end and dip the other end in water to achieve a dramatic personality change.
Kayak – small boat shaped like a banana, with a hole in the bottom from which the occupant hangs.
Kayaker – extreme form of deviant paddler, often called “river maggots” by rafters for their habit of infesting rapids.