The Roya river is known for its swift waters as it races through Breil-sur-Roya. River rafters, canoers, kayakers gravitate here in the summer to test their river paddling skills in the cold, frothy water. Despite regular sojourns here over the last five years, I’ve never tried it–until yesterday!
Saturday in August is not the time to contemplate the stillness of the steep riverbanks but the crowd of helmeted river-rats seemed reassuring to me. They wouldn’t let me drown, would they? Plus, our group of canoe-rafters was managed by the highly competent local company, Roya Evasion. Our guide was a world champion of something river-y. Too bad he’s now tumbled so far as to have to manage the likes of numbnuts like me.
I’d paddled kayaks in lakes and swum in rivers but somehow this business of manoevring a rubbery blob down a roiling river defeated me. We started about 4km upstream and, unfortunately for beginners like me, it was not in a calm part of the river. I didn’t quite understand how to actually steer the thing so my 11-year-old boatmate and I immediately became wedged between two rocks causing other rafts to crash into us. One of the monitors hurried over and dislodged us, then recommended that he be with an experienced adult. Good thinking.
I got my own kayak and nervously set forth into the whitewater. I managed to hit the rapids backwards, then sideways and then underwater with the kayak overturned above me. I slid down the river for a while trying to grab hold of the thing until finally we came to rest along the banks. The alert monitor paddled over and urged me onto his kayak, giving mine to a little girl who looked a lot less spooked than I was. I felt a little bad for sending the kid into the river on her own but, hey, in the whitewater it’s every dame for herself.
With the monitor doing all the steering, I was finally free to actually enjoy the experience and smirk at all the other incompetents sliding off their kayaks, paddling into rocks and trying to keep a game face about it all. The descent lasted about 1 1/2 hours and was absolutely thrilling. Would I do it again? Hell, yes. If they let me.Follow me!