65km/1h30m bus ride down to the River Aude for the white water rafting.
Wet suits, helmets, and lifejackets and a paddle. 6 to a boat, plus a
guide.First 5km were Grade 3 rapids, but obviously not exciting enough
for the guides so we played games like practising man (or in our case
Ruth) overboard, capsize drills and all being made to climb to the top
of a 10' rock and jump into the water and swim across the river. Then
we had 2 km of Grade 4 rapids where there were several 2-3' drops where
the raft just plunged down into the water - Ruth at the front squealing
with delight. We also rammed a good few rocks when the front of the
boat would just fold up and throw Ruth back! This last section was
canyoned with the high road wall on one side (the road about 20-30'
above) and a high natural cliff on the other side. Quite stunning.
Then we caught the bus back to the start point and had lunch. For the
afternoon we got thicker wet suits, bigger lifejackets, flippers and
our "hydrospeed" - a cross between a float, a board and the prow of a
ship. You put your arms into it and clench your hands then lie down,
most of your chest on the float. Then you do the same route as we did
in the rafts but with nothing else to protect you from the rocks. You
go in groups of 6 again with the guide leading the way - although often
when she fell back to check on people Ruth ended up leading the way
through the rapids once put on the right line. Needless to say you got
pretty battered as you hit or bounced off rocks- the worst being the
ones below the water line which passed under the float but caught your
knees! Also often when you tried to flip your flippers the water was so
shallow you just cracked your knees on the bottom. After the first 5km
about 1/4 of the group opted out of the Grade 4 section, but Ruth was
determined to do it. The second section
was a lot rougher, the big drops just pushing you right under water -
but we all came through it, tired and bruised. Ruth immediately
declared that she wanted to do it again - but luckily that wasn't an
option. My only real injury was right at the end when following Ruth up
a steep dirt slope to the car park she dropped her paddle and I stopped
to try and pick it up but slipped and came down hard on the top of my
leg - it still hurts!
For supper we went to one of the recommended cheaper resaturants
(generally everything seems expensive) but they did a good Prix Fixe
for Euro 13 with a salad starter, galette and crepe. Just right. Ruth
and I bought the french version of Harry Potter in the bookshop and
spent supper trying to translate it - I think we're four pages in!
***Imported from old blog***