We awoke all excited this morning about Rafting in a glacial river. First things first though as we headed to the local co-op supermarket to buy some groceries to keep our costs down. We also managed to find a Switzerland backpack for around 25 Euro. This will come in handy. So we headed back to the caravan for ham cheese and tomato sandwichs with German style "english bread". For those of you who havent tried this it is like stale bread and very cake like but still quite nice.
We headed up to the top of the camping grounds and awaited for our shuttle bus to take us to the Rafting centre. Whilst on the way to the rafting centre, Fabian our Swiss driver decided to bring out the Aussie and Kiwi jokes. For example what does KIWI stand for?? Keen Interest Without Intelligence.... hehe. Good job Fabian. We got to the Rafting centre and were quickly bundled into a small room and had to fill out the relevant paperwork.
After this had happened we were handed wet suits, wet jackets, life jackets, wet boots and helmets. We were told that the water would be somewhere between 1 and 5 degrees celcius. We all piled into the 2 minivans and were taken to the start of the river. Here we were split into 3 boats of 8 and 1 of 7. Laura and I were in the 1 of 7. Unfortuantely for us so were the only 2 Korean girls so life just got a whole lot tougher.
We met our instructor, Sylvain from France. We picked us out for certain postions in the boat. My job was to be on the front as I was one of the biggest guys to help keep the boat going in the right direction. Laura was in the seat behind me. After a few quicks lessons on the dos and donts of rafting we were into the "practice section" of the river.
We were the first of the four boats to start to head down the river. After about 5 seconds we hit the first rapid and Brent (guy opposite me on the front) and I we head first down into the rapid and the water came shooting straight down our wet jackets. Once that water hits your chest you realise that it is freezing and you really dont want to fall out.
We made our way down the river and were really working quite hard as Sylvain was barking his orders from the back of the boat. After a little while the river evened out a little and he said that it was the end of the practice session. It really didnt feel like practice to me. We headed on down the river into some "class 3 rapids". Man did those things give our arms a work out. We were paddling away and continually getting smashed by rocks and walls of water. At one stage we hit a rapid and all 4 girls and Ryan (the 5 in the middle), fell into the middle of the boat and couldnt get up, so it was just Brent and I paddling with Sylvain steering.
We finally made it through the class 3 rapids and Sylvain finally tells us that we need to pull the boat over to the side of the river, get out carry the boat to the trailer and get in the van as there are class 5 rapids ahead as well as a local fishing zone. So we got all the boats on the trailer and drove down to the next section of river.
Once we were hear Sylvain told us that the next 2 kilometres would be class 4 rapids. Again we were first boat away and as we hit the first set of rapid our whole boat was emursed with water. Fabian the Photographer got a snapshot and all you can see is one of the girls arms hanging out the side of the boat and a little bit of Sylvain!!!
We made our way down the river without too many more hitches. It really was a credit to Sylvain because even though we werent the best rafters ever, Laura being the only one who had done it before, he managed to continually keep the boat in safe positions and avoid hitting anything the whole way down the river.
Finally we made our way to the lake at the bottom and paddled across it to the waiting vans to take us back to the compound. Once back at the compound we got all the protective gear off, had a warm shower and went and had a look at the photos taken by Fabian the whole way down the river. Fortunately for us because we are from BusAbout part of our package is that we get a free cd of photos from Fabian for free as welll as a free coke.
Wearily we were driven back to the camping grounds and Laura made Bratwurst and Baked Beans for dinner. Tired we both climbed into bed to rest our bodies for the Seilpark tomorrow.