Looking forward to spring makes me reflect back on last spring kayaking in Europe, which was like a roller-coaster zipping around to all the kayaking destinations in Europe.
Slovenia is always a great start to the season. The whitewater is not necessarily hard, but for the first strokes on the water and getting used to the flow, it’s a great place to start the season. By the first week of April it was time to pack the van and head over to Corsica.
The journey to Corsica marks one of my favorite times in the year. Corsica is just special; Paddling on an island is always cool and the fact that you can put in close to the snow line, paddle the river and afterwards hop in the car and in 40 minutes be drinking coffee on the
beach next to the Mediterranean. The whitewater is mostly low volume bedrock slides and rapids, which takes a bit of getting used to but is well worth it. Most of the classic runs were in and so there was no shortage of colorful paddling vans zipping up and down the narrow Corsican roads. The place is magical, and as Ron Fischer once put it - you don’t come to Corsica just for kayaking…
After Corsica it’s just an overnight ferry and a few hours drive to the European spring paddling mecca of Piemonte and Ticino. The snow had started melting and the classic runs Sesia, Equa and Verzasca all started flowing. One of my friends from the US once described Italy as five star camping! It is hard to argue; you wake up, make breakfast, go to the closest coffee shop for a world class cappuccino, go kayaking and have an amazing pizza for dinner. All in the same valley and if you are lucky (as I was in Val Sesia) you have this whole package at your doorstep.
Also my new Kokatat Maximus Centurion PFD had arrived to Italy and I had a chance to intensively test this great life jacket. It quickly became my favorite PFD and still is to this date. It fits perfectly, the new pockets shape is easy to access and the additional “belly” pocket is very handy for some essentials including a rescue sling, snack bar and cell phone – which are getting bigger and not as easy to transport anymore if you hadn’t noticed.
From Val Sesia in Piemonte it’s just over a pass to Ticino in Switzerland. Some of the most famous rivers in the Alps are flowing into Lago Maggiore on the Swiss/Italian border. Verzasca would be the one holding the symbolical crown. This river is a whitewater jewel; with its amazing slides, boofs and overall amazing rapids, it is one of my all-time favorites and I love coming back here.
Europe in spring is awesome in its own kind of way. Kayaking here not only connects you to the nature of these amazing rivers and canyons, but also to the inherent cultural heritage of thousand year old villages, bridges and castle ruins. And most of the time these are all very connected here in Europe. I think this is one of the reasons why I love coming back so much!
I’m looking forward to what 2016 will bring and already have my Corsica tickets booked!
"Italy is like five star camping; you wake up, make a breakfast, go to the closest coffee shop for a world class cappuccino, go kayaking and have an amazing pizza for dinner."