How does down a grade 3 glacial whilst holding onto a piece of (for dear life) sound to you? Well, that’s Hydro- . You in?
All in the name of developing our activities programme, Matt, our MD, decided that it was necessary that we try out hydro-speeding as our end of season team reward and consider it for next season – thank you very much Mr Barker, don’t mind if we do!
We had seen people doing it during the summer when we were At no point did it seem silly for people to be holding onto floats and making their way downstream, nor did it seem frivolous or just a little scary. However, once you’ve donned your “sexy” wetsuit, put your “restricts breathing” . on and stood there holding a piece of foam, concern starts to set in – so remind me again, when did we think this was a good idea??
Now I know how our guests felt when they were going rafting or skiing or tree climbing for the first time, doubt has a funny way of creeping its wily way in. You look to the river – the river seems reasonable – I believe we can be best friends I ask and you will look after me on won’t you Mr river?
Sitting on the riverbank the instructor (my 2nd best friend) starts to explain the technique, which was kind of like this:
1) You jump in the water facing upstream (but isn’t that the wrong direction?)
2) Then you make a 180 degree turn (I understand now)
3) Head for rapids, not the large rocks
4) Don’t try and stand up or you’ll get stuck and drown (great)
5) Kick without bending your knees using your “highly impractical” flippers
6) Hold onto your float
Fine, I am ready, but why is he stalling? What’s that, say that again? The river is not high enough or fast enough? Oh yes, how could I forget? Every day at 14h00, ‘they’ release water held by the Dam from the Lac de Chevril into the to increase its velocity and flow, thus making the River more… exciting! Brilliant!
Seriously, exciting IS the word for it. After the initial “these flippers are uncomfortable and the river is still cold”, it gets REALLY good! It’s the closest thing you’ll get to being a salmon (should that be a life ambition of yours).
Just like the white-water-rafting, the guide was patient and clear with instructions and basically you follow him, like a good little fishy. He’ll get you to try some exercises like capsizing yourself and if you’re brave and have the energy, you can try surfing the swells and eddies à la Dougie and Tim. I was not so brave but loved being thrown around by the rapids, don’t get me wrong – white-water-rafting is great but hydro-speeding should definitely be considered. It is more physically demanding though, so make sure your body is up for it as well as your kid-ish spirit!
The only downside I can see is if you suffer from . Wearing flippers is not the best for cramp sufferers as our dear Matt found out, which made the experience a little less superb. I say this but really he was being a big girl’s blouse and despite being a qualified lifeguard he was bricking it for at least the first half of the journey – and subsequently blaming it on cramp. However, once he’d figured out how to the handle the cramp (fear) he realised how much fun it was.
So there you have it, floating along in water with a piece of foam is not just for those learning to swim, it’s also for those that want to have a bit of fun and hang out with some fish.
NB: at no point during my trip did I see a fish, but then, I was having too much fun, maybe next time!