Vallee De L'Orb - Tarassac to Ceps canoe trip
When I heard we’d be staying in the Vallee De L’Orb I knew we’d have to go to Moulin De Tarassac for another canoe trip on this excellent river. I’m a novice at whitewater, but with a good run of grade 1 to 2 rapids on a sit-on-top on offer, in hot summer weather with the water not too cold, what’s not to like? Last time round it was an expedition from Poujol to Tarassac with a bunch of guys, starting with a run down a flume and ending with “rapide le plus difficile” just before Tarassac’s suspension bridge. This time I’d be paddling with Kokila and had no idea what we’d end up doing. On arrival they said it was lunch time so they’d rather we did the 10k run downstream from Tarassac ending at Ceps, otherwise we’d have to wait a while for a lift upstream to Poujol. As the route was the same grade as Poujol, we opted for an immediate start from Tarassac and arranged a pickup some 4 hours later as the route is estimated at 3.5 hours. I had a sneaking suspicion we’d be much quicker.
Kokila took the front seat and I went in the back as the (allegedly) more experienced paddler. This route would be the reverse of the last run I’d done – tough rapids first then easier ones later. So, no time to warm up, just get out there, get used to the boat by paddling a few circles on the flat water under the bridge, then go for it! So, Go For It we did J. That first rapid was challenging – low water levels meant the rocks were near or above the surface and it was hard to get the boat down the right channel – sit on tops are tough to steer but the payoff is they are very stable and ride easily over small rocks without tipping over. In most cases you can blast through an easy rapid. This was not quite easy enough for that, but we negotiated it pretty well and emerged at the bottom unscathed. Soon enough came the second instalment and this one went well too until we found ourselves heading for a tricky rock at the bottom which came on too quickly for us to avoid it. The boat went up a bit too steep for us to stay in and we slid out into the water, but it was shallow enough for us to catch the boat, stand up on the rocks, ease back in and paddle on. No drama, good fun :). Shame I only have pics of the tame sections.
From then on we got much more expert at the rapids, which came up every few minutes (with calm, flat water in between) – Kokila spotted the rocks and called left or right and paddled for momentum, I stern-ruddered or swept at the back to get us on the right line. No further spills, but we did get pinned sideways on a couple of rocks – we managed to extricate with some bouncing and pushing off rocks with the paddles and all was well. There was time for a stop to chill on a shingle beach and enjoy the scenery. The only other obstacles were 2 footbridges, one of which was high enough to go under and the other a mandatory portage (boat drag of 40m or so) because it was too low to safely shoot – when we finally got to Ceps (an obvious take-out before an old stone bridge) we’d paddled two and a half hours and were able to dry out in the sun and still catch the 4pm pick up van. Great paddle, great river, especially for near-beginners like us. I’d recommend Moulin de Tarassac – the gear is good, they provide helmets but don’t insist, there are waterproof drums that strap to the boats for your tat/clothes/valuables, you also get a choice of single or tandem boat and it comes in at around 23 euros each (2014 price but I think it was the same when I was last there in 2012).
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