Yes, canyoning. Not canoeing. What I thought in the beginning. Kayaking? – was my last hope. Nope. That was so far the most extrememly absurd thing I’d done. But it starts quite innocently. You put on a wetsuit, like for diving. And harness, like for climbing. And that’s pretty much what you’re gonna be doing: diving and rappelling down a canyon, filled with ice cold mountain water.
I was still smiling oblivious to what’s to come. And before I knew it, I was doing my first 6 meter jump into a canyon pool. It was an “ass-rock-bottom-touch-down”. Can’t put it better than that. Those adorable yellow pampers is the protection. Not for your bum, but four your wetsuit. So you don’t damage it while sliding down and/or falling on your bum.
Basically, that’s how it goes. You start by making your way through the river boulders, with your guide checking the “safety” of the route. Of course, like anything else in this life, you can do it without a guide. But you should know at least the basic “hazards” of canyoning: hydraulics – that can pin one down to the bottom, flash floods – that can flash one down (yes, like in a toilet), potholes – that can keep one in without chance of escape (like in a water well) and narrow slots – that can trap one in without chance of squeezing through.
“Just put your hand on the opposite rock, your foot there… and yes, make sure you don’t hit the rocks. You’ll be fine” – my guide said.
Aaaaand again! But this time into the pothole. “Are you sure?” – I looked at him with last hope he’d say “no”. – “I’m sure!.. But you’d better make sure you reach the bubbles…” – he said.
“Okaaaa-aa-aaaa…” [splash] – I said.
After getting out of the pothole we faced the “hydraulics”. Which is basically sliding down the rocks that have been carved as natural slides over centuries with substantial amount of water pressure. Hence the ropes. So you don’t get “flashed away”. You’ll be amused how surprising you’ll find the experience of surviving the first slide.
And then you get the hand of it and start playing Tarzan.
Then we hit one of those slides, compared to which Dubai’s “Leap of Faith” needs an upgrade.
… except that there are no sharks at the end.
The beauty of this pothole was that you could climb back up on iron rods attached to the rocks and do the slide all over again – yeeey!
After a couple of joyful slides, we had to get down a waterfall. A 30 meter one.
“Ahh.. just jump in there” – my guide said – “Swing THROUGH a waterfall, then you’ll see a wall, it’s gonna be kinda perpendicular, and you’re gonna be almost vertical, so you’re not gonna touch it, but try, and then abseil.” – “Oh ok” – I said, as if I understood every bit.
Okay, that one was a biggie. I’ve rappelled down an equivalent of a 10 story building before, but not with a waterfall gushing down it.
What I didn’t see coming was the force of the waterfall knocking me off my feet and making me smash the rock face and face all that water, literary. And that’s how I ended up behind the waterfall. Like I always imagined in fairy tales. Except there was no “secret passage”. Or fairies… so I had to take pictures myself.
Final rappel was a “kiddy stuff”.
Our brave canyoning team sure made impression on the cows.
‘FUN FACTS’: Canyoning as a sport emerged only recently at the end of the 20th century. French claim they founded it. Greeks say they started it. And Spaniards say Spain was the birthplace. But now it is gaining popularity all over the world and can be done anywhere where mountain canyons with flowing water can be found. This little adventure took place not far from Megeve in France.