Finally, the first proper river run of the 2023 season! Once on the water, I felt the weight of winter and too much time indoors fall right off my shoulders.

The Leitzach is an easy (grade I-II), pleasant little creek at the foot of the Alps. It’s a good place to kick off the season and recover the feel for the boat. That’s why our club traditionally heads out there in April, when things get going.

I had my two oldest kids along. We just bought a new boat for the younger of the two (he had outgrown the old one), and it’s doing wonders for him: he’s feeling much more confident on the water. The older kid wouldn’t normally have bothered to come out for such an easy creek, but we made him a safety paddler in one of the groups, so he could practice fishing others out of the drink.

The water level was at 40cm, which is quite good, relatively speaking. We still hit lots of stones, and on some passages we actually had to get out and walk. But it’s still a damn sight better than the same creek at just 32cm, which is… no fun at all.

The weather was still cold (6°C or so, brrr), but that didn’t bother anybody very much. I added hand warmers to my equipment, and they helped the kids a lot when we took a break.

On the Leitzach, there’s really only one spot that’s a bit challenging to paddle. It’s a short rapid under a bridge, close to the start of our stretch. On the day there was a tree lying in there, blocking the left half of the exit and making it too dangerous to run. So we decided to pull it out. It was heavy, but we managed with a couple of ropes and a few people.

After that, almost everyone in the group managed to run the rapid safely - even my younger kid, who did this for the first time. He loved it so much that he hauled his boat back up, and did a second run right away!