Around here, April is when the whitewater kayaking season starts. Due to the unseasonably warm weather (ugh, climate catastrophe), I’d been out on the water a couple of times already after the winter. But today was the official season opening with our local club. So the 14yo and I went.

The Saalach river is our home stretch, just over the border in Austria. The bit from Au to Unken is a perennial favourite. It’s mostly Grade II (ie. fairly easy), going up to Grade II-III in a few places. This means it’s a good run for people who know the basics of whitewater kayaking after training for one season or so, but who want to build some experience.

Even the difficult spots are very fair to the paddler. They’re easy to scout, either from the boat or by briefly getting out; and there’s always a quiet stretch afterwards, making it easy for the safety paddlers to fish out any swimmers and their material.

We had perfect weather: sun and just above 20°C of air temperature. (The water was cold, but it always is.) At ca. 45 cubic meters per second, the water level was perfect, too. While the Saalach almost always has enough water, this stretch can be a little rocky at lower levels. But today, there was enough water for us to just glide through, but not so much that any interesting features would simply have been flooded.

So we went in groups of about five people, just gliding, running through the waves, playing with the currents, and admiring the views.I was the designated safety paddler for my group, so I was running last in line. This is an extremely relaxing position until something happens. But nothing did – everyone in our group, including my kid, was experienced enough to make it down the river without a swim. (Or maybe they weren’t playing hard enough ;-) )

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level 3 is a good heading


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  1. great footnote! ↩︎