European Packrafting Meet-up Soca

It's May 1st and we are on our way to Soca again. This is the second edition of the European Packrafting Meet-up and last year was such a good roundup, that we wanted this to become an annual event, every year around May 1st on the Soca river in Slovenia.

Although it is still sunny, the weather forecast didn't look promising this year, with quite a lot of rain on the weekend. Those who arrived early for the Whitewater Rescue Course that Seon and Miha were instructing even drove through snow on their way South. But on the bright side, this meant plenty of water in the rivers and good flows to paddle :-)

 Packrafting Whitewater Rescue Course

Whitewater Rescue Course, certified by Rescue 3 Europe.

 

May 1st - Arrival Day

Tents at the European Packrafting Meet-up

Photo by Matthias Stern.

The first day is arrival day with no program, some people go paddling straight away, others arrive later on and join around the fire pit after pitching their tent.

Packfrafting Meet-upGirl power! Jen & Katja. Photo by Mark Oates.

 

May 2nd - Welcome Briefing, Packrafting Workshops and Presentations

European Packrafting Meet-up Soca

Welcome Briefing. Photo by Robert Gamweger.

On the second day, we start with a big welcome briefing: safety information, introduction of supporters, organisation of workshops and general logistics. We are around 70 people, too many participants to introduce everybody, but Harold from the Netherlands was so kind to produce a little booklet with a bio of all participants who have sent information and a profile photo. Big thanks to him!

Participants Booklet European Packrafting Meet-up

Participants Booklet.

Soon after the briefing, the first workshop starts, by Sebastian from Land Water Adventures, on Expedition (bad weather) packing systems.

Workshop at the European Packrafting Meet-up

Photo by Matthias Stern.

At the same time, another group heads off with Annika from Packraft Touren for a beginners/intermediate coaching on the river.

There are also workshops to practice Flip Self Rescue Techniques with Robert Gamweger, Eddie Runs with Gabriel from Outventurous and paddling coaching with Mark Oates.

Packrafting workshop during the European Packrafting Meet-up

Paddling with Annika from Packraft Touren. Photo by Matthias Stern.

 European Packrafting Meet-up Soca

Whitewater Swimming and Rescue Techniques are very important skills, best learned and trained in a Whitewater Rescue Course. Remember to keep your feet up when swimming, priotize. Self, Team, Victim and then gear. The best rescue is the one you dont have to perform.

 

Everybody has seen the weather forecast and makes the best of the still nice weather.

A few dedicated participants sacrifice a last sunny session to set up massive tarps to create a dry spot to gather, eat & drink, and watch the planned  presentations and films. Huge thanks to those who helped setting everything up, it made a such a difference for the rainy days to come!

European Packrafting Meet-up Soca

Several tarps and tents will protect us from the rain. Photo by Matthias Stern.

 

In the evening, we let ourselves be inspired by presentations from Gabriel (Outventurous) on his Greenland trips as well as Konstantin from Hikeventures about his recent Grand Canyon trip.

 

May 3rd - More paddling despite the rain

European Packrafting Meet up on the Soca River

Incredible Soca colors, even in the rain. Photo by Mark Oates

Eventually the rain starts, but we are all well prepared and most people just continue enjoying the meet-up, go paddling and there are plenty of well attended workshops again. Annika, Gabriel and Mark lead groups to coach them on different packrafting skills, while Seon teaches Whitewater Swimming and Throw bagging. The colors of Soca are still incredible and river flows a bit higher but still great to paddle for everybody. Most of us just stay in their drysuits all day and packraft as much as they can :-)

In the evening, one of the main focuses of the event - river protection - gets presented: Tobias Schäfer from the River Film Fest EU shows a Mini Flow Film Festival with the following films:

Save the Vjosa River

50 Favorite Things We Love About Rivers

Salmon without Rivers

The Undamaged Documentary Teaser 

The Super Salmon Trailer

Run Wild Run Free: 50 years of Wild and Scenic Rivers Official Trailer

Sven Schelling from the Anfibio Packrafting Store also shows a short film about a Balkan Trip: Biwak rockt den Balkan (German with English subtitles).

 

May 4th - Last day of packrafting workshops

European Packrafting Meet-up Soca

Workshop with Mark Oates.

On Saturday, the worst of the rain seems to be over and sun almost peaks out. We get organized in groups to go paddling again, some with Mark or Annika, some in individual groups, and others train rescue skills with Seon.

This is the last evening, and we all come together for a BBQ, followed by a raffle  and then a presentation of Rok Rozman from Balkan River Defence.

Seon met Rok during the first stop of the 2019 Balkan Rivers Tour in Romania and we are very grateful that Rok had time to join us this evening and talk about the threatened Balkan rivers.

Check out this video about the first stop of the Balkan Rivers Tour in Romania in April. There will be 2 more stops this year, join them if you can, you won't regret it!

BRT4 | week 1: Romania

 

With the 2019 European Packrafting Meet-up, we managed to raise over 2.600 Euro for Save the Blue Heart of Europe, Balkan Rivers Defence and Living Rivers Foundation.

HUGE thanks to all participants and supporters for their contribution. It is only through collaboration and working together that we can protect the rivers we all love.
You can also support the cause without being a participant of the Meet-up, please check out:

www.balkanrivers.net
www.balkanriverdefence.org
www.riverfilmfest.eu
for more information, action you can take and donations!

 

We really had a great weekend, due to awesome ingredients - a bunch of cool participants from around the globe, a world class river to paddle on our doorstep,  highly skilled packrafters keen on teaching and sharing their knowledge, and inspiring  presentations, films and people.

Some impressions from the Meet-up below!

Packrafter on the Soca during the European Packrafting Meet-up

Photo by Mark Oates.

Packrafter on the Soca during the European Packrafting Meet-up

Photo by Robert Gamweger.

Packrafters at European Packrafting Meet-up

Jen and Max, who first had the idea of creating this Meet-up! Photo by Mark Oates.

Packrafter on the Soca during the European Packrafting Meet-up

Photo by Mark Oates.

Packrafting workshop during the European Packrafting Meet-up

Photo by Mark Oates.

European Packraft Meet-up 2019

Camping Pizza!!! Very impressive. Photo by Robert Gamweger.

European Packrafting Meet-up Soca

Photo by Robert Gamweger.

European Packrafting Meet-up Soca

Photo by Robert Gamweger.

 

Patrick and Konstanting from Hikeventures also did a video about their trip: "One week in Slovenia - Packrafting, Piran, Ljubljana and Vintgar Gorge"

 

And this video is from Outventurous Gabriel: "Packrafting Meet-up Europe 2019: Soca & Koritnica River (Slovenia)"

Notable scenes: Most scenes before 0:50 - Rescue 3 Whitewater Safety Course (organized by Packraft Europe) 1:04 - 3rd canyon of the upper Soca 2:05 - Sorry, friend! :D 2:39 - Practising S-Turns 3:13 - Bunker Run 3:45 - Sofia swimming, then me trying to navigate with 2 paddles 5:46 - Entrance of the Kluze Gorge

 

And also Tom from Packraft Explorers did a nice little video from the event:

 

If you weren't there, I hope this gives you an idea what you have missed! And if you were among the lucky participants, I imagine you enjoyed reviewing the event :-)

 

All good things come to an end and leaving Camp Liza was sad, but I am already looking forward to meet some people at other Packrafting Meet-ups soon again, and we will certainly continue organizing the European Packrafting Meet-up at the Soca around May 1 every year!

Soca Packrafting Meet-up

Photo by Mark Oates.

 

Big thanks to those who volunteered their time to run all those fantastic workshops!!!

 

Thanks as well to the supporters of the event:

Anfibio Packrafting Store 

Land Water Adventures

Packraft-Touren

La Mattina Kafferösterei

 

If you want to know about all packrafting events (as well as safety and conservation topics), feel free to join the Packrafting Events, Safety and Conservaiton Facebook group or read this blog post about 2019 Packrafting Meet-ups and destinations.

Stay safe and see you on the river!

Michaela

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May 12, 2019 — Michaela Crockford-Laserer

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