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Packraft Adventure Challenge, Salza, 2018

Packrafting down the Salza river

When we were talking at the Soca packrafting meet-up in May, we loved the idea of having a second meet-up this year, and doing it journey style, making our way down a river, staying at different campgrounds and carrying our gear with us.

Back then, we weren’t really sure if it could be done logistically and if there was time to prepare it, but it just happened and worked out great!

European Packrafting Meet-up at the Salza
Green waters and blue skies accompanied our way down the Salza river.

We started on the Salza river at the Wildalpen campground, right in front of the slalom course and the wave (notorious for holding packrafts). On Friday, those who were interested, participated in the first ever 1 day Rescue 3 Europe WRTF course (Whitewater Rescue Technician Foundation). We had pushed hard for the creation of this course and Rescue 3 Europe agreed. It was created to give those new to whitewater, especially packrafters and SUPers, a foundation in whitewater knowledge and basic rescue skills.

Late afternoon and evening everybody else arrived and after some meet & greet we gathered around the fire and enjoyed some beers and packrafting talk. The group was smaller than at the Soca event, but still very international, with participants from 7 countries! For 3 paddlers, it would be the first time on whitewater, and what better way to get started than surrounded by other packrafters and after gaining confidence, swimming through a rapid during the rescue course on Friday!

Packrafting Safety course certified by Rescue3
Swimming through a rapid during the Rescue3 Whitewater Rescue course
Eric in the Alpacka Caribou packrafting down Salza river
First time packrafting, not a bad start!

Saturday started early, tents needed to be packed up and a long distance on the river awaited us. Mark Hirst, one of the most experienced Rescue 3 Europe instructors, and owner of Lapin Koskikoulu (Rescue 3 Europe training provider in Finland) joined us for the Rescue courses and gave a short presentation on river assessment skills.

At about 10am with the weather still overcast, we left camp and started making our way downstream. Some decided to run the big rapid to start with, but miraculously no raft got stuck although there were some close calls 😉

15km of pristine river, surrounded by nature and packrafting friends awaited us! By noon, the skies started clearing up and it turned into a picture perfect Indian summer day. The Salza offered a few rapids and plenty of eddies to play around. Flows had improved significantly with lots of rain the week before.

At around 4, we arrived at the Erzgraben take out and went to an idyllic Campground  nearby. Dinner was organised at the restaurant next to the campground with typical Austrian Schnitzel on the menu!

Sunday morning we woke up to fog, camp breakfast and a presentation of Mark about expedition preparation and destination highlights for each month of the year. Certainly fuelled my thirst for adventure and packrafting travels!

Soon the sun broke through the autumn fog and with clear blue skies we made our way back on the river to tackle the canyon section of the Salza. Seon and Mark ran safety for the canyon section and everybody made it through in one piece!

We took out at Saggraben and enjoyed a well deserved lunch together. Afterwards a shuttle brought us all the way back to Wildalpen where we had left our cars. Time seemed to have flown past and a weekend packed with action had come to an end.

 

Looking forward to seeing new and old friends again at the Soca Meet-up next year in May!

A HUGE thanks to everyone who attended, together we managed to raise and donate 180€ to the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign, for more info about how you can help save Europes last wild rivers click here: https://balkanrivers.net/en

 

During the European Packrafting Meet-up Packraft Adventure Challenge

Pre-register for the 2019 European Packrafting Meet-up at the Soca here:  www.packraftingmeetupeurope.com

More information on Rescue 3 Europe certified Whitewater Rescue Training courses for packrafters here: www.packrafteurope.com/rescue-3/

 

More pics of the Rescue courses that took place before and after the Meet-up:

Rescue3 WRTA Whitewater Rescue Technician Advanced
Vertical Rescue training during the Rescue3 WRTA Whitewater Rescue Technician Advanced course.
Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro
Practicing how to cross shallow waters during the Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro course.
Rescue3 WRTA Whitewater Rescue Technician Advanced
Getting your knots right during the Rescue3 WRTA Whitewater Rescue Technician Advanced
Rescue3 WRTA Whitewater Rescue Technician Advanced
Boat on a highline during the Rescue3 WRTA Whitewater Rescue Technician Advanced
Rescue3 WRTA Whitewater Rescue Technician Advanced
Boat on a highline during the Rescue3 WRTA Whitewater Rescue Technician Advanced course.
Night training during the Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro
Night training during the Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro
Night search & rescue scenario during the Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro
Night search & rescue scenario during the Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro course.
Night search & rescue scenario during the Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro
Night search & rescue scenario during the Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro course.
Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro
Great weather for swimming training during the Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro course.
Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro
Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro
Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro
Rescue scenario of an injured paddler during Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro course.
Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro
Rescue3 WRT-PRO Whitewater Rescue Technician Pro

 

More photos of the Packraft Adventure Challenge Meet-up:

During the Packraft Adventure Challenge European Packrafring Meet-up
Happy first time packrafter!
During the Packraft Adventure Challenge European Packrafring Meet-up
Lunch break on the river bank
During the Packraft Adventure Challenge European Packrafring Meet-up
Packing, ready, go!

During the European Packrafting Meet-up Packraft Adventure Challenge at the SalzaAlpacka Caribou During the Packraft Adventure Challenge European Packrafring Meet-upAlpacka Gnu During the Packraft Adventure Challenge European Packrafring MeetupDuring the European Packrafting Meetup Packraft Adventure ChallengeDuring the European Packrafting Meetup Packraft Adventure ChallengeDuring the European Packrafting Meetup Packraft Adventure ChallengeDuring the European Packrafting Meetup Packraft Adventure Challenge

During the European Packrafting Meetup Packraft Adventure Challenge
Crystal clear Salza water

During the European Packrafting Meetup Packraft Adventure ChallengeDuring the European Packrafting Meet-up Packraft Adventure ChallengeDuring the European Packrafting Meet-up Packraft Adventure ChallengeDuring the European Packrafting Meet-up Packraft Adventure ChallengeDuring the European Packrafting Meet-up Packraft Adventure Challenge at the SalzaDuring the European Packrafting Meet-up Packraft Adventure Challenge at the Salza

During the European Packrafting Meet-up Packraft Adventure Challenge

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Soca adventures

We are packing for the upcoming European Packrafting Meetup at the Soca and memories from our first Soca trip come to mind. Back then, we had just become parents to our little daughter Maya and were looking for a family friendly road trip with good packrafting opportunities. Living in Austria, the Soca is only a stones throw away, so it was an easy choice.

We decided to arrive via the scenic high mountain road over the Vršič pass, a route that is worth taking (once) if you have time and don’t get carsick (there are 50 hairpin bends!). The views driving down are breathtaking and you drive right past the source of the Soca.

Packrafting adventure to Soca across Vrsic pass
View from the pass

We parked our van at the super friendly and beautiful Klin Lepena campground, which is conveniently located next to the upper most put in of the Soca. Further up stream the Soca runs within the National Park and kayaking and rafting is not allowed.

With little Maya only being 5 months old, Michaela planned to walk along the river, while I packed most of our gear in the packraft. We have since found that this is a great way to travel and works well also for extended expeditions.

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As usual, the packing took most of the morning, making sure we had river gear, safety gear, camping gear, food, first aid kit, nappies etc for 4-5 days of hiking and packrafting.

Little Maya playing with all the packrafting gear in our Alpacka Gnu packraft
Little helper

Weather was stunning and both the river and the trail were fantastic, so each of us had a blast while making our way downriver. Every now and then, we would meet up for little picnics and a dip, and to give Maya some playtime.

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Exploring rocks and moss

Our initial (and very ambitious) plan was to see if we could possibly packraft to Kobarid or Tolmin and then make it back hiking over Mount Krn. But after a few days of hiking and packrafting, we got to Kobarid where the river started to get a bit less pristine, the surroundings more urbanised, and also some weather with heavy rains came in. So we decided to change plans, relax for a day and then go for a 2 day hike to the 7 lakes high up in the Triglav National Park.

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Talking with local friends, we got recommended to stay at Kamp Korita (a super friendly and authentic campground, right next to one section of gorges along the Soca) and take the trail up from there. It was spectacular, and we didn’t meet a single person. Slovenians are very keen hikers, so this is quite rare! When getting to the first lakes we made camp for the night (at 1800m!).

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Happy little camper

Hiked past more lakes on the next day, with some snow still lingering and great views.

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Our loop took us down to Trento and from there we hiked back along the river to our starting point, which gave us a chance to also appreciate the section of the Soča that runs through the national park and can’t be rafted.

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On the upper part of the Soca

 

If you like high mountains, this is an awesome side trip and made us realize how much Slovenia has to offer. Such a great little country, we can’t wait for the Packrafting Meetup this weekend and meeting you there!

Seon on a last paddle on the Soca in his Alpacka Gnu Raft on the last day of our packrafting adventure
Soca with Triglav mountains in background