A sustainable love story with river Loire…

4867676879_1c16422470_b

The 3.60 meters long inflatable boat by Inter (Made in China)

In August 2018, before embarking for a sixth descent by inflatable boat on the Loire, here is a brief summary of my relationship with this savage and fascinating river.

My first encounter with this majestic river occured at sixteen and a half. I paddled from Orléans to Saint-Nazaire (the mouth, on the sea), 350 kilometers, alone on my dad’s folding kayak. It was in July 1953 …

These three weeks were my inaugural experience of the solitary trip …

Since then, I have returned, often, sometimes on improbable rafts. Thus, end to end, I traveled the entire length of the river, from the Puy-en-Velay to the sea, in Saint-Nazaire. About a thousand kilometers.

37418606042_d5c0e5dac3_k

My first raft, in April 1955, made of US GI’s lifebelts. Kodachrome film.

In 2010, I returned to this old habit by equipping an inflatable boat of three meters sixty, capable of carrying a heavy load, i.e. all the equipment necessary to navigate several days in total autonomy (water, provisions, sleeping). To protect myself from both the sun and the rain, I made a wooden frame supporting a light tarpaulin. Thus configured, moored to a shore or anchored in the current, I can stay permanently in the boat: sleeping there, cooking or … napping.

*

La Loire en aval de Riou Rév 2018 Blog

The Loire, a savage river …

In June and July 2010, in two stages of five days, I traveled more than two hundred kilometers from Roanne to Cosne-sur-Loire. I then realized that this boat, with some improvments, was an excellent choice, both comfortable and safe.

Loire 5 26 juin 2010 11H Rév 2018

26th of July 2010. Selfie with Canon’s remote control.

Initially, everything seems simple: settle comfortably and let drift over the water … In fact, the Loire in 2010, after the heavy rains of the first weeks of July was high, almost in flood. With a current often exceeding 5 km per hour, the vigilance must be permanent because the current inevitably pushes towards the banks where the branches of trees risk damaging the wooden structure (which happened, tearing the frame and the tarpaulin brutally).

I left again in July 2014. After embarking food and equipment and launched from Nevers for a new course of five days and five nights.

17 juillet. Echouage sur gravière Rev 2018 Blog

17th of July 2014. The boat received some improvements.

With high waters, some passages become difficult to negotiate, such as the passage of bridges, where the strangulation of the river produces rapids that can be dangerous. On the route, two nuclear power plants were also a problem because their water reservoirs block the river across its entire width. It is therefore necessary, in principle, carry out a « portage », that is to say, stop on a wharf upstream of the obstacle and transport the boat and all equipment downstream, which imposes a large expenditure of energy because the boat and its equipment are approaching 100 kilos!

30663961880_d3c29396e9_k

The Belleville’s nuclear plant and it dam …

I had no other choice, especially at the Belleville nuclear plant, than to jump the dam ! With more than a meter high with a strong wave of reminder on arrival, it was risky ! But  boat and man survived!

*

These intense and risky moments are brief and spaced. The rest is only calm, tranquility, silence, immersion in a still very wild nature. An intense pleasure made of odors, colors, rustling, bird flying …

Yes, as the poet Charles Baudelaire sings, « There, everything is order and beauty, luxury, calm and voluptuousness » …

The trip had ended in Châteauneuf-sur-Loire, 160 km from the starting point.

I returned again in July 2015 on the river to redo the portion Nevers Orleans, perhaps the most beautiful of all …

Loire 2015. En amont de Chateauneuf rév 2018 Blog

July 2015. Anchored downstream of Chateauneuf sur Loire.

 

*

During year 2018, occurred the fifth and the sixth solitary raftings …

IMG_8953

The perfect quietness of the Loire at dawn …

To be pursued …

*

IMG_9308

June 2018. Selfie in the sun.

View on Flickr a comprehensive set of photos taken during the past trips :

https://www.flickr.com/gp/jean-paul-margnac/wi7j07

 

Laisser un commentaire

Entrez vos coordonnées ci-dessous ou cliquez sur une icône pour vous connecter:

Logo WordPress.com

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte WordPress.com. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Google+

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Google+. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Image Twitter

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Twitter. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Facebook

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Facebook. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Connexion à %s