Paddling under water: Where only the strong survive

in Pinmapple3 months ago (edited)

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We are in Poland, a country near and far away at the same time. What adventures are waiting there? After our tour on the Krutynia, the most beautiful paddling river in Europe, we're paddling the Drawa river in Poland, one of the unknown paddling waters of Europe. It's a new kind of adventure we're stumbling in...

The river narrows.
The river narrows.

It doesn't get much more beautiful than this. The little river lies whispering in the sunlight, the canoes glide along, the reeds sway in a breeze. Not too hot and not too cold, so off we go into the adventure, up the Drawa, in contrast to the Krutynia, which flows a few hundred kilometers to the east through the Masuria, a Polish paddling water as close as it is unknown. After a large lake, on whose shores we spent the night, the river turns left.

You have to go under the tree
You have to go under the tree

The beginning of the national park

There are extensive stands of marsh plants here, and we hope a little that the thief who looted our beer supplies in front of the tents last night, stole a stove, and forgot to take the gas cartridges with him, has sunk here somewhere. On the right hand side there are big signs in Polish, German and English indicating the beginning of the national park.

You have to go over the tree
You have to go over the tree

But before that you have to pay national park fees. The website of the national park contains all the essential rules of conduct and also the respective amount of the fees.

Your choice: Under the treeß Or trying to get over it?
Your choice: Under the treeß Or trying to get over it?

At some point, the Drawa became too popular for the Poles. The number of paddlers increased dramatically, and people say that there was hardly any room left on the river. Since 2011, the number of boats allowed to enter the national park at the same time has been strictly regulated. Currently, a maximum of 700 paddlers per day are allowed on the entire national park section.

Our boat behind a tree
Our boat behind a tree

If you are late, life punishes you: You're not allowed in and has to wait until something becomes free the next day. The only way to avoid this is to book in advance and pay the ticket price in advance.

We’re going under one tree
We're going under one tree

We're the only ones

We are lucky, except for us there is no one this day. Right next to a camping site the national park begins. Landing on the shores is no longer allowed, but the surroundings are really jungle-like. A railroad bridge, which has not been used for decades, marks the beginning of the most beautiful section of the route - but we will soon find out what is really hidden in front of us. Painfully.

Caution!
Caution!

Because in the deep valley where the Drawa now flows, the current accelerates extremely. It becomes wild on the water. It will stay like this for 45 kilometers - for two to three days we will pass through what seems to be a beautiful wild wooded valley with often steep banks, alder breaks, high beech forest, many fallen trees and crystal clear water.

At the beginning it seems like a paradise
At the beginning it seems like a paradise

This turns out to be white water after a few hundred meters. Actually, no problem, but here there are also fallen trees that span the entire course of the river in places. In the beginning it is enough to aim at the deepest part and paddle with all your might. In the best case the boat then slides almost smoothly over it. In the worse case, at least one person has to get out of the boat to reduce the weight and the diving depth. And in the very worst case, the very very worst happens.

After our accident.
After our accident.

Missing the point

We just hit a flat spot above a tree again at top speed at this fearful moment to slide over it. But we miss this one point. Immediately the boat turns on the fast current across the stream. It pushes against the thick trunk in the water. And it pushes the person in front under a protruding branch.

This is what wandering in water really means
This is what wandering in water really means

Slowly, very slowly, the canoe gets sideways. It takes on water. Out, just out. The water is not deep enough to drown, at best up to the waist. Without the weight of the occupants, the boat would tip over immediately. All the provisions and equipment inside are gone. In the water. Which carries everything away quickly. Catastrophe.

View from the shore
View from the shore

Thousands of Polish paddlers, who know the area, enjoy a challenging but doable tour of natural beauty and adventure. But they are also traveling with light plastic rental boats.

We have big, heavy canoes, and that turns out to be a real problem. True, we recovered most of our stuff further downstream. But there the tree blockades are becoming more frequent. Every ten meters there is one from bank to bank, every third one can no longer be crossed.

A really cool Mantis
A really cool Mantis

Out of the boat

The only thing that helps is to get out of the boat, finally it is even called towing: Wading up to our hips in the water, we push our canoe flotilla from obstacle to obstacle. It is getting cold, although it is warm. It is wet, it is uncomfortable and the steep banks prevent us from taking a break at least once.

The last few meters on the lake are great
The last few meters on the lake are great

The only thing that helps here is to keep going, keep going. For hours we are forced to walk on the water. The gradient is high, the current rapid, the bottom stony. Later we learn that paddlers are advised not to go down this section with children on board. This should be known beforehand.

The first meters in the canyon aren’t that nice
The first meters in the canyon aren't that nice

We fight. For hours. At the end of our strength. One bend of the river after the other we push forward. Laboriously. The fallen trees are a nuisance, because only the older obstacles are cut free a little. Everything recent lies there as nature threw it down. Our speed is maybe one kilometer per hour. And we don't know where we still have to go.

Need a beer
Need a beer

Only the strong survive

In the strong current we have to overcome the tree obstacles standing, lifting, pushing and shoving. But there is no turning back. The current often pushes the boat against the trees as we negotiate the obstacles, and we ourselves have difficulty staying on our feet through the water pull.

Happily rescued in camp
Happily rescued in camp

Finally, after endless hours, the valley widens a little, the marshes on the shore have disappeared, and a stairway appears, 60 or 70 meters steeply upwards. The rescue. With difficulty we moor, and with even more difficulty we heave the canoes and the equipment up the steep slope. With our last strength we manage to light a fire. And with the very last to open a few of the remaining beer cans. We survived, the entire obstacle park. Like the Pope!

Thank you for reading and if you like my work please follow me          on HiveTravelfeed or Steem or visit my homepage koenau.de

A few more pictures for you:

The guitar isn’t a real freind of water as you see
The guitar isn't a real freind of water as you see

A lot of things to drying
A lot of things to drying

A lot of
A lot of

The fire helps us to dry the sleeping bags
The fire helps us to dry the sleeping bags

We need more fire
We need more fire

But the Drawa looks very niced
But the Drawa looks very niced 

And sometimes she doesn’t
And sometimes she doesn't


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Sorry to hear that you the boat hits by the wood ,bit I know you are safe and you enjoyed a lot.😊
Nice captured😍

Hiya, @choogirl here, just swinging by to let you know that this post made it into our Top 3 in Daily Travel Digest #1703.

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A very interesting adventure in addition to the beauty of the surrounding nature

That's a beautiful photo once

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All images belong to galenkp

Congratulations @koenau! You received the biggest smile and some love from TravelFeed! Keep up the amazing blog. 😍 Your post was also chosen as top pick of the day and is now featured on the TravelFeed.io front page.

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