Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Not Such a Quiet Paddle on Embalse de Negratin.

   Actually, yesterday's paddle did start and finish quietly, but the bit in the middle wasn't what was expected.  The weather forecast for the area seemed reasonable - temperature not too high and just a bit of wind from the north-west, which should have made the north side of the reservoir, under the steep cliffs of the badlands, sheltered.  The plan was to cross the reservoir from Playa de Freila, delve into a couple of large inlets directly opposite the Playa and then pootle eastwards along the badlands shore to the next big inlet.  Explore that inlet and then cross back to the south side and head straight back to the start point and lunch - sounded simple!

   In the inlets there was a fresh breeze funneling down the ravines and gullies but it didn't spoil quiet paddling and, if anything. made it even more pleasant by keeping the temperature down.  So, all went well until  emerging from the shelter of the last big inlet and finding that the wind had chosen to ignore the forecasters!  It had backed round to the south-west, so it was blowing directly up the reservoir from the dam, and had freshened considerably.  The open water crossing now looked tricky with closely spaced waves and deep troughs in between, and some waves were breaking.  Running with the wind and waves was fine, but I didn't want to go that way, nosing into the waves was doable but wet, but I don't 'do' wet these days and in any case I didn't want to go that way either.  I wanted to cross more or less at right angles - which really didn't look so feasible.  The only option was to retrace my route, plugging away into the wind while hugging the shoreline, where there was a bit of shelter from that wind, in the hope that conditions at my original crossing point (which at least is one of the narrowest points of the reservoir) would be better - and my luck was in.  By the time I reached the shelter of a big inlet opposite Playa de Freila, and had a leg stretch walk ashore, the wind had abated and shifted and any thoughts of spending hours trapped on the wrong side the water quickly dissolved, and the crossing back to my lunch box was just fine.

Here is a collection of photos from yesterday's paddle along what is most probably the most rugged bit of the badlands of Embalse de Negratin :-

   Cliff falls are evidently common, as you can see by the pile of debris at the foot of the cliff in the above photograph.  Vertical cracks further along the cliff face show where the next great chunks might break away.

Ready to cross back to Playa de Freila - and lunch.
   Unless we get some really cool spells, there's unlikely to be any more paddling on Embalse de Negratin until the autumn.  To beat the heat it would be necessary to be on the water soon after sunrise and off and packed up again by mid-morning.  That would mean leaving home at some unearthly hour of the morning, middle of the night even!  Today the temperature at our home was well above 30°C in the shade by mid morning - and temperatures can be even worse further inland.  And it is going to get much hotter yet!