A few weeks ago a friend of mine invited me to join him on a Kayaking introduction course. He was one of the organizers of this event taking place at a regional park near the Slovenian town of Idrija.
The place is called Idrijska Bela and it has been a popular local summer getaway destination for ages. A narrow road from the town of Idrija follows the Idrijca river upstream to the point where a stream called Belca joins it.
On your way to this public natural swimming spot where you also pass by the interesting Divje jezero. This "Wild lake" (as it translates into English) is remarkably deep. Actually the depths of this lake still remain undiscovered.
The lake is also the source of the shortest river in Slovenia (only 55 meters or 180 ft long).
The Kayaking event was a part of series of sports events taking place in this beautiful setting almost every summer weekend. As such it was also free of charge.
When we heard about this M. and I were both very excited about it as it was going to be our first kayaking experience.
We expected to see a serious crowd trying to seize this opportunity but it was not so bad. Actually there were quite a few spaces left for random passers-by. This kayaking preschool as organizers called it, was divided into a few rounds - each taking one hour.
The part of Idrijca river where the event took place is dammed, so the water was pretty calm. This meant instructors could come up with different games to make things interesting. At the same time each of those games included various exercises aimed to help us develop a better feel for our kayaks.
We both did quite well but at the same time we also began to understand how much effort we would have to invest before being able to tackle some serious rapids. Some things were quite hard to do even on still water. We could only imagine how it would feel on some white water rapids.
At the end of our course we also got to try an Eskimo roll. This is the act of righting a capsized kayak by use of body motion and/or a paddle.
It does not just look hard - it actually is. I guess I do not have to point out no one of us succeeded without at least a little bit of help from our trusty instructor.
Fortunately the Eskimo roll is not the only way of freeing yourself from a capsized kayak. You can also simply swim out of it and drag your kayak to the shore. By doing this it gets filled with water. Emptying it usually requires quite a bit of effort.
Some of us had the privilege of trying it a couple of times.
All in all it was another great day spent in the beautiful nature. We were really glad we took part in the event and got a taste of kayaking. We actually liked it so much, we are thinking of trying it in a little bit more serious environment.
Luckily in Slovenia one can find some of the best rivers for this sport. The only problem is, I would never dare to attempt it without some professional guidance...