By Konstantin Gridnevskiy
This summer after my return from Sweden, Marta and I went away for a couple of days and stayed in the neighborhood of the Drawa National park (as we actually needed a license to packraft in the Drawa National Park). During the stay, we managed to go paddling twice – once on a lake (this video) and another time on the Drawa river itself. It was a warm windless evening, with a glorious sunset. Usually, I am not so fond of lakes, but this time it was definitely an exception.
There was a pedestrian bridge at the narrowest point of the lake. I remember that the first time we came to the national part two years ago, we went for a day hike and crossed the water over it. This time we were on the water and went under it. I love it when packrafting helps to change the perspectives like that.
The next day after paddling on the lake in Drawa National park, we paddled a part of the river itself. We started at the point where I finished a two-day paddling trip last year. The Drawa is a plain river, but according to many, it has some qualities of a mountain river.
The weather was just great for a lazy paddle – it was warm, sunny and almost without any wind.
The area is rather secluded. There are not a lot of villages around it and you are mostly surrounded by forests. The downside of it is that there is no mobile reception for most of the parts we took, which caused some problems for us.
The Drawa river is not very broad and is surrounded by trees, which overhanging branches often make you feel like you paddle through a tunnel.
As I mentioned before, the river is considered to have some characteristics of a mountain river. I am not sure what they are, but there are hardly any rapids on it at all (I have seen one or two places which would be class 0 if it exists 😉 ). Instead, the fun comes from navigating through and negotiating the fallen trees which often block your way. And while on the territory of the national park they clear narrow passages, outside it, you often have to find a way out yourself.
To get back to the place we were staying overnight we made an appointment with a local guy, who rents out kayaks, to bring us back. We set the place and time, but due to a later start that morning, we were not able to make it there on time. Usually, this is sorted out simply by picking up your phone and calling the guy. But in this case, it was not possible to do it – we were in the middle of a forest with no coverage. What were we to do? Well, besides checking the phones every couple of minutes, we tried to come up with a creative solution. While paddling, we saw a landing and a sign staying that there was a guest house only some 500 meters away. “If there is a guest house, they must have a land line” we thought. The only road to our pickup place was also passing next to it. So, we took our rafts out and went to see if we could contact the guy.
It was a sort distance to walk and we were not certain if we would eventually get any help there, that’s why we decided not to deflate the boats and just carried them with us.
When we got to the road, Marta went to see if she could make that phone call and I stayed there ‘just in case’ drying our packrafts. To do that I put them on a pair of wooden planks that were next to the road. I am not completely sure what their original function is, but as packraft drying-rack they worked just fine.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) we had no luck there. The guest house was closed and the forester was nowhere to be found. Next to the house Marta saw two cyclists who had been waiting for him for a while and who eventually decided to leave as well. I didn’t have any luck waiting at the roadside either. Neither our guy passed nor were there any other cars – no chance to get a lift. So, we decided to get back on the water hoping that we would eventually get some signal.
It was a very pleasant day and we really regretted that we had to be in a hurry. If not for that appointment and that we had to go back home the same evening, we would have loved to paddle further and enjoy that day to the fullest.
Eventually going further by boat paid off – we got near a village where there was a signal and contacted our guy. It turned out that he already went back home, which meant that it was good that we hadn’t stay waiting at the guesthouse.
After we communicated our location to our pick-up guy, it was just a short walk through the forest to the road, where barely had enough time to pack ourselves, before he arrived. This was the end of another micro-adventure.