Ara (Broto to Fiscal)
|Stretch:||Broto to Fiscal|
|Difficulty:||Class II then III|
|Flows:||No gauge. 1,000 to ??,000 cfs|
|Gradient:||52 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Access in Broto|
|Take-out:||Access in Fiscal|
|Shuttle:||14.5 km, 15 minutes one way|
|Season:||Winter/Spring from snowmelt and rain|
Pyrenees 2018 - Day 9:
At this point in the trip, we already knew that the classic sections of the Ara were going to be too high. We still had a small amount of hope though. So, this morning, our plan was to drive up and check out the class IV rafting section which had a gauge on it. We had enough hope that Harry asked us to call him if we found favorable water for the upper sections. But not enough hope that he actually came with us to check. Upon finding the gauge and finding a full meter too much water for even the normal flows for the rafting run, it was clear the upper sections were too high. Quickly, Reiner backed out of any interest in boating too, I think he was only actually hoping we would find low enough water for the upper sections. Diane and I decided that just solo, the rafting section was super short, so instead we decided to site see up the tributary Rio Arazas as well as up the Ara to look at the classic sections before heading downriver to boat the section in the valley that would be low stress as it was to be class III to IV and could take all the water the river could give it.
The site seeing was very worth it. Both of these canyons are among the prettiest places we visited on the trip. Currently, pictures from that site seeing are currently on my work computer's desktop as well as my phone background. Additionally, I have since told a friend who is heading that way for a vacation soon that they too should go drive to that area, and they aren't even boaters. The classic sections of the Ara, although roadside are still amazingly pretty, wedged in a granite canyon. The Arazas is also spectacular, though from a boating perspective illegal.
Once downriver and ready to boat, we put on and quickly made our way downriver. The river was class II for the first several kms until we passed the Rio Forcas. Once there, the river picked up steam to be class III. I wouldn't say any passages were class IV though. But the scenery was nice, with the mountains behind you and the wonderful canyon scenery in front of you. The day was warm, the sky was blue, but the rain was coming our way.
Since it was just Diane and I, our plan was to hitch shuttle. This was going to be the third day in a row. The first day on the Esera took maybe 30 minutes. The Cinca took 8 cars and only maybe 10 minutes. This time, we waited there for an hour. It was hot... I took my shirt off, but then draped it on my shoulders as I was getting sunburned. But, over about 10 minutes the temp dropped by 20 degrees F. Then, it began sprinkling. That was short lived though... because then it started pooring. No one stopping. I grabbed money out and Diane ran up to the café to beg people for a ride, and even bribe them for a ride. No takers. We were contemplating stashing our boats and going to the café ourselves when desperately Diane, now soaking, ran out into traffic with her thumb out and a car stopped. But, they were going to turn and wouldn't give us a ride. We began to stash our gear. Then another car and another desperate run into traffic from Diane. This time, a couple from Belgium stopped, and despite planning on turning, gave Diane a ride. I stayed behind in the rain and tried pacing around to stay warm in the pelting rain that had by now begun to flood the street. Then, lightening. Then lightening struck about 200 yards from me. I decided pacing along the street was not a great plan and sat on the ground near our gear. I soon began to get cold and was shaking. Then a cop drove by, a moment later u-turning to inquire why I was on the side of the road. Luckily their English was solid and they were happy that 1) I wasn't crazy and 2) everyone was safe. Warmth they did not offer though and they soon drove off. Finally, after about 2 hrs since we arrived there on the side of the road, Diane returned with the car. We packed up, and drove to where we had discussed meeting Reiner and Harry. They were waiting for us, having been there about an hour. We quickly decided to continue driving up the pass to France.
That night, we ended up pulling into a closed ski resort. Since it was still raining, this was welcome as we were able to cook and sit around under the overhang. The rain subsided and we hung out and walked around the resort. A few hours later though, a car stopped and took a pic of us, signaling the party would soon end. And sure enough, a little bit later, security showed up and kicked us out, not caring about the kids sleeping. Luckily, we were able to move the cars just a few hundred feet, just outside the exit to a turnout on the road that was ok. We moved the cars, ate a little more chocolate, and went to bed.
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Next: Pyrenees 2018 - Day 10: Gave du Brousset (Classic Section)
- Boogie (II+ to III-). From town, a few fun wave trains greet you before...
- Boogie (II-). The rapids step down into class II- affairs for a good long while. At high flow this section at least moved along well enough.
- Forest (III+). There was a split in the river. The left channel was small and sorta forested, for whatever reason I decided to go in. I think I got lucky, as I did not realize this would be 200 meters long and class III- within. Wood would have been disastrous.
- Confluence with the Forcas (III-). The confluence with the major trinitary marks the start of the good rapids on the run. The rapids below here are mostly class III- to III with maybe one exception.
- Down the Right (III+). A nice fluffy rapid that we ran down the right channel. There was some hole dodging to be had for sure. But it was good fun.
Boogie. The boogie is more class III than not which is nice, after the long paddle in.
Take-out: So we just walked up at the first bridge in Fiscal, this put us kinda just on the highway. Looking at the map now, there is a park "parquet infantile de Fiscal Rio Ara" on the opposite side of the river from N-260. On the southern side of Fiscal, take Av Jesus to cross the river and then park on the left at the park. Fiscal is ~27 km from Ainsa.
Put-in: Continue up N-260, stay right at the roundabout to continue 14.5 km to Broto. On the south side of town there was a parking lot. We parked here and walked through town to access the river.
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