At the border, where the Italian Dolomites meet the valley of the river Po, where the mountains begin to rise, there is an emerald gem. Hidden from the eyes of the "normal" sightseeing tourist, with Monte Rosettum, shaded to the north and protected to the south by Monte Cavallo and Monte Cjastelât, lies a small lake with a small village on its shore: Lago di Barcis (Lake Barcis) is located in the mountain valley of the river Cellina.
This artificial reservoir was created in the mid-1950s for the use of hydroelectric power and has since been filled by the Cellina River, which gives the Lago di Barcis (Lake Barcis) its magical emerald-like colour. With a travel time of less than 40 minutes from Pordenone, the largest city in the West Friuli Venezia Giulia region, it is a surprise how little is known about this lake in the sup scene. We, too, have only recently become aware of this lake. Friends who live near the lake told us about this relatively hidden place and that we absolutely must visit this lake. Said done! We put our inflatables in the back part of the van, put our airprene clothes and dry suits (which became very useful to us, as you will read below) and headed for the lake.
The road to it:
The way to the Lago di Barcis (Lake Barcis) is picturesque. Before we reach Pordenone we can already see the mountains in the background. Your heart starts racing immediately when you notice that you soon leave the valley in exchange for the view to the mountains and you can already imagine what it must look like on the other side of the first mountain. After a short drive through the first tunnel, the river Cellina can be seen. The first view of the river and its magical emerald green colour. On the way to the lake we cross the river several times on a newly built road that makes the lake more accessible by car. Before the new road was built, the old road to the lake, which was carved into the steep mountain face several meters above the river, was much more difficult and strenuous, so that this road is now considered a tourist attraction but can only be visited with a local guide with special safety equipment.
After a few more tunnels and a few more curves, the valley finally opens up to a breathtaking view of the lake in all its emerald green beauty. Already at the entrance to the city, one notices that it is a mountain city with its typical architecture of steep roofs and unmistakable local stone facades.
We drove straight into the city centre and parked the car in a very accessible parking lot a few meters from the lake. We couldn't wait long enough to get on the water and explore the lake. So we pumped up our SUP's, put on our airprene clothes and UV shirts and went on the water. The weather was nice, but the water was quite cold, so the airprene clothes were very handy.
On the water:
At first we wanted to see the city from the water, so we made a few circles around the middle of the lake to try to get a good view of everything that surrounds us. After warming up a bit and inspecting the city from the water, we decided to go to the point where the river flows into the lake to see if we could get some steam to make some river SUP. We paddled for a third of the lake's length, paddled under a rather long bridge that connected the two sides of the lake and finally reached our destination. Fortunately we had a drone with us to document the scene as the view was quite fantastic. Simply paddling is not possible on the lake, because the landscape around Lake Barcis is simply worth seeing. Places like this, where two bodies of water (river and lake) meet, have always fascinated us very much. You can feel a special energy that is present in these places.
We were going to paddle upstream, but our friend Marco, who knows the river like the back of his hand, told us that the river had increased dramatically due to the recent heavy rains in the mountains and therefore he did not advise us to go there. You must know that these words come from a crazy kayaker who jumps from 10-meter-high waterfalls every weekend. So, if he advises you not to paddle to a river, you better believe him.
Since the SUP-Ping downstream was removed from the list, we decided to explore a small natural gorge on the other side of the lake, which is a must when paddling on the Lago di Barcis (Lake Barcis). So, we turned our boards around and paddled across the lake to find it, because this place is quite well hidden. From the lake shore the gorge is not immediately visible, because it is not so big to emerge immediately, and trees and branches cross the entrance and complicate the search. Finally, after following the southern shore of the lake, we find the beautiful natural gorge. In any case, another highlight of our trip that everyone who is travelling in the area with a SUP board or kayak must have seen.
The gorge was formed by thousands of years of heavy rainfall, all of which gathered in a stream that swells very much when it rains heavily in the mountains. It has up to 10 m steep walls on each side and a bridge that crosses the gorge at the top. When we were there, a small stream flowed into it.
Before we entered the gorge, we set up our drone, controlled by Marco, and let it go so that we could record the best possible material from the location. We were already a few meters into the canyon with the drone humming behind us and suddenly realized, the hard way, of course, that you couldn't let the drone fly in such confined spaces. The GPS signal disappeared, we heard a relatively quiet blow against the canyon wall, followed by a splash into the 10 degrees water and the 1,500 € expensive film equipment disappeared into 5 meters deep. A rather expensive mistake. Since the drone has insurance, our hope was that we would find the crashed drone, send it back to the manufacturer and get a new one for free. But that meant that we had to get into the water. And it was a long way down into a very murky and cold water.
SAVING PRIVATE MAVIC DJI
And this is how the rest of our adventure became a drone saving operation.
When we were racking our brains on how to get to the drone, Rok suddenly said calmly, "I'm going to get it". Rok Puvar was definitely the craziest guy in the crew. He crossed Lake Adriatic on a SUP board in winter and set the Guinness world record for the longest distance travelled in a 24-hour paddle without interruption. Rok probably would have jumped blindfolded into the ice-cold water to find the drone if we had had something to blindfold him.
He put on a SUP dry suit, paddled the board into the middle of the canyon and started diving to find the drone. He spent half an hour in this ice-cold water and tried to get the drone, which was 5 meters below the surface, unfortunately without success. He trembled, his lips were blue like blueberries and his face looked more and more helpless as he made the last dive. We didn't find the drone. We finished this mission and told ourselves that we would come back another time to try it again. We had to get the drone back, there was no way out. Not only the value of the drone played a role, but also because we knew we had taken great pictures with it. Rok was so exhausted because of the cold water that he slept all the way home on the back seat of the van. I felt with him. Also I was cold, because I was all the time with my feet in the water but for half an hour to dive in this cold water from the mountains... At least the dry suit did its job and kept it dry during this ordeal.
A few days after we got back home I get a video message about WhatsApp. Before I play the video I see at the beginning Marcos smiling face, his hair all wet, dressed in a dry suit, so that I knew immediately what was going on. Finally, I play the video and he shows the drone. Leaking water from all sides, with a broken wing, but at least the data on the memory card was safe and undamaged. He could get the drone out, because the water became much clearer and no more rain water flowed into the brook, so that he could see the drone already one meter under the surface. After 3 days of unsuccessful attempts, Marco was finally able to get the drone out of the water.
So, the data was saved, Marco got his new drone back within a week, and we were ready for the next adventure in our series.
As you can imagine, we were all more than happy with this ending. We came back from Barcis with great memories, great footage and great stories to tell our readers, listeners, friends and Family.
-Rok Puvar: our first and essential team rider
-Marco Babuin: our dear friend and the guy who made this day possible
- Fabio Del Bel Belluz: the guy who made this video what it is
Check out the Video for the first hidden paddling spot!