New Crew, New Truck, Same Great Chilaen Adventure
All Chile trips rely on two key ingredients a vehicle and a crew. A lame vehicle will leave you out of pocket and off the river. A bad crew will leave you unhappy and potentially put you and them into some dangerous situations.
A month ago I was with Black City Car Crew, but as with all trips these guys had to start heading home, meaning I needed a new crew and a new ride. Luckily for me two friends I had worked and paddled with last year in Austria had just arrived in Chile and they were traveling with two others. And they had a rental pick-up truck. My luck was looking up, they had space for one more. Just.
The crew consited of Andrew ‘Pundy’ Niven, (GBR), ‘Wee’ Joe Taylor (GBR), Marco ‘The Austrian’ and Joe ‘Wookie’ Thurgate (GBR). The boys picked me up and we headed straight for our first river. The Puesco. The boys informed me they had done a few laps of the upper Palguin earlier that day. I had paddled the Puesco a few days earlier with mixed crew from Spain and Chile. The river was steep and continuous fun but even with the low water which we have here in Chile right now it was still pretty committing and this lead to three of the crew having to hike out with no paddles. I was hoping for considerably less carnage this time on the river.
For lunch we eat bread, tomatoes and Avocados. The quantity of Avocados we eat quickly earns this crew the name the Avacado Crew.
The Puesco did not fail to deliver fun moves, slides, boof and eddy hopping without a break from put in to takeout. But it did deliver some carnage as well. Not as bad as previously but we did still have two swimmers, luckily no lost boats or paddles this time!
Given the low water levels we decided to head south the next day in search of better water levels and some different runs. The first thing we did was fix a ferry ticket from Peurto Monte to Chaiten. After my last failed Futa mission I was pretty keen to get this sorted before we left Pucon. A few hours and some Chilean Pesos later we had a confirmed ferry in 7 days. We loaded up the truck and headed out to our first stop. The Rio Fuy.
Wild camping is the norm for the Avocado crew, every night we find a new spot. Gather wood, prepare and cook dinner in one pot on our trusty Grill. Wash up with water from a nearby lake, river or stream. I sleep like a king in a small tent which I have kindly been lent. But the others are sleeping in Bivvy bags under the stars. Their quality of sleep varies from average to poor depending on the temperature.
Morning comes the day before we paddle the Fuy and the night brings heavy rain. As I hear it pounding down on my tent I also hear the Car door open and close four times as the boys one by one make their way into somewhere dry. All of our kit is soaked. Motivation is at an all time low, putting on our kayaking gear is all we can do be dry. The river is fantastic, high water waves and waterfalls the Rio Fuy really has it all. But it had its fair share of carnage too, with three of our five taking a swim at the same spot, almost one after another.
Once Pundy and I have cleared up the carnage and recovered all the stuff we get off the river and head to a hostel in a near by town. The next day dawns with beautiful sunrise and dry kit, dry clothes, dry sleeping bags, dry tents and a happy Avocado Crew.
We Camp another night at the put in on one of my favorite campsites so far. Nicknamed the Hole it is a small abandoned quarry which dips down beside the road. The night is clear and the stars look like something out of a film. So bright and vivid. South America seems to boast an impressive quantity of stars as well as fantastic quality.
Another quick run in the morning and then we are headed to a park and huck the Salto de NIlaque. We arrive just before Lunch and do some scouting. It takes me about three minutes to figure out that this is a 60fter that I definitely want to run and another three minutes to scout and visualise the seal launch, entry and the point I am going to tuck. Then one last scout of the pool to make sure there is no hazards down ther. I go back to the truck and eat lunch while the others continue scouting.
Thirty five minutes later the others come and eat lunch. Everyone seems pretty much in the same posistion. On the Fence. Except for Marco who is happy just setting up the camera at the bottom. I express my intention to run it and we discuss safety, get changed and then make our way to our different spots. The drop itself is a no brainer. Seal launch out paddle into the middle of the flow, stay straight on the ramp which is the first half of the drop and then tuck up for the last half of freefall. Once I style the line I run back up to the top to help Pundy Seal launch in. His line is sweet but a broken paddle leads to him swimming. Wookie Joe ensures a quick clean up and wee Joe comes up to fire it off. He too has an excellent line but swims. Lastly Wookie Joe comes up and fires it off, and makes it look good. We camp there at the waterfall before heading off for the ferry the next day.
Stay tuned for more Avacodo crew updates. Coming in the next week (ish)
Photos by Pundy, Marco, Todd Wells and Myself.
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