Welcome to Chile
It took almost 48 hours of traveling before I arrived at my destination of Pucon, Chile. I started off with a flight from London to Sao Paulo. Then after a grueling 15 hour wait in the airport there I flew on to Santiago. The short 4 hours flight arrived at 2am. Although this meant I would have to wait around three hours in the airport before I could make my way to the bus terminal I was buoyed up by the fact that my boat and bag had made it to Santiago without any hassle. Next up I made the first bus to Pucon, which added another 11 hours of traveling time to my journey. Once I arrived in Pucon my destination was Pucon Kayak Hostal. After asking for directions and eventually deciding that I had been lead to the wrong place I found a place to stop for internet and figured out how to complete the last part of the journey.
A good meal and a good nights sleep later and it was time to hit the river. I joined some friends who I had worked with this summer in Canada plus some new friends and head headed to the Rio Nevados. Although the water level was lower than ideal this was still a fun low volume creek with some narrow, fun drops and a big slide. We took out just above the 50ft-er called “Demshitz” drop, I’m sure I will come back to it another day.
From there we headed back for a spot of lunch then set off for the Upper Palguin. This run is super fun, slightly higher volume than the Nevados with a bunch of fun drops along its length. We made two portages and headed all the way down to our take out right above the Middle Palguin 70ft-er. Again scouting took place but we decided it was something to come back for.
Chile is usually cold and rainy at this time of year, and this year is no exception. It has been cold from the moment I got off the plane. The next day was even colder and rainier but I saddled up for another round on the Nevados. Once again more scouting of “Demshitz” but once again left to another day.
The day that followed was the coldest and wettest so far. And honestly I thought about going back to bed. But we managed to rally a crew together and headed back to the Palguin. This time we got to the middle and Blair Trotman (NZL) and myself decided that today was the day.
A tense game of rock, paper, scissors decided that I would be going first. I have imagined myself above this drop so many times in the years gone by, it felt great to finally get it done. I seal launched off, made my turn. Took my forward strokes one, two, three. Holding the last stroke vertical as I rode off the lip, staring down as tried to spot my landing. Throwing my paddle high into the air and then tucking tight into my boat and holding on to the cockpit rim. The landing was soft and I hand rolled up no problems.
Blair had a sweet line too, but unfortunately deck implosion caused him to swim. After a quick chase of his boat and paddles we managed to recover everything with minimal fuss and made our way to the take out.
So all in all Chile is going pretty well right now. I am so happy to be wearing my Kokatat Gore-tex Meridian Drysuit as being warm and dry on the river is a huge bonus. Right now we are hatching a plan to head to the Rio Futalefeu in southern Chile, so we will see how that goes.
Until next time.......
(Pictures Erik Shore and Sara-Jane Daub)
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