I may have forgotten to mention in previous posts that I am soon leaving the country in search of adventure, education, and whitewater. I assume that the first two will come easy and go hand in hand with eachother. It is the third that concerns and has me the most excited. I plan to arrive in Pucon, Chile on the 22nd of October and possibly start paddling the same or next day. This may sound like a romanticized beginning to my trip, but I have been led to believe by all those I have talked to that this is not only possible but very probable. My concern, as stated before, is that with this kind of opportunity I might forget about my plans to attend a language school for a few weeks. No big deal though, right? That's what I was thinking. I'll just go to school wwhen the paddling isn't great.
Though I assume anybody who is reading this already knew about my trip, I will let you know about some more details. I depart SFO at 1:30 AM on the 19th then stop at nearly every major city on the way to my destination of Santiago, Chile. I should arrive there at 2:30 AM. Short trip, eh? I have some short layovers in San Salvador, El Salvador; San Jose, Costa Rica; Bogota, Colombia; Lima, Peru. I switch flights in San Jose and Bogota, which promises to be more exciting and stressful than I am anticipating. After the long flight I will be staying in a hostel in Santiago for a couple nights then heading by bus to Pucon where I hope to be met by a kayak and friendly waterfalls.
Unfortunately one of the above waterfalls was claimed by a tragic but undeniably awesome act of nature. Truly a phenomenon that three waterfalls dropping 15', 35', then 50' could turn into this. The event must have been amazing.
Chile photos from www.kayakpucon.net
You can see the scouting ledge in the top two photos where people are standing in the third when the falls was still there. I am not sure if what remains is runnable, but it is truly a shame that three incredibly beautiful waterfalls are lost. This is especially true because they are on Pucon's local run, being only about 20 minutes outside of town. I am sure there is still plenty of good whitewater to be explored in the area though, so I will not miss out.
Beyond my plans for language school and meeting people in Pucon I have no set agenda. Being flexible and willing to leave at a moments notice or wait around and run the same things will be key to finding paddling partners. I hope to meet more people doing what I am doing and willing to hit the road or trail to get the goods.
I also may have forgotten to mention in previous posts the reason I am not bringing a boat with me. Aside from the fact that I don't think there is anything more troublesome to travel with than a kayak, I do not have a functional, willing to travel boat. I guess this note should be in the heart of a previous post about the trip to BC, but it will do fine here.
Small talk aside, I lost my boat as result of a scary, albeit short swim on the Ashlu. I do not have a picture of the place I swam and an accurate description is more than I want to attempt right now. The main components of the feature that I swam out of were fast moving water and an undercut rock outcropping nearly perpendicular to the swift current. I hung out for a while then after I had been underwater for an uncomfortable amount of time I pulled and swam for the surface. I reached it once, then after a little wrestling with my boat I went deep against the wall and resurfaced near the only eddy between the outcropping and two more ugly drops. I'll spare a description of the next two rapids, but believe me when I say that I am VERY, VERY glad to have gotten into that eddy.
My boat however, was not so lucky. It continued through(?) the next two rapids and into commitment canyon, which offers no escape except downstream. Humbled, we did a recon mission into the gorge but found only a piece of foam from my boat and my paddle, for which I was very thankful. I believe that my boat has yet to surface and may never be seen again.