Everybody Swims in Chile

I think the title says it all, but the 23rd of December was an exciting day of paddling. Well, swimming too.
Okay, here's the story...Gerd, Juanjo, and I returned to Pucon from our trip north very early Friday morning. We were all pretty tired, but with a little arm twisting and dancing in the car, Juanjo convinced us to stop at Mamas & Tapas, the local bar, for a beer or two. Of course, it turned into a beer or four, but the point is that we got to sleep at an unholy hour. It might have been getting light out. We awoke much too soon to the sound of rain beating the metal roof, and news that it had been raining quite a bit the whole time we were gone. Immediately, there was one thing on my mind: Rio Turbio. I had run the Turbio once before with a fun, but fairly low flow, so was very excited to hear that there had been much rain and that it was still raining. Gerd and I rallied and were on our way by noon(yes, it felt early). The Turbio is only about 10 minutes from Pucon, so we got to the bridge right away and were astonished to see the torrent of chocolate water racing underneath. With our excitement doubled, we sped up to the parking area and began the 2 or 3 km walk to the put-in. Even in the rain and wind, we were sweaty with anticipation to see the falls above the put-in.
When the falls came into view, we let out a collective yell of excitement and quickened our pace. We got to the bottom and it looked great, then scouted from the top and it looked even better. The curious youngsters that we are, we continued further upstream to see what we could find. Two more falls and a fun slide awaited us, so we made our way to the top of the first falls and got ready to run.
We both had successful, if a little exciting, runs on the first chunky triple drop, then ran down to the next ledge, quickly ran it, then got out to scout the big one.

Recovering from the excitement offered by the first falls. You can almost see the line we took. It was a boof in the middle, then another boof just out of site into a rocky hole with a really rocky run-out.

Our boats looking small from the lip of the put-in falls. You can see the scale of this drop as a whole in this photo. Big rapid.

We had been walking a lot and standing around looking at rapids for long enough, so I was fired up and ready to run this thing. I asked Gerd to set safety and try to take a picture or two at the cave drop in the rapid below the falls. I jumped around and ran some laps around my boat while I waited for him to get set up, then gave him the signal that I was ready.
I took one last look at the rapid, then walked slowly back to my boat. I knew I was going to have to hit every move and make every stroke with great efficiency if I was going to clean this rapid. I splashed some water in my face and peeled out of the eddy and into the fast current above the drop. I made my boof in exactly the spot I wanted, landed just where I wanted to in the boil, where it would slow me down enough to take a stroke before the next drop, then before I knew it I was screaming down the big slide towards the final ledge. 'Boof, boof in the middle' was all I was thinking when I got pushed a little too far left to really say that I was in the middle.
Boof, I did. Clear the menacing hole at the bottom of the ledge, I did not. My paddle was immediately ripped from one hand, but I managed to pull myself up for a breath. I windowshaded again, and this time the hole wanted everything from me. Now with no paddle, I could not get upright in the hole. I spent a few seconds thrashing around doing my best to pull myself out of the hole but felt that there was no way I was coming out of this hole in my boat. I pulled my skirt and was immediately ripped out of my boat to the bottom of the hole where I did some lightning fast body-cartwheels. I still didn't really feel like I was making any downstream progress, so I balled up and quickly flushed out of the hole and conviniently onto a log where I could climb out of the water. The rumors are true! Balling up works for hole escape!

Anyway, I came over the lip a little too fast for any photos, but I snapped a few of Gerd. He is an amazing paddler with a slalom background and made the rapid look easy.

About to boof the top falls.

Just below the falls, in the beginning of the rapid.

Boofing a big hole in the rapid.

Big one, eh? The slide is just out of the bottom of the frame.

Gerd about to enter the big slide.

In the big slide.

Late-comer Florian flying down the slide.

About the boof the ledge that ate me.

ps. the car died again and we had to get towed back to town again.