Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chile de Nuevo

A spring mission to California, an epic in Alaska, more good times in the Gorge, another 6 months in Chile, a whirlwind visit to Thailand, a summer at Riversport, great times with the family, a coast-to-coast road trip with my lady...I would love to sit down and write a detailed report about everything that has happened since my last blog post nearly two years ago, but that's not going to happen right now.

Grand Canyon with Cami

My present moment - Santiago, Chile. January 24th, 2012. CNN (English) is on the tele, and Obama is about to give his State of the Union Address. It's 10pm here and city lights have just replaced the last hint of daylight. I thought for a second that I should give my State of the Stouting Address, but I don't really feel I have the authority to do so. I do think it is funny to note that in just a few years, kayakers have gone from "running the shit" to "stouting" to "laying treats" to "running the brown," and now everone is "winning," like cracked out Charlie Sheen. By the way, my favorite Charlie Sheen quote - "I'm a rockstar from MARS!"

I am reluctant to jump on the "winning" bandwagon, but I have to say it is great to see so many people making a fun lifestyle their priority, and I have yet to see any kayakers losing down here in Chile.

Salto Palguin

After a month of no kayaking, I flew in last week frothing to get down some stouts while there was still a crew of boaters in Pucon. Day 1, Rodrigo and Max [Blackburn] picked me up at the bus station, and helped me get my stuff situated before they took off for a Kayak Pucon rafting trip. Rodrigo and Ema have been so good to me over the years, and they run a great business, so it felt weird to be there for fun rather than prepping for the raft trip with my friends, but not too weird. I was stoked to be free to go do whatever, but because I am not working and I do not have a car, I am a "barnacle" at the mercy of those with wheels.

Put-in. This way.

Fortunately, I met up with the 3 Garcias, Fred, Anton and Gramos and we took a quick lap on the Upper Palguin down through the ultimate, Jedi-stroke-n-stomp wondrous, "Boof to Swim." At these low summer flows, it might be more appropriate to call it "Boof to Win."

Nate D-o-doubleG, boofing to...

Anton Immler executing a textbook "squart."

Because it was super hot and becuase it is a particularly dry summer down here, we opted to go redneck it up at the Ojos De Caburgua on day 2. When there's no water in the creeks, cold beers and cliff jumping into ice-cold spring water is not a bad way to pass a hot summer day.

Another great way to pass hot summer day is routing down one of the most scenic and committing gorges of the area, the Middle Fuy. The same crew was motivated to escape from the tourists in Pucon in order to spend the weekend camping on the banks of the pristine Lago Neltume, and we carpooled down with "Blue Balls" and the Rivers, Lakes and Oceans van stoked for laps on the other Middle.

"Do you think my stitches will stay in?"

Salto del Puma. The majestic, mystical Middle Fuy starts here.

With 2-3 times as much water as I remembered from my last trip, the gorge felt pushy and more committing, but the rapids (minus a few portages) are quality at seemingly any level. Despite the tall and unpredictable seal-launch above, the marquee 40 footer was as good to go as ever. A campfire and a few cold beers made the transition to dirtbagging under the stars that much easier.

Garcias preparing for launch.

Dr. Gnar en route to the O.R.

Anton popped up on the downstream side of that giant ball of mist. B-D.

We fried up some eggs and ham on the fire in the morning before meeting Max and Ian for our 2nd lap. I was hoping to run the shit with Rodrigo, too, but he understandably opted to stay in Pucon with Ema to put the finishing touches on their new house. During that run I took a rowdy splat to eddysurf to swim in the lower gorge, just a short pool above the two hardest rapids. Fortunately no gear was lost, but it was a lesson in focus and responsibility, a reminder to respect every wave and eddyline on the river. Regardless, it was a hot day and the booty-beer at the take-out was refreshing. Eager to take advantage of the long summer days, Kayak Pucon guide Fede Medina rallied us for a run down the waterfalls of the classic Upper Fuy before we rolled back to Pucon that night.

Max-steeze with a personal 1st D of the big one.

Buena vista on the drive back to town. Volcan Villarica from the Southwest.

Highlights from the last few days of my week in Pucon include: more "Boof to Win," Nate's last day on The Middle, Fred and Evan stomping Stout 10, sleeping in duckies, sleeping in style at the new KP house on the Liucura, Lower Trancura rafting, more asados and more cliff jumping (Tres Saltos is epic, but watch your dome on the belly-sliding front flips...ask Evan Garcia).

Damn that's stout!

Only 70ft vert to go after this one.

After this line on Stout 10, I don't think Fred will be seal-launching anymore.

Nate opted for the more prudent but equally scary seal-launch.

This is why most kayakers come to Pucon these days. Nate wanted to ride into the rainbow one last time before heading back to winter in Montana.

Now I'm excited to go hit the beach with my girlfriend, then we're off to the South for more boating, more asados and more "ganando" before I have to find a job and she needs to get back to classes. Ganando = winning.

Special thanks to NRS and Astral Buoyancy for your continued support!