Thursday, January 19, 2012

Looking South

Sunset with Volcano Villarrica
The season here in Chile has been dry.  We showed up to Pucon just as the last bit of water was draining from the “Classics”.  The Rio Nevados, running mostly on rain through December, left us with just a taste of its amazing canyons before it dropped below boatable levels.  Many other creeks and rivers have fallen victim to a light snow pack and no rain.

Even though many of the rivers are dry there are a few that continue to flow from the snow high in the mountains and volcanoes outside of Pucon.  The Palguin and the Trancura still provide excitement, but after days of paddling these rivers it seems everyone looks South.  The “siphon” of Pucon, as kayakers so eloquently put it, is easy to fall into and after several days of surrendering to its power you realize you need to get out.  Our group of three decided to escape south for a few days in hopes of finding higher flows and some new places to explore.

Now, kayaking trips are somewhat of a mixed bag.  When considering a kayaking trip from home, one seems to overlook the specifics.  The allure of great boating and incredible scenery blots out the true nature of the trip.  Once on the trip, it becomes obvious that you spend most of your time smashed into a vehicle with tons of equipment, a couple other stinky, grumpy guys, visiting the countries numerous, and thankfully, very convenient tire repair shops.  There really is nothing like it.  Our road trip was filled with wrong turns, flat tires and long dusty days on the road.
One of many flats on our roadtrips
Our first stop this trip South was the Rio Llancahue which flows from the volcano Villarrica; the same that the Rio Palguin does.  The water color is a light blue and the river runs through a lushly forested valley with a few mini gorges spicing up the run.  Our paddling day started early in the dewy morning air to an angry man revving his tractor motor as he careened through our camp at 2 miles an hour.  I woke just in time to see him run over a corner of Tango’s tent (with Tango still inside), hop off his machine and repeatedly hit our truck with a bamboo stick, while yelling all the Chilean insults any of us had ever heard.  We rose from our dew-soggy sleeping bags in disbelief, collected our things in groggy furry while the fat man yelled and found we had a flat tire.  The day was off to a precious start.  After changing the flat and drying our things out in the ditch next to the put in, we put on the river and lost ourselves in the fluid chaos of the river.

What a nice flat, grassy spot to set up camp...little did we know
Tango on one of the steeper rapids of the Llancahue
After getting off the Llancahue we made our way to the Rio Fuy.  The Fuy is a big water river that begins at the mouth of Lago Perihueica right on the Argentine border.  The put-in for the run is on the shore of the lake and the run itself is an incredible combination of big water class 4 followed by a waterfall section with several big drops on it.  After a few days on the Fuy we returned to Pucon happy and ready for our next trip south.

View from the road to the Fuy. 

Baer on the first 20 ft. of the Fuy's "waterfall section"

Tango and Baer on the bottom big water drop of the "waterfall section"-this dropped flushed into a river wide 6 ft. ledge hole with a 30 ft. drawback.  I took pictures

Just your run-of-the-mill view from the side of the road.