Sunday, December 16, 2012

South America- Chile and Argentina!

Tits Deep- our favourite wagon
 After an epicly long drive from the Americas back to the Canadian capital city of Ottawa Louise Urwin, Katrina Van Wijk and I were left with 2days to organize ourselves and repack for the journey on to South America- Chile! Big thanks to Claudia and Dirk for having us to stay- pancakes and the hot tub were amazing! Katrina and I flew into Chiles capital city of Santiago on the Wednesday and were greeted with incredible hospitality from Christian, the guy we are renting our truck from. Big thanks to Dave Fusilli we are riding in style in the infamous  gypsy wagon! It is super sweet 

Me dropping into the 40footer on Rio Blanco- photo above!

The view from the top of Salto Del Nilahue in the picture below!

and runs smoothly. After a night in Santiago staying at Christians family home we picked up Louise Urwin who flew in the following day and we hit the road to Pucon. Pucon is a very beautiful little town that is surrounded by lots of nice mountains and an impressive volcano. It is also in range of many amazing rivers that are perfect for kayaking. Our opening night here was introduced with a good night out at Mamas and Tapas. This was followed by Katrina and Lou jumping on the upper Palguin. I was able to walk in and checkout the run, with my shoulder still healing I opted not to paddle. I managed to eventually get on a easy class 2/3 river called the Rio Laucauer, a good way to ease  back into kayaking after a good six weeks or so out of the boat. 

After a few days in Pucon staying at the Pucon Kayak Hostel we headed South towards the Upper Rio Llancahue where there was a little race being held. I supported well the ladies threw down cleaning up the competition. 
Next we headed to the Rio Fuy where we met up with our good Argentinian friends Fidel and Mirko Moreno. The Rio Fuy has three sections. First we hit up the Lower section  for a cruisy run down some fluffy high volume. This was my first proper river run since I broke my scapular 6weeks earlier and it was so sweet to be back on the river!
We then cruised up to the Upper section of the Fuy. This is class 3/4 and has a lot of really cool fun rapids. The last section of it ends on the Leona waterfall section which is a spectacular scene of clean drops. Such a beautiful place and I am really stoked to be lucky enough to be here. The shuttle for this is roadside so super easy. 

After a couple of days of paddling the Upper Fuy we decided to move South to Salto Del Nilahue. This is a perfectly beautiful 60-70 foot slide into freefall waterfall landing in a massive pool of pumice filled water. With my shoulder feeling better everyday I was soo keen to paddle this drop, it just looked so good to go! The first day I decided to take it easy as I was concious of not pushing myself too early. The next day my body was feeling good and I made the call to run the falls. I had a great line and a soft landing! It felt amazing to be back on the water and routing off such a beautiful drop. Salto Del Nilahue is a magnificent drop that is totally good to go. I would recommend setting safety on the river left as there was a harsh undercut cave. We were camped at a campsite right above the falls on the river left for a cheap cost of around $2 per night. We drunk wine and enjoyed Argentinian style meat (Asado) cooked on the fire with our epic crew- Katrina, Lu, Fidel, Mirko, Beth and myself!

Next we decided to head to the Rio Florine. As we arrived in this section of the country the rain gods had let loose so we decided to give our tents a rest for the night and stayed in a cozy cabin next to the river at a Thermas. The Thermas were amazing and a great treat for our bodies. The next day we got up and decided to paddle the Rio Currungue, a pretty cruisey class 3/4 run that took around 2hours. 
Next up we headed to the Rio Gol Gol. This river is right at the Argentinian and Chillaen border. A very sweet class 4+ run with at least 6 major drops. When we got there the river was a bit higher than usual but still pretty good to go. We had a really sweet day on the river and stayed right on the rivers edge camping just above the mighty Salto Del Indio drop. This is a 40-50foot drop that we all fired up! It provides a big hit at the bottom and my paddle was ripped out of my hands, after failed handroll attempts Katrina and I resorted to swimming!
Next stop was our first river in Argentina- Rio Blanco. We were fortunate to meet up with Matias a Argentinian friend of the Moreno boys. He took us in and to what has been my favorite run in South America so far! The Rio Blanco is a super sick run that I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to run. It was a bit high for us to run the biggest drops at the start of the run however we were able to paddle everything else, minus the portage rapids. Clean drops, a sweet 40footer and really scenic continuous gorge sections kept us stoked for a couple of hours. After a night of staying in the Argentinian wilderness we ran the Rio Blanco again the next day. Such an awesome run!
The next night we rallied to Esqual to stay at the Moreno brothers home. We rested there before heading to the Rio Futalefu the next day. After an interesting crossing of the border back into Chile we arrived in the small town of Futalefu. We were greeted with buckets of rain and a chill in the air. Fidel and Mirko’s friend owns a hostel near the river so we went there to drink matte and soup before heading to the rio. We hopped on the Rio Futalefu just above the Terminater section. This is a super fun continuous section of white water. There are many lines you can take, some more challenging then others. 
We continued down the bridge to bridge section which includes many super sweet rapids. When we got to the end of this section we then carried on to my favorite rapid- Mass or Menus and a final rapid that prooved fun but challenging. 
I was super stoked to be at the Futalefu but we needed to head back to Pucon to start preparing for the White Water Grand Prix competition starting on the 1st of December. We had a day off the water and caught up with my good friend Laura Cashmore who took us out on her boyfriend Ima’s farm just out of the small town of Esqual. It was amazing there, a super beautiful place and we were treated to a nice BBQ followed by some horse riding in the wilderness! So happy to catch up with Laura, she is one of the raddest chicks I know and so much fun to be around. The next day we cruised back up to the Argentinian town of Bariloche. It was here that we caught up with our friend Matius again and stayed the night at his place. Big thanks to Matius for his hospitality, it was really sweet. 

We finally made it back to Pucon and met up with all of our friends that will be joining us in the White Water Grand Prix. Being back on the water I was pretty happy to be able to go out and paddle the Upper Palguin- a super fun run. 

 Enjoying lunch at the put in of the Rio Fuy- my first day back on the river since my injury.
 Enjoying our nightly vino with dinner
 Crossing the border from Chile to Argentina- amazing scenery!
 Ladies in Argentina:) me, Kat, Lou
 En route to my favourite run in South America, Rio Blanco- Argentina
 Horse Riding with one of my favourite Kiwi ladies in Argentina- Laura Cashmore:)!!!
 Kartina Van Wijk firing up Los Allerces at Dusk...
 Lou Urwin and I chilling in the Chillean sun- Pucon Kayak Hostel
 Katrina and I after some sweet lines off Salto Del Nilahue
 At the bottom of Salto Del Indio!!!

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