After a brilliant and long overdue trip to see family and friends back home it was back to Chile and another season on the Futa.
Before the long trek to
Chile I had a little time to kill in Mass and with some good snow it
was another opportunity to get on a board and watch Mike hurt himself
at Mt. Snow. Before he tweaked his knee he had the chance to hit this
ledge outside Smith College despite the best efforts of Smith Security.
The trip to Futa went
smoothly and each leg linked up seamlessly, with the help of a small
connecting flight from Puerto Montt and Chaiten and a generous farmer
who took me to the bus in his pickup. I arrived after 36 hours straight
of travel and only a little dusty but with the kayak and all my bags.
A crew from Rush TV and
National Geographic were there to film. They needed some kayak footage
the next day and had hatched a plan to get some beat-down footage. The
plan was hatched to film us dropping into Mundaca and just see what
happened. Not really much of a warm up after a lazy month of
socializing in England, but it made sense to knock out the cobwebs.
The week proceeded with us
dropping into more stuff and them strapping cameras to us in various
ways. Apparently the quality was not that good with the little one so
they came up with this contraption. It took a little getting used to
having this much weight hanging off one side and keeping the view
still, but it was fun playing around with expensive stuff strapped to
The premise of the show
is that Joby (The Talent) Ogwyn was going to learn a new sport in each
episode and then do something cool with it. So far he had driven in a
Nascar race, BASE jumped off the Eiger, ridden a bull in a Rodeo and
now he was here to kayak the Futaleufu. In six days of kayaking we
schooled him as much as we could and set him out a pretty big
challenge. Check out the show on Rush TV this spring titled The
The coolest thing about
the whole show was that for the final two days they brought a chopper
in with the most beautiful camera ever made to get some aerial shots.
This provided some entertainment for us on the last day when I was
requested to double as Joby in his gear for some scenic shots in flat
water since he had to fly home after the final challenge. After the
jokes about Un-reality TV I will admit that it’s pretty cool having a
helicopter flying low as you paddle.
During the film shoot they
managed to drill holes in helmets and one of the new Remixes that we
had just got in time for the show. After they were gone though it was
back to the normal routine of heading down the river. However, just in
time for Christmas and New Years this meant a succession of asados and
fiestas. Futa’s disco was in full swing for both events and we had a
lively crew for both events which led to a ton of dancing and the usual
singing in the hotel bar.
With the water
seasonally low it was allowing us to run all the sections right off the
bat and with the first run down Inferno leading to a big flip in the
first rapid the new guides got a good taste of what the Futa can dole
out. Some reacted well and some got a little freaked. For a taste of
what our writing intern thought check out her blog at Uncommon Print for a littel more dramatic version of events.
The thrill for me that
day came from more of a spectator’s vantage point laughing
uncontrollably as I picked up paddles while the rest of them clung to
the raft. Making our way down to Dynamite and the inevitable portage
with the rafts was eventful. Even the last rapid provided a great
dumptruck to round off the canyon. Throne Room provided the scariest
proposition with a huge tree in the toaster that made the left line
mandatory unless you really wanted people to question your sanity. Left
proved good and after a couple of weeks the tree was gone which only
left a slight possibility of it being lodged just under the surface.
Ignoring that possibility, the main line was back on and Tristan was
the first of the new guides to step up to the plate. I’ll get the video
January and February have
been two of the driest months on record and the river continues to
drop. This has opened up new lines and let things get pretty
interesting in others. Most of Chile has suffered the same issue but
the Fuy, south of Pucon. had plenty of water and Caden and I got some
brilliant water levels for the waterfall section. With some really
entertaining clients they kept our hands full on the river but we
managed to get away for some quick runs ourselves. The highlight of the
trip for me was meeting up with Tino and Huge Experiences somewhat
unexpectedly and getting a dawn run of the Middle Fuy with him and
Dave. After paddling with Tino for some time now in the US, it’s
brilliant to get to paddle on another continent with him.
The trip went off well
with no mechanical problems and only mild disco issues in Bariloche,
even if some people only managed 1 hour of sleep before getting up
to head to the Manso. Armed with some good beer we headed back to the
Futa and into camp for some long nights by the fire.