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Tino heading south in Chile - 2/24/07

by Cassie Hayden

I’m finally here! The Futaleufu River in southern Chile. It was sort of an epic journey to get here.

My first week in this country was well spent traveling to all the rivers in the Pucon area which has a horizon dominated by a giant volcano that we got to climb. I paddled on the Rio Trancura, Rio Palguin, Rio Leacura, and a few others. All these rivers have one thing in common and this is pretty much true of all the rivers in Chile: beautiful bright blue water. Each run caters to different interests; for example the Palguin is a run made up of awesome safe waterfalls, the biggest being a twenty footer which I ended up freewheeling. The Rio Trancura is a big warm-water run with a surf wave at the bottom that is not incredible but is perfect for figuring out all the new big moves such as Pan Ams, Helixes and KYs. The Leacura is a great class 3 and has a great park-and-play spot which was great to speed over to after our school day was finished.

Speaking of school, its great! I have a Spanish class and a geography class which I get to have hands-on learning everyday in. The New River Academy’s structure is very effective at getting the information for the class into your head by total experience instead of sitting and reading books for hours.

After two weeks in Pucon we packed our trailer and began a four-hour drive to the small town of Cheshuenco. About two hours into the drive we pulled onto a side road and stopped at the put in for the San Pedro. The San Pedro is a large volume river that flows out of a shallow lake so the water is nice and warm for the run. The really cool thing about this run is that the water is clear to the point that you can see thirty feet down no problem and what you’re looking at are very large volcanic formations that are very strange and abnormal looking. On top of the water you find big-water rapids with waves that feel like they were made specifically for downriver tricks. It was not abnormal to throw a Kickflip and hear and feel your hull smack down flat. After taking out we finished our drive to beautiful Cheshuenco which would be our home base for the next week.

Cheshuenco is your typical small Chilean town with a few general stores and a school, but upon closer inspection there is a tourist agency. Why? Because one of the sickest and most accessible runs in Chile is a ten-minute drive away.

The Rio Fuy has two sections: the Upper Fuy and the Lower Fuy. The Upper Fuy is a class 4/5 run with everything from tight technical rapids to thirty-foot waterfalls and everything in between. We had the opportunity to run the Upper Fuy three times during our time in Cheshuenco and each time was a total blast.

The Lower Fuy is a warm medium volume run with some great boofing practice in the first half and some awesome play on the second half. We came across a wave that we could stick blunts and backstabs on and could easily throw the bigger tricks but the wave was not quite big enough to support the landing on tricks like the Helix and KY.

Possibly the most fun the group had during our time in Cheshuenco was a rolling clinic we put on for the local kids. It was pretty funny to watch us all try and break the language barrier with hand motions and out-of-boat hipsnaps. Now’s my time to brag: I happened to be the only person to get my kid to roll. My kid’s name was Maricio and he was def the village athlete which helped a lot and after two hours he was nailing rolls all over the place. Thanks to Zoar and Janet for teaching me the kayak roll and how to teach the kayak roll.

After eight days in Cheshuenco we packed the van and began an incredible journey to where I’m sitting writing this, the Futaleufu. The night before we were planning on heading on leaving for the Futaleufu our van driver decided to head out and party. So at eleven at night our driver stopped by to say he couldn’t drive us in the morning. It looked like we would be in Cheshuenco for a couple more days, but thanks to the hard work of the teachers here we had two new vans booked for the morning so that if one didn’t show up we would have another.

The next morning the first driver stopped by to say he couldn’t drive, so we waited for three hours in anticipation of the one and only van driver in the area. He came! We all piled into the van and took a five-hour ride to the town of Puerto Montt where we would catch a ferry to Chiaten. In Puerto Montt I purchased two wool sweaters to stay warm for the Futaleufu and met up with everyone at the docks where we were to roll our huge trailer of boats and gear onto the ferry by hand. After a tough half hour of pushing our trailer down a ramp and up onto the ferry we settled into the cabin for our twelve-hour ferry ride.

Just for fun, Sam Fullbright, who happens to be one of the brightest and best young photographers out there at the moment, took a walk to the upper deck to watch us disappear from Puerto Montt and into the ocean and was greeted by a dolphin who was leaping out of the water next to our boat for a few minutes. A few hours later we fell asleep and woke up as we were docking in Chaiten. From Chaiten we took a three-hour van ride to our home base here at the Futaleufu by the name of Cara Del Indio, which translates to “Face of the Indian”. The reason for this name is because there is the face of an Indian that seems like it was carved into the cliff wall across from our camp. The best part about our camp is that we are about a hundred yards away from the Futaleufu River!

I’ve been here for a day and have already had a memorable experience playing in some great whirlpools at a rapid called Discobiscuit. I think that is all I have to tell at the moment but expect some video and pictures!

Paddle Hard,


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