This Blog

This blog is dedicated to explorations of spirit, life, adventure, and people. I hope that it encompasses much more than the actions of people, but rather creates a more complete picture of what it means to be an athlete and a person in the outdoor community.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Portages? part I...

The Portage: Palguin
This rapid is incredibly clean and nearly impossible to do upright due to the entrance.  We had five people run it and one of us got hit pretty hard on the shoulder. Typically you submarine through the first 8 foot drop and gain your bearings just before rolling off the ten footer downstream.

The entrance

The typical line

From below

Underwater acrobatics

Trying something different: seal launch into the middle

There. It is done now. No reason to ever do it again. Too bad that entrance isn't better...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Earning It.

Earning it. It is not just the amount of physical effort that you put into a trip or action that creates the emotional response of satisfaction, that feeling of accomplishment. It has more to do with time and the way that you have built up that particular accomplishment in your head.

After having paddled for a few years and doing rivers that people call classics, I have found that joy comes from how you look at the river, how you interpret it as a test piece, not from what other people tell you about the river. It is about whether you wanted it or not.

Think about times when you have felt satisfaction, think about how you have built up the events that lead to that satisfaction. It isn’t what someone else said would bring you satisfaction, it isn’t when someone else tells you that what you did was amazing(though that does bring a different sense of satisfaction), it is when you did something that you thought that you couldn’t do, thought was beyond you.

I have paddled for 8 years. There are only a few memories still salient after years of kayaking, memories that float above the others that I identify as my achievements in kayaking. These memories are not from “Classic” Rivers, they are local rapids that I first saw as an incipient kayaker. At the time I identified them as rapids that were unrunnable, rapids that I couldn’t even imagine being navigated.

We all accomplish things that we think are unattainable, unbelievable. We live impossible lives, becoming people we used to look up to, people we used to be amazed by. This is earning it.

I work at New River Academy.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


The sister to the Palguin, but on the other side of the Volcano. Feels like if you took the Palguin out of California and put it into Colorado. For all you who do not boat out there, it just means there were a lot more rocks and wood in unpleasant places. The first drop:

Another View of the first

The next had hydrology that was hard to wrap your head around.

A portage, and finally: Boof to finish.

Photo taken by Paul from AK, boat courtesy of Pucon Kayak Hostel(See johnny kayaker?)
Another shot on the last. 

A good day on a good run. Worth two hours each way? Sure, a few times a season.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Middle Palguin

I am sorry to say this but Middle Palguin felt more like an obligation than a joy. It felt like a play that had been rehearsed. For some reason it felt empty. 
Pressure exists in the kayaking community to run this one and somehow it sours it. I can't describe it exactly but it was like a chore.
I wish I didn't have to say that. Perhaps it was just the people that I was with. It was taken for granted. Jake was incredibly hung over, and the other boys seemed like they just wanted a notch in their belt. It was sickening. 

I wish my experience on this one was filled with more gratitude. I will go back and give it its proper thanks and appreciation in the future, perhaps just on my feet this time.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Letting go

There is a moment of zen in flight. There is no worry, just a complete surrender to sensation. 

You have to find ways to surrender to that moment. You have to let yourself get there, overcoming your resistance to surrendering is an art.

Your mind can get stuck. It can get stuck on so many things. A rock, an eddy, a boil, the height, your boat, your skirt… consequences.

In order to run bigger drops you have to overcome, you have to become unstuck. But what mechanism do we use to become unstuck. Do we grow our ego to overcome? Do we become selfish to overcome? 

A story:
At the Nilahue we were confronted. A Mapuche woman told us we were trespassing, she yelled, she shook a stick at us and her voice trembled as she told us “El rio esta infierma, la volcan esta infierma, el aire esta enfierma. El rio es libre, pero no puede pasar por aqui”. The river is sick, the volcano is sick, the air is sick. The river is free but you cannot pass through here.

We did not get stuck. We packed up and went through a public access point to get to the river. Questions linger of our decision. Kayakers went there a few days later and she still would let no one pass, the kayakers declined to run it from the public access point. Was this our fault? Did we force another group to walk away from a drop? She asked them if they knew us. 

She holds onto her anger, her pain about kayakers running her sacred river. She said “No tiene Corazon, no tiene cabeza, no tiene respeta por el rio”. You do not have heart, you do not have brains, you do not have respect for the river. 

Like so many other things that would stop us, we ignored that woman. We came from 3000 miles away to go kayaking. We become selfish, ego grows.

Can we do this sport without being selfish?

It is possible but it takes work. Through gratitude, through respect, through humility, encouragement, passion, and sensitivity. It is a challenge and sometimes you lose your way, you make mistakes. This was a mistake. We shouldn't have passed through her land, we shouldn't have been so careless. I tried to repair it. I apologized and grieved and tried to have humility.

But in the end all we can do is repair our mistakes, apologize, let them go, and wait for the hit at the bottom. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rio Fuy

The Fuy is a crystal clear river that drains from the top of a lake, which makes it a pleasant, cool temperature.

The valley is stunning.

The action is continuous, with a few waterfalls mixed in. 

Jake on the same
 another riverwide ledge
The continuous section

We passed the regular take out to finish what we believe to be the first descent of this waterfall:

Jake on the same

Friday, December 16, 2011

The feeling of falling

Hands grip onto the rocks and push. The boat slides, popping off the rocks. The momentum carries you into the current and now you must set up. You see the curler and put your left edge next to it as you reach the lip. The lip is flat on the right, but you know that below lurks a kicker that would send you twisting mid-flight. You draw the bow of your boat to the left as water drops below you. The slide starts. You see the massive white explosion below. You curl up against your boat as if it provided some sort of security, some kind of refuge against what will ensue. It doesn't.
The kayak connects first and slams up against your body. Then your body gets pushed back, the water struggles against all parts of you. You check with your body to make sure that all parts are still intact. You are alive!

The feeling of falling.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Garganta del Diablo

The group

Jake on Garganta

The claro is simply an impossible combination of rock and water. On the hike out:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 37

Tires ground rocks further into the road. We left at eleven, it now is nine. Dust gathers like a threatening storm behind the truck, we escape it. We are on the logistics trip, we get a coaches run on the Claro, and we have to secure food and lodging for ten days. We sit down with Miguel to negotiate. Chilean words fly through the air, I grab a few and get stuck trying to decipher them as the conversation writes pages. I look at faces and catch a few more words, important words. Dos Millones. We have our price and the blanket slides over my head and Lama Marut puts me to bed with words of compassion. I think of it all and fill with gratitude.
Thirty minutes into a hike we are at the put-in, looking at the first drop of veinte Dos, a waterfall run that defies reality: clean drops separated by pools.
 Our boats occupy space between rock and water.
Our bodies absorb the result of this separation and we move forward, grasping at the art of flight.\

Day 37  in Chile.