We welcomed the new year in from Puerto Varas, Chile. Its a small town with a large lake flanked by 2 volcanoes. The weather sucked so we mostly stayed around town. For new years eve day we went to a local bar and had the most expensive mexican food I´ve ever had, they did however give me the largest White Russion I´ve ever had. The ´Dude´would be proud. After spending a few days in Puerto Varas hiding out waiting for the rain to stop we finally had one sunny day. We decided to head out to Volcan Osorno to hike around on the volcano. By the time we got off the local bus it was about 11am and the sun was blazing hot. We walked around and viewed some waterfalls and met a couple of guys from West Virginia who work for a kayak school where kids travel around the world with tutors and kayak instructors. Sounds like one of the coolest jobs I´ve ever heard about. Not to mention one hell of a school year, how many high school kids can say they´ve played in Patagonia white water. We had heard and read that Pucon was an outdoor mecca in Chile and these guys said they were stationed out of there.... long story short after a day on the volcano we packed up and left Puerto Varas for Pucon.
We arrived in Pucon on January 3rd in the late afternoon. No more than 5 minutes after getting off the bus I was meeting a guy from Whidbey Island, WA. The world is a small place! We wondered around looking for our first adventure and found a spot called Kayak Pucon. They seemed like a really cool group, very friendly and had some American´s working for them so I knew language wouldn´t be an issue. We decided to take it. They did a class 3 run down a river not many other local outfitters could do because it was only accessible by private property along the river. We showed up at 10am on the 4th to join a group of 7 for kayaks and 5 for a raft. Once we hit the launch site we started putting on our wetsuits and gear (fleece, dryshirt, life vest, booties and helmets). Six of us were in inflatable kayaks which are far more stable but a bitch to steer. Morgan went in a ¨real kayak¨ considering he has some white water experience. It was pretty calm when we first put in but when I saw a girl flip out of her boat on the second set of rapids I decided it was highly likely I was gonna go for a swim. Sure enough, by the 3rd set I was bombarded by waves from all directions and wasn´t sure which way to lean, next thing I knew I had a mouth full of water and was trying to remember to pull my legs up so I didn´t hit any rocks. On the fourth set of rapids I was feeling pretty good, I was still nervous considering I´d already been for a swim but went for it. At one point I popped up out of my boat with the exception of one foot and somehow managed to land back in the boat. It was great until I realized I had many more rapids to navigate and my oar was in my right hand and under my kayak. I had to lean back to pull it out, managing to stay in my boat as I did it but I hit a rapid that spun me so now I´m backwards and heading for more fun but at least my oar was in my hands. I spun as quickly as I could, which is pathetic in those boats and made it through the rest of that set without any additional swimming. The next set of rapids were going great until I realize I was heading for a big, huge rock! I was to the left of the rock but if I cut over I´d be on top of the kayak next to me and flip both of us so I tried as hard as I could to go to the right of the rock, needless to say I ended up straight on it, the front of the kayak went up and over and for a split second I thought I might make it off the side but then the kayak stopped and the water took me over from behind. Once again, I was swimming and wasn't sure which way was up. I felt my head hit something so I was relieved to be wearing a helmet but still managed to swallow a small lake. It sounds worse than it was and within seconds of each fall one of the guides would be right there flipping the boat so I could jump back in. All in all it was a lot of fun but I think I might have been more stressed than happy until it was all over.