After a brief stint at the Pucon hospital — which looks like it’s from World War I — I confirmed that I probably didn’t have a broken back. Unfortunately, it was feeling worse than it had been, so I resolved to not kayak until it at the very least showed signs of improvement. After two more nights of Mamas y Tapas, the crew — Daphnee, Greg Allum, and Ari Walker — decided it was time to escape the siphon and head to Futa.
It’s kind of a long story so I’m just going to intersperse the story with photos from after we got there.
It turns out driving from Pucon to Futa is a bit of a mission. For days, we tried to book a ferry from Puerto Montt to Chaiten, but every time we called, they said, “Call tomorrow, the schedule for three days from now hasn’t been determined yet.” Huh. So, we decided to drive through Argentina instead, a longer (mileage-wise) route that should take more or less the same amount of time.
Turns out that’s pretty complicated too. You need special Argentinian travel insurance for your vehicle…and none of the places in Pucon could issue the insurance for our van, even though by all appearances, that was the whole purpose of their business. So we drove to Osorno (out of the way), and the fifth insurance shop we went to there was finally able to sell us the insurance we needed. Of course, at the border crossing, they didn’t even check it. Oh well.
At around 11pm, we passed through the bustling metropolis of Bariloche, Argentina and stopped at a classy looking brew pub to get a bite to eat. The food was fine, the beer was good, and soon we were on our way back to the van to hit the road again. About half way back to the van, we noticed some miscreants loitering by our windows and thought something might be up. As we ran up to them yelling, it became clear that one had a crow bar and one had a knife and they’d just broken our windows. Fortunately, the one with the crow bar fled immediately, and the one with the knife realized — as a 5′ tall Argentinian — he was likely not to come out from an altercation unscathed despite being ahead in the arms department and he too fled after menacing us for a few seconds. Nothing was stolen, we called the cops, etc. etc., all in all not too much harm done, except that it started pouring rain, it was 1am, and we were nowhere we wanted to be spending the night. A very friendly English-speaking local helped us tape up our windows and we hit the road, sleeping at a bus stop about two hours out of town.
Eventually, we made it to Futa and met up with the Whitewater Grand Prix. Daphnee, Greg, and Ari ran the Futa and said it was incredible. I drove shuttle and drank too much. We stayed for a couple days through the party at the end of the Grand Prix, a big barbecue / bender at the Bio Bio rafting base. The next morning saw a slow rally, but we decided to drive back north to the Pucon siphon via a newfound route — turns out you can take three smaller ferries instead of the one big one that is impossible to book tickets for.
The ferries cross beautiful fjords, pass incredible granite domes, and have no one on board breaking your windows. Far and away the best method of traveling to and from Futa. They also take you past a small town called Hornopiren which is home to two creeks, one of which is a particularly high quality run called the Rio Negro. We scouted an unrun 50’er on it for a while, but ultimately Daphnee, Greg, and Ari decided to put on just below and found one of the better runs they did in Chile. I ran shuttle and drank beer.
After the Negro, the Pucon siphon called once more and we rallied north in time for the Palguin race. High water levels led to an exciting race with plenty of head-to-head carnage, followed by huge sandwiches and a six pack for all competitors (to be shared with shuttle bunnies).
Next up, my photography trip turns back into a kayaking trip…get excited.