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Trying to surface, I found myself underneath a large object in water. I tried to get clear, but it seemed to move with me. The large object had a life jacket strapped to it, and I was finally able to grab it and push off. I reached surface and began laughing. The paddlers hurriedly climbed back into boat. Seated beside me in bow, large object explained that he was reaching down to keep me from falling out when increasing incline toppled him out, too. Good ol’ Bob — he was going to make a great paddling partner. That night we laughed again at video shot by kayak guide Josh. Stan had remained in raft, but four paddlers looked like leftover food scraped hastily off of a dinner plate.
Perhaps a quick primer on rating of whitewater is in order:
Class I: Gently rippling water; you crack open a cold beer. Class II: Beer occasionally sloshes out of its can. Class III: Can is unceremoniously dropped into raft as you grab your paddle. Class IV: Beer can flies out of raft as you hang on for dear life. Class V: You instantly forswear alcohol with newfound religious fervor. Class VI: Considered un-runnable; you hope there’s beer in heaven.
Of course, we weren’t drinking during day. This river is challenging enough already. By way, if you ever run a rapid with a name like “Care Bears,” take it seriously.
The setting sun glinted off my glass of fruity Chilean Carmenere as we lounged on patio. Inside, chef Rocio and her crew were preparing a delicious meal featuring organic produce from garden and seafood from nearby Pacific. H2O Patagonia offers custom trips for families, women, and even gay couples. This expedition, “Adventures in Wine", featured tastings conducted by Alex, a highly trained sommelier from Santiago. It seems some of best Chilean wines are not exported, and many contained some delightful surprises. Alex poured us a sauvignon blanc with spice of a Gewürztraminer, and a Gewürztraminer with crisp freshness of sauvignon blanc. Did I mention things can seem turned upside-down here?
The Mapuche were feisty natives who survived repeated attempts at subjugation by Spaniards and Incas. We too were thinking of survival as we put our rafts in water half a mile above Inferno Canyon. A thin but ominous overcast dimmed sky. We would run an easier rapid en-route as a warm-up: “Class IV for breakfast,” Harvey chirped. Pillow Rock had been Class IV, and it had eaten us for breakfast.
To read this entire feature FREE with photos cut and paste this link: http://www.jetsettersmagazine.com/archive/jetezine/gear/top100/travel/travel.html Robert LaGrone, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Read Jetsetters Magazine at www.jetsettersmagazine.com
Robert LaGrone, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Join the Travel Writers Network in the logo at www.jetsettersmagazine.com