We woke up in the morning, did our morning business, and eventually had our boats loaded up and on the water. Right out of camp we rounded a corner, passed under a swinging footbridge, and left the arid braided river valley for good. The vegetation turned distinctly greener, but was of course nothing compared to the jungle to come.
We also got to some of our first rapids. The morning was mostly manky class III/IV with a few fun moves and no scouts. It proved perfect for our team to learn to paddle with each other and get used to the heavy boats. Since all the weight was in my stern, my Hero actually boofed pretty well several times, so I had that going for me.
One of the earlier boulder gardens
The day wore on slowly with more boulder gardens toward the afternoon. The whitewater already didn´t match the description we brought with us at all, but around 2 pm we arrived at what we presumed was the ¨first class V.¨
At our flow it wasn´t too difficult, but extra manky. The river divided and dropped steeply through a boulder garden with tight channels. We started boat-scouting through the first few meters. Kase and I went for a channel on the right while the other boys went left. I hung out in an eddy while Kase probed and soon he was out of sight.
I never saw him again to get beta and couldn´t tell if he was safely through the rapid. Dave on the other hand, was through and Mike gave me a signal that his side was fine, so I made my way back left. When I got there, Mike was out of his boat scouting. Zak seemed to be portaging. Dave and Kase were out of sight. Mike told me the line was scrapy, but fine and pointed me through a good channel to the next eddy.
I hopped out to scout the next drop while Zak continued dragging his boat around the drop. When Mike caught up to me, he filled me in on the situation. Zak had probed, gotten pinned, and dropped his paddle. It had taken off downstream so Dave and Kase had given chase looking for it.
Mike and I finished off the rapid, met Zak below, and got out Mike´s breakdown for him. The three of us then charged ahead, running one more scrapy class IV rapid before catching Dave and Kase. They hadn´t seen the paddle either. We doubted it could have stayed far ahead of us and imagined it was upstream still: in an eddy or pinned under a rock.
It was already 3:00 so we decided to camp there and search for the paddle for the rest of the afternoon. We split up to both sides of the river, leaving one person at camp to watch the river, and hiked back upstream. It was only a half-mile back up to the rapid, but still took us over an hour to scour the eddies. After thorough searching, we ultimately returned to camp defeated and prepared another dinner.
Gearing down at the end of the day
So there we were. After only eight days of paddling in Peru, we had already broken/lost two paddles between the four of us. Both of our breakdowns were now in use and we still had eight more days of reportedly difficult whitewater ahead of us with only a couple of known bail-out options. Kase still had a spare paddle, but I still went to sleep that night wondering if this Paucartambo mission was really such a great idea.......
on to day 3