Ok, so what to reflect on. Well, guess. What am I completely obsessed with such that it consumes most of my time, money, creativity, and all my time to think freely? Boating, of course. As I hang out down here in Chile and the new year encroaches, I´ve taken a chance to look back at the year I´ve had. 2008 was by far my best season of whitewater yet. In fact, it´s quite possible that I´ll never again live up to the season I´ve had. At least statistically speaking.
The following post is really more for myself than anyone else. But if you´re interested in my quick little recap of a great season, join on in.
I was a little thrown off by the colder weather and water when I put in on Marsh Creek in late May without pogies. But a couple days later, I was no longer risking frostbite and was happy to be kayaking on the Middle Fork at 6 feet with the OARS training trip. Over the course of those 13 days, I strung together the entire Salmon sequence, from Marsh Creek above 6,000 feet to Heller Bar on the Snake below 1,000. Altogether, the trip was over 300 miles long. As the Salmon was where I got my start with whitewater, it has always been a dream of mine to run do all three popular wilderness runs as one trip. As an extra bonus, I got to see Devil´s Slide at 40,000 cfs and have a first-hand account of the rapid that keeps people off the river at half that flow!
At the beginning of Summer, very few of us had concrete plans for the fall. Throughout the season, we would discuss options over cocktails at the guide house and ultimately, Mike, Zak and I agreed on Peru after our work was done. So just before I launched on another Grand Canyon trip, we bought tickets.
Mike and I ran a couple laps on the Green Truss on our way to LAX to meet with Zak and fly out. Getting our boats on the plane was a bit of a struggle, but everything worked out in the end and by October 7th, we were happily moved into a hostal in Cusco looking for the next river. Over the course of the next two months, we found our way down ten different runs including five overnighters. We topped off our stint in Peru with the classic Colca-Cotahuasi circuit and made tracks for Chile.
Toothache rapid, Apurimac River
Beers under banana trees at the takeout
Black Canyon, Apurimac River
Peruvian children loved our boats
Locked in to the Lucumayo
Portaging through Ollantaytambo
Figuring out the Mapacho
One of countless good rapids on the best river anywhere: the Mapacho
Mike and Zak had been in Chile four years ago, so they had a good idea of where to go. The day after arriving in town, I met up with some locals for a morning run on the local classic, the upper Palguin. It´s a short-and-sweet run with three clean drops, and I ran my first 20-footer that day. It was the perfect place to get used to running waterfalls, which have been the focus of most of our travels around Pucon. After a couple weeks hanging out in town with more runs on the Palguin, we took off for our Christmas road trip.
Falling on the Fuy
Allen on the Llancahue
Zak, Upper Palguin, Drop 2
Blue Angels on the Fuy
Zak finishing off the best rapid I´ve ever run. Río Gol Gol
Total days on the water: 174
Unique runs: 52
Personal first descents: 36
Gear lost/broken: 1 paddle, 1 helmet, 1 mosquito net, 1 cotton sock, some foam blocks, a door on Tupper´s Subaru.
Degrees of lattitude covered: 93
Runs missed out on that I´ll get next time: MF Feather, Clear Creek Headwaters, Bridge Creek, Wooley Creek, NF Feather, SF Yuba
Thanks for reading!