Kayaker Pulls Diamond from Pocket and Proposes on Green Narrows after Rescue

And it was there… just below Gorilla on the Green Narrows… in the middle of the river… amid a tangled mess of rope and hope… a kayak full of water, bobbing precariously close to a sieve… one hand holding hers, the other, a ring… she finally said the word I was anxiously waiting to hear… “yes!”

Mid-rescue with hope and rope David Hughes pulls from his dry suit a wedding ring, drops to a knee, and proposes to Jessie Rice in the heart of the Green's most infamous section.

Rewind a month. It was a perfect February day in Chile. The sun was shining, the rivers were full, and Pucón Kayak Hostel was at capacity. So why was I getting on a plane and leaving this paradise behind for the worst West Virginia winter in more than 20 years? I was chasing a girl, of course.

Jessie and I had been defining what it would take for us to share our lives together. We were committed to each other, and our future, but that didn’t make the distance any easier. And I could tell sub-zero temperatures, frozen pipes, and isolation were taking a toll on her. Jessie needed me stateside. So I made the trek with the goal of working on my long-term objectives for Patagonia Study Abroad – and our relationship. If there’s only one thing I’ve learned in my 40+ years, it’s when to act.

Jessie Rice drops into Chile's Throat of the Devil.

I’d been trying to think of the best proposal for quite some time… meaning I did a bunch of Google searches and played out a few different scenarios in my head. They were terrifying. This proposal stuff is risky business! The one thing I kept coming back to is the river. Jessie loves to paddle as much as I do and the river is an integral part of our lives. It just made sense to propose on the river. What I didn’t know is how on earth we would make it out to the river when the entire east coast felt like the arctic tundra.

For as much thought as I had put into it, the actual proposal went nothing like I planned. I scheduled a meeting in Tennessee with my long-time mentor and business consultant, John Miller, and convinced Jessie to join me. “We” decided to turn the trip south into a long weekend, and headed to Asheville. I nonchalantly brought our kayaking gear, but we had only one creek boat between the two of us and I had no clue if anything would be running.

David and Jessie near their Fayetteville, WV home.

Jessie and I had an incredible date night in Asheville and woke up very late on Sunday foggy-headed and hungry. We headed downtown for food. I was patient as Jessie showed off her old stomping grounds and walked in-and-out and in-and-out of at least 3,000 quaint shops and hippie boutiques. My plan was simple. Drive to put-in for the Narrows. Set shuttle. Offer someone upto $200 cash to take photos. Propose at Gorilla or below Sunshine. Drive back to West Virginia. Celebrate. But morning had turned into afternoon and I needed to get this girl moving for my plan to work.

“Jessie, we need to go. I want to go kayaking. It’s the first warm day all winter. We can’t come to Asheville and not paddle the Green.” I kept imagining a proposal at some cheesy tourist overlook and the thought disturbed me. I didn’t want to reveal my hidden agenda, but the consequences of not paddling were at an all-time high. Thankfully my girl unconditionally agreed. Yet another reason I am completely in love her. 

We still had a few logistical challenges. We only had one boat and no shuttle. And it was getting late. I called my friend Nathan Silsbee and within minutes was getting directions to pick-up his Magnum-72. Perfect. As we drove to the put-in, I started to focus on details for the first time. “Jess, are you planning to run Gorilla?” To which she replied, “I don’t know. Probably.” Enter our next problem, which I had not previously anticipated.

The last time I ran Gorilla, I swam. That was eight years earlier and slightly closer to my prime. I knew Jessie had raced the Green before, and figured she had done the run hundreds of other times. I love that she is a badass and can out-stout me on class V. The problem is that Jessie is also the world champion of shit-talk. She finds great pride in humiliating men when they fail on the river. It’s fantastic to watch her skills in action… when you aren’t the victim. And I knew if she ran Gorilla on the day I proposed, while I walked around it, I’d have to endure her telling this story at every holiday for the rest of my life.

I would have no part in securing my own matrimonial humiliation hell. No, I would have to stick it. Then get the girl. That’s the way this was going to work.

But I remained uneasy. I mean, I was confident about the girl part… not so much about Gorilla. 

We didn’t get to the put-in until 4:30 and things did not look good. The warmest day in months and there were only three cars and no signs of people. We would need to catch someone on the river, but this meant we had to hustle. I started to worry about how I would get a photo of the proposal. Jess was changing on the other side of the truck when I secretly put the diamond ring in my drysuit pocket. I compulsively checked and rechecked the ring remained securely in place by patting my breast pocket. Then I reached for my camera.

“David, why on earth are you bringing your camera? We don’t have time to stop for photos.” No time for arguing, I dismissibely responded “I know, but who knows when we will get to run the Green together again. I’ll just snap a few quick pics at Gorilla if you run it.” Phew. She bought the excuse and we shouldered our kayaks and trotted down the path to the river.

It had been 8 years since I led a group of high school students down the Green. And it had been more than 5 years since the Green was Jessie’s after-work special. I was kind of counting on her for the lines, but she just kept saying that a horizon line is a horizon line is a horizon line. We would approach each rapid and look at each other and ask “Do you remember this one?” We’d then eddy scout and yell things at each other like “keep your bow left” as we paddled downstream. 

Jessie and I have paddled difficult runs together before, by ourselves. But it was always on rivers I knew well. This day was different. It was fast-paced and the river was ours to own. There’s something special about the teamwork required to explore a challenging river. And every single time I’d drop into a rapid, Jessie would follow fearlessly with a perfect line. Knowing I was going to propose to her, I could not help but look back upstream and smile, whispering “I love you” under my breath. I was smitten.

Then we get to Zwicks. I went first and waited in the small river-left eddy at the bottom. Jessie cleared the first hole with a perfect boof, and I turned away after I saw her approaching the ledge in perfect position. But at some point, her skirt blew. She made it to the bottom upright, but her boat caught an edge in the seam of the last eddy and she started sinking. By the time I turned around to see what was taking her so long, she was neck-deep, trying desperately to paddle to shore while drifting slowly towards the next drop. “Swim Jessie! Swim” I yelled as I frantically paddled over to her as fast as I could. She clawed her way up the river left bank and I tried to get her boat.

I chased her boat through Chief’s and watched as it slowly drifted into Pencil Sharpener. I didn’t hesitate knowing Gorilla was next. There wasn’t a single thought of being a hero or running Gorilla solo. Nope, I am getting smart with age I tell you. I got to shore and ran the unofficial fastest Gorilla portage ever.

Living the life chasing waterfalls in Patagonia. These two really know how to follow their passions.

Jessie’s boat (which was actually Nathan’s boat, in case you forgot), tomb-stoned at the Scream Machine hole. I placed my kayak on the Gorilla seal launch, looked at Speed Trap and wondered for a second if I was in the right spot. “No room for another rescue” I told myself. Luckily, the kayak landed on a river left rock ledge just below Power Slide. It’s almost as if it had that destination in mind all along. And it finally arrived. Jessie caught up just as I was launching. “What’s the line?” I yelled to her in a last attempt at verifying my approach. “JUST GO” she screamed back at me. Damn I love this girl.

I made it to the bottom and there it was, lodged on a log and teetering centimeters above a sieve. Nathan’s Green Magnum 72. Jessie was not yet in range, still clambering over rocks on shore. I checked the drysuit pocket for the ring. It was still there, thank god. The kayak was a good 40’ away from the river bank, and I knew I would need a swim to get to it. I climbed a boulder in the river that cut the distance, allowing me to get within three feet of the pool.  I assessed the situation. Not deep there. Deeper there. Jump there. Spread your body and land flat. Take your paddle so you can paddle her kayak back. The water was cold. I yelled again for Jessie so she could know my location. Then I jumped as far as possible, spreading my body to flop, not go in too deep.

The kayak was in a tough position, stuck just barely on a log sieve. I held on body upstream of the kayak, and could feel a slight undertow pulling my body. I couldn’t get any purchase with my feet, as the kayak created an overhang. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I pulled up my spray skirt and hooked it on the log under the kayak. I thought about the sadness of drowning and what the headline would be when they discovered my body and the engagement ring in my drysuit.

Holding the completely unstable kayak, I balanced the paddle on the log and lowered myself below the current and unhooked the skirt. No shifts. I was relieved. Now I needed to tip the kayak into the water, climb on top of it, and then get back on the log. I saw Jessie scuffling down the canyon. It would be too dangerous to dump the kayak on the log and there was no place on the river right cliff wall. The only remaining option was to throw a rescue line to Jessie and have her tow the kayak from the shore. The drag in the line would cause the boat to drop into a different downstream channel unless I could get Jessie onto a 6-foot wide flat rock island. In the middle of the river.

I patted my drysuit pocket for the ring once more. It’s not Gorilla, but I reckon that rock island is as good of a place as any to propose. She might be mad at me for making her swim back into the river, but she’ll get over it. New plan. Get her onto that rock. Slip the rock out of your pocket. And ask her to marry you. You got this.

Jessie arrived to the far bank and I instructed her to make the 12’ swim to the rock island. She yelled some expletives back at me and said to throw her a rope. I pointed to the downstream channel, “YOU HAVE TO TOW ME AND THE KAYAK!” She saw the danger and grimaced acknowledgement of what she had to do. Jessie dipped into the water. Swam. Climbed the rock. And positioned herself to receive the throw rope. Upstream I spotted two kayakers portaging Gorilla and pointed. I have never been so happy to see two other kayakers in my entire life. Jessie seemed happy too, but for different reasons I am sure. She threw me the rope. I entered the water, flipped the kayak and hooked the carabineer to the bow end.  I pushed and pulled the kayak off the log while holding my paddle in one hand and the kayak in the other. Another moment passed. Jessie and I were on the rock island together at last.

But our work wasn’t quite finished. I had to swim back to my kayak, which I had left on some rocks just downstream at the beginning of the boat recovery mission. The two kayakers who had portaged Gorilla arrived. They asked if we were okay. Jess, exhausted, was sitting on the rock. I called one of them over and immediately recognized him as Eric, from the NOC Youth Team. He had just stayed at my hostel in Chile. I asked him if he wanted to make $40. Eric replied, “Huh?” Me again, “You want to make $40 bucks? I’m about to propose to her. I’ve got the ring and am going to get down on one knee and everything. I need you to take the photos with my camera.” He smiled, “Sure.”

Note- This story was published on the U.S. April Fools day or Liars Day. In effect the story had a buzz of disbelief. Thus, the following continuation is properly titled, “Proposalgate.”

Read her version continued. 

 

Jessie Rice Wins Women’s Palguin Hat Trick. Garcia Claims Men’s Titles.

Pucon, Chile

It was a blue sky Chilean day for the 2013 Palguin events. This year the annual Upper Palguin Race expanded to adding a Friday Giant Slalom and Sunday Lower Trancura Enduro Race to the featured Upper Palguin Boater-cross spectacular event.

Chile’s Rio Palguin is South America’s most run steep creek for good reason. The Middle and Salto Palguin sections attract top pro-kayakers and wannabe huckers to fantastic clean drops at all-you-can eat heights. A series of class V rapids keep the huckstars challenged. The lesser known Lower Palguin offers another series of cascades a step-up from the Upper Palguin.

upper palguin race
Men's finals Evan Garcia leads Momo Castiloo and Marcos Gallegos into the crux first drop of the Palguin.

The Upper Palguin is the crown jewel that keeps boaters coming back honing their skills. It’s the perfect section for paddlers who want to safely learn to run cascades and be challenged. Experts can push themselves too by racing or running laps on any of the drops. As Pucon’s goto backyard run the Palguin provides a consistent flow of stories and adventures.

This year Kayak Chile owner Ben May again hosted an exciting event setting the stage at the pre-race meeting, “If you don’t set safety during your rest heat then you don’t get the six pack of beer with your entry. The rule is if you touch anyone’s skirt your disqualified. Any questions?”

The buzz of the event was three-fold:  Could chargers like Marcos Gallegos, Aniol Serrasoles, or Momo Castillo pickoff Paddler of the Year Evan Garcia? Which uni-student would win a new class created for a large number of university student chargers? And will the girl talking so much shit actually win her class?

Great Britain’s Natty Cordon Crutches Path to Silver Medal in Giant Slalom

UK's Natty Cordon came to Pucon to kayak, broken foot or not. Who knew she'd win a silver medal and fulfill the 70-foot cascade dream of her life. Congrats Natty for being a badass and having great lines.

The Giant Slalom was an addition to the events boater-cross with 10 course gates well placed along what could be kayaking’s most idea extreme race course. The course is beautiful, adds gate challenges, and comfortable to racers which allows any intermediate boater to participate while separating the pro field. Racers would take the best time of two laps for the event placings.

“It was a good day. I reckon I raced against some of the best kayakers in the world today. Then ran the largest waterfall of my life.” -Pucon Kayak Hostel UK guest Tony Becker

The events began with the Giant Slalom Women’s division. Great Britain’s and PKH guest Natty Cordon with broken foot crutched her way down the canyon as fellow Brit Tony Becker carried her kayak. Natty would notch a clean first heat run while her United States competition Jessie Rice would miss the hard to make second gate taking a 50 second penalty. After Cordon cructhed her way out of the canyon exhausted she decided to stick with her clean first run and the pressure would be on Rice to clean her lines. Rice did clean her lines to win the giant slalom and Cordon would finish her day with a silver and later the 70 foot drop of her life. Congratulations Natty Cordon and Jessie Rice.

In the men’s event Pucon local Momo Castillo stepped up to put the pressure on champion Garcia. But Garcia with proven extreme race experience and a coveted fast line Remix boat would be too fast to catch. Garcia would claim the events first title and set the bar.

This year event coordinator Ben May and Patagonia Study Abroad director discussed opening a university class due to the large number of uni students entering. Now, student athletes had too had an extreme title allowing them to set goals and achieve. Patagonia Study Abroad filled the class as Wes McCue claimed first, Jacob Slobodian second, and Morgan Heimer took third.

Palguin Giant Slalom Results

Jessie Rice- Gold (Women)

Natty Cordon- Silver (Women)

Evan Garcia- Gold (Men)

Momo Castillo- Silver (Men)

Wes McCue- Gold (Men University)

Jacob Slobodian- Silver (Men University)

Jaime Lancaster- Gold (Jr class)

Palguin Boatercross Rice vs Garcia y Castillo

Anything can happen at the notch. Germany's Sebastian Striebel is idol as two boaters boof-pass to advance to second round.

The feature Palguin event has to be the boatercross. Event host and Kayak Chile owner Ben May lines up 4 kayakers on a 10-foot ramp to launch into the pool above the double first drop. This is guaranteed entertainment as racers parlay for position before a bottleneck funnel into two consecutive boofs. A botched line at the bottleneck can result in body checks, passes, bumping, rolling, enders, or plopping off what would be a normally easy cascade boof. It’s simply fantastic to watch.

Rice would be the sole female competitor in the intimidating Boater-cross and thus drawn into a men’s heat lined up against race favorites Evan Garcia, Momo Castillo and Jaime Lancaster.

“It’ll be good for me to be in a race against the men like Evan and Momo so when I beat them they can’t say any of that whiny whine shit that I was in an easier women’s heat.” -Jessie Rice lined in heat against event favorites Evan Garcia and Momo Castillo

Jessie Rice uses her "Riceps" to pull out of the notch hole as she charges for the Giant Slalom title.

Off the ramp Garcia would take and hold the lead from Castillo. While, junior favorite Lancaster landed off-balance giving Rice an opportunity to body check and pass. Garcia and Castillo advance to round 2.

“Midair I saw him (Jaime Lancaster off the start ramp) off-balance so I used the power of my Riceps to knock him over. What’s wrong with that? I didn’t touch his skirt.” Jessie Rice entertaining a crowd laughing with Jaime at his misfortunate start.

University Extreme Kayak Championship Wes McCue

Wes McCue wins the Extreme University Kayak Championships.

May agreed with Patagonia Study Abroad director David Hughes to open a university class due to the large number of students participating. This would be the beginning of goal setting to create the world championships of university extreme kayak racing. And what better place to host a world championships than at the Palguin Race events. The semifinal heat would match students Wes McCue, Morgan Heimer, Matt Whitson and Jacob Slobodian. McCue off the ramp would take the lead to not be passed. While, Canada’s Slobodian would have to make a pass of Heimer to advance to the finals. Wyoming’s McCue would win the finals heat against Slobodian to take the gold title.

Can Gallegos, Serrasoles or Castillo Catch Garcia?

Substantial Media owner Evan Garcia celebrates another Palguin championship.

Garcia would have his hands full in the final heat to hold off chargers like Marcos Gallegos, Aniol Serrasoles, and Momo Castillo. Gallegos had came off a 9-week intensive training program coaching Patagonia Study Abroad students with both am and pm on-water extreme race workouts. Gallegos’s speed and endurance are in top form and he was on an obvious mission. Castillo too was notching fast lines throughout the event easily holding his advancement positions. While, Serrasoles always a contender seemed to be taking dark horse lines and looking for his spots to pass.

Garcia would close all doors to wanna be winners by taking the lead from the start. Gallegos approaching the final cascade above the finish pool would make the last chance and risky line effort for a cascade drop to boil cross which gave Jake Greenbaum a last second pass in 2011 for the title. While, Gallegos made the questionable boil line Garcia had too much lead and reclaimed his Palguin Champion title.

Lower Trancura Enduro Gallegos Training Pays Off

Marcos Gallegos lowers his edge to hold off a boater as he approaches the Upper Palguin's first drop. Gallegos would later win the Lower Trancura Enduro Race.

Marcos Gallegos had been leading Lower Trancura am bridge to bridge races for almost three months with his Patagonia study Abroad team of university students. By now he knew every line and confidently possessed high endurance and strength. Gallegos would pass Garcia and Castillo and claim the over-all runner-up title while Garcia would be crowned series champion.

“It was easier than I thought. I just followed him and listened to his breaths. Then at the end I sprinted hard and was able to pass.” -Marcos Gallegos on strategy

Jessie Rice and Natty Cordon celebrate after the Giant Slalom awards. Rice-gold y Cordon- silver.

The women’s class happily hosted five females as three women from Pucon’s local university joined the tamer Lower Trancura race as well Pucon Kayak Hostel’s own Lauren Thomas entered. Rice would claim her third title in as many days as Thomas earned a silver medal. Rice notched the hat trick by winning all three women’s events.

Pucon Kayak Hostel Fun Facts

  • PKH proudly transported over 20 competitors to the three Pucon Festival events in effect comprising over half the classes.
  • Kayak Chile owner Ben May commences a new university class adjusting to the high numbers of university students charging during the holiday season.
  • Pucon Kayak Hostel is a proud affiliate of Patagonia Study Abroad university programs.
Pucon Kayak Hostel owner David Hughes happy as a clam.

Youth Kayaking is a Rolling Success in Chile

Directions to Pucon Chile.

You are invited to the warm hospitality of Pucon Kayak Hostel.

Click to learn more about Kids Kayak Camps in Chile.

 

Kids can learn to kayak in the heart of Pucon Chile's volcano and river wonderland.

For the second year Pucon Kayak Hostel and Huge Experiences have combined to offer Chilean youth a North American style kayak camp. It’s a traditional camp in a gorgeous Chilean environment. The Pucon area offers a variety of rivers fantastic for safe learning. Plus, if the days are cold the kids practice their rolls in one of the local hot springs pools. Now that’s a cool, or should we say warm, way to learn to roll a kayak.

 

This year three students from Santiago’s high school Nido de Aguilas attended the five-day camp session. Daniel and Lucas Miller attended for their second year as they begin progressing from rolling in the lake to whitewater combat rolls.

 

Nico Andrade practices kayak strokes before trying one of Pucon Chile's rivers.

Nico Andrade is learning to kayak for his first time. While Nico was skeptical at first he’s learning that kayaking is super fun and a great way to be active and cool off during the hot summer months.

 

What do the whitewater kayak campers learn?

The goals of the camp are to have fun and introduce Chilean youth to the sport of kayaking in a safe environment. The program begins with safety protocol and introductions.

Students learn the basics of reading water, the sport of kayaking, how to use a throw rope, and boat repair. Students too have to plan their own breakfast menus and be part of revolving cook teams with one of their coaches. Academically, students get a brief history and geography lesson of Chilean whitewater and rivers. Students also write about what they experienced and learnt via their river crafts.

Is kayaking safe? Lucas Miller takes a fun break to swim in a Rio Turbio laguna? Kayakers learn how to read rivers and safety practices.

Safety Lessons

  • Wet exit teaches students how to safely exit their kayak.
  • Throw rope practice teaches students how kayakers can rescue each other win swimming.
  • Swimming rapids teaches students how to read and navigate the river and it’s currents.

 

 

 

Did you know you can surf waves in rivers. Above Daniel Miller surfs on the Lower Rio Maichin.

 

Hopefully, a seed is planted and these youth become excited to continue learning their rolls this year and soon progress to many of Chile’s great rivers.

 

If you or your child are interested to learn more about kayaking in Chile contact David@PuconKayakHostel.com.

More Photos of kids learning to whitewater kayak in Pucon Chile.

Lucas Miller jumps from a tree into the Rio Tolten. The Tolten overflows like a bath tub out of Lago Villarrica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brothers Daniel and Lucas Miller take a break from learning their "eskimo roll" on Lago Tinquiclo. Lago Tinquilco lies on the edge of Pucon's national park Huerquehue.

 

Directions to Pucon Chile.

You are invited to the warm hospitality of Pucon Kayak Hostel.

Click to learn more about Kids Kayak Camps in Chile.

How to meet girls and get them to photo you hucking stouts.

Directions to Pucon Chile.

You are invited to the warm hospitality of Pucon Kayak Hostel.

Best Selling Programs:

How to meet girls and get them to photo you hucking stouts.

I apologize to those who misunderstood the intention of, “How to meet girls and get them to photo you hucking stouts.” Was it sexist? Sexism is the blatant part. The full intent of the blog was to expose whilst poking fun at self-labeling “pro-kayakers” who believe that because they are great kayakers that they can use those around them. And this is not limited to using women as the blog graphically satirizes.

Read more “Pro-kayaker or Pretender?”

Step 1:  Sit next to cute girls and get them curious to watch kayak videos of you running stouts.

Teresa from the midwest did not talk much but seemed interested in watching the huckstars. As a pre-med student the kayakers realized she had great potential to fund their lifestyles. But could she take a photo?

Goto the typical gringo spots:  Mamas y Tapas, Lat 39, or Ecole. Sit next to cute girls at a restaurant table and start watching videos of yourself running stouts. It’s important that you create a level of curiosity of what’s being watched.

If you don’t have impressive videos of yourself then just view any kayak videos and pretend that the video is of you. These girls never knew the difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2:  Invite girls back to Pucon Kayak Hostel for Drinking Games at the “Quincho”

Cali-girl Mika is tricked by kayakers into having fun and taking video of them hucking Middle Palguin.

“Hey, we’re going back to our quincho for an asado and some drinks. Do you want to join us?” They probably have nothing better to do and will ask, “What’s a quincho and an asado?” Now’s your chance to be smooth, “Oh we’re staying at this super cool place with a big fugon (fire place) for asados or Chilean style barbecues. We usually chill there before hitting the bars around one-ish.” Let the night take you where it will. Remember girls only talk about “black out drunks” in the context of “That guy.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3:  Invite girls to waterfalls and hotsprings the next day.

Canada's Cristin Plaice volunteers to take photos at Middle Palguin.

“Hey we’re going to run some stout waterfalls and then hit the hotsprings tomorrow night… wanna join us. The trails are cool to hike.” Unless they are hiking the volcano you running a pristine cascade is probably their best adventure option. If you are a real kayaker then your interest in the girls is to get them to take photos or videos of you hucking that stout. The girls in this blog were perfect. Not only were they attractive they also knew how to aim a camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4:  Let them have some fun too!

Mika crosses the sketchy Middle Palguin bridge.

 

This is the hard step for most kayakers. Remember to suggest fun things they can do to entertain themselves while you are kayaking. This is a combination of your own creativity and your group needs.

  • Do you need a shuttle?
  • Is there a hike they can do?
  • What about a cool rock slide?
  • Teach them how to take a photo of you with your camera.

But you don’t want them to have too much fun! It’d be a bummer if they miss taking your photo.

Note- Your a kayaker! GF BAD! Don’t get lured in by their long hair and beautiful white teeth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural rockslides are great ways for cute girls to entertain themselves while you fire up some stouts. Teresa, a pre-med student, with her potential to fund kayaking plus her photo taking skills resulted in two kayakers proposing to her. Note how happy she looks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5:  Someone has to fire up that Stout!

Hunt Jennings states, "Girls take time away from my kayaking." Jennings fires the stout for the group and the girls are ready to shed some clothes at the hotsprings.

By now you and your friends have talked so much shite and hype that someone has to do something impressive. Here are a few ways to heighten the hype:

  • Spend lots of time setting up camera angles and direct everyone around you.
  • Act nervous yet act as if you’ve done this a thousand times.
  • Walk to the lip a few times.
  • Make gestures with your hand like it’s your kayak going off the drop.
  • Bend over and stretch… let her catch a glimpse of what’s under your spray skirt.
  • Do some pushups.
  • Take off your helmet and douse your hair.
  • Ask for a shoulder massage. But only a little… you want to save the massage for the hotsprings.
If you’ve followed the system then the girls should be ready to hop into bikinis at the hotsprings. Once in the hotsprings begin rolling your shoulder as if cramped. If she doesn’t notice try a light groan to bring attention to you. Your goal is to get her to offer the shoulder rub without asking.

Directions to Pucon Chile.

You are invited to the warm hospitality of Pucon Kayak Hostel.

Best Selling Programs:

Upper Nevado Log Extraction

You are invited to the warm hospitality of Pucon Kayak Hostel.

How to get to Pucon Chile.

Reserve Now.

At low water Miguel Ruiz Covarrubias aka “Zorro” rappels, swims, slides and jumps adventurists down the Rio Nevado Canyon. The log blocking Pinch-20 aka Ecstasy is detrimental to Zorro’s livelihood business.

Chile’s Rio Nevado has become the Pucon favorite creek run. The Upper Nevado section boasts over thirty clean 6’ boofs, three clean twenty-footers, and a Cali style slide all just a short drive from Pucon.  The Lower Nevado ups the anti of skill beginning with either portaging or running the infamous Demshitzler Cascade, named by D-Pooplar founder and first-descendlar Jared Seiler. The lower falls drop off the Earth into a deep green canyon. You can feel the depths of mother earth as you enter the stair cased cascade canyon. Six quick drops and you’ve experienced a deep-canyon cascade run.

“There’s Wood in There.” -Words Kayakers Dread

Kayaking on an April after rain special Upper Nevado day Ian (Garcia) told me (David Hughes), “Zorro said there’s wood in the twenty-footer on the left wall.” Upon first inspection there was a 40’ tree bridging over the lip of the cascade to the above steep banks, “ahh… we can get around that.” Ian observed. I peered over the edge of a boulder, “Ahh shitt! Ian there’s a log in the bottom too.”

Low water eddy view: Study a log you’ll slide over committing into a funnel to the left 3' wide pinch. It's a rare crack horizon. Tuck paddle. Lock body. Wait. Righty stroke and stomp.

The log underwater was vertically pinned in the middle-landing zone, limbs sticking out as flags. The word portage need not be uttered. We studied the straight up walls. Neither of us wanting to hike, climb, and drag kayaks up a slick, dirty embankment to the road. Ian announced, “You want to throw boats or swim and catch?”  I replied, “You’ve probably got a better arm than me. I’ll go first and catch.” Then chimnied to the lowest point of a crack, jumped the remaining 15’, swam to a rock and waited on kayaks and paddles to drift to me. The perch/catching rock was immediately above a 6’ cascade followed by the known “Auto-boof” 10 footer. We understood that the log would be a problem for next season’s peak-flows and hordes of kayakers.

Portaging Would Miss Six Quality Cascades

The location is in the heart of the cascades of the Upper Nevado at what is called Ecstasy or Pinch-20. Pinch-20 cause the river pinches to 3’ wide and drops twenty feet off a horizon edge.
  • Pinch-20 or Ecstacy
  • 6-footer
  • “Autoboof” 10-footer
  • 4-footer lead into a 6-foot slide
  • 12-foot boof
  • The walls are steep enough to cause a serious portage to the road and reentrance below a series of the 6 quality drops on the Upper Nevado. Yikes!

Extracting the Log

“Zorro do you want to try and get the log out next week?” –David

“Yea Hueon (pronounced way-on meaning dude). We need to get that shit out of there.” –Zorro

“Cool Robby (Dastin) said he’s in and Ian wants to help too.” –David

Two days later Zorro would go in alone, lose two axes, break two small winches, and bust his knee on a rock during the hike out.

Three days later we returned together.

Gear: Ax, dry suits + normal river gear, harnesses, rappel gear, camera, water. Gear we should’ve brought: More fresh arms, ax file to re-sharpen.

Zorro set ropes and began rappelling. He chopped for a long time, taking breaks; fresh I was semi-eager to take my turn.

I’ve run big and difficult drops, hopped and climbed in every situation, have a strong sense of what I can and cannot do, and don’t scare easily. Let’s just say that being attached to a security line walking down a slippery cascade rock to a protruding log with ax in hand was slow moving. HELL YES! My nerves were spiked! We were 15’ high in the middle of a waterfall whacking with an ax at a giant log under water. The water was cold too. But the aerobic workout kept us warm… except our feet.

Chopping was off-balance and exhausting

The inside chopping angle proved ineffective. After chopping I’d climb up the waterfall, which too was tiring. Rest on a perch watching Zorro hacking away. He rested while standing in the middle of a waterfall. Every now and again he’d yell, “AAGGGHHH!”

I began taking 20 strong hacks. Rest. Drink water from the cascade. Rest. Take 20 strong hacks. The water would push the blade downstream like a paddle. By the end the twentieth hack I could barely lift the ax. Then we’d change.

Eventually, we realized we needed more people, more energy, more rest. Another day.

Maybe 75% of the way through a 2’ wide log the easiest angles were gone. Even trading turns we were exhausted, feet frozen. We climbed the wall, gathered gear, and began hiking, wading and busting ass up the creek bed to where we’d previously climbed down the canyon

Cutting a log out of a whitewater cascade.
One foot on a slick rock wall and the second positioned lower on a branch actually was pretty stable leaning back on the harness. You could get a good angle on the 2’ wide trunk’s side.

banks. Zorro said, “I think the floods will break it and wash it down stream.” I replied, “It’s still 6 maybe 8 inches deep and at least a foot wide. Think how strong a board that size would be. I think we have to come back and finish it.” Both of us knew that finishing the job is always more likely than organizing a return mission. Now, the log is nearing its most dangerous state with a hard to hack underside approaching its breaking point.

About Running the Cascade

Seventeen year old Hayley Stuart times the stroke riding the left wall at normal flows.

You peer past a log that you’ll have to slide your kayak over and then drop into a slope funneling to the left wall. It’s a rapid like no other… the funnel is so tight you have to tuck your paddle and ride a rudder. The left wall and giant boulder form the gap/horizon line.  Then as you fly along the left wall time a subtle right stroke and land in the pool. The effect is a small gap forming a large horizon line drop… IT’S AWESOME!

As a leader of rivers one of my favorite things to offer is, “You want to try it blind?” It might be once in a lifetime that a kayaker can run a cascade blind.

   By David Hughes

Owner Pucon Kayak Hostel

Founder/Director New River Academy

Director Patagonia Gap Year

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