We arrived in Futaleufú late that night. After knocking on a few doors that still had lights on, we were able to find a cabaña to share for the night.
The next morning we met with the third couple of our group, Justin and Eva. Unfortunately, this crew had a short time together since Orion, Kelcie, and Beth would start the trip back to Coyhaique the following day (far too short of time in such a place). Because of this and the fact that we had come all this way to paddle the Futaleufú, we made quick work of getting on the river. Having no personal gear of our own, we wandered around town asking where we could rent boats, pfds, paddles, … the works. Orion, Justin and I managed to piece together sets from multiple companies. Being that the Futa was beyond their skill levels, Beth and Kelcie arranged a raft trip with Expediciones Chile or ‘ExChile’ for short.
With that we were off. The three boys paddled the Bridge-to-Bridge section, a non-stop stretch of class IV water full of large waves. Due to the hectic schedule for the day, there was no time for photos until the end.
The next day Justin, Eva, and I said our goodbyes to Beth, Orion and Kelcie. We remaining began to make plans for the coming week in Futaleufú. I intended to spend as much time on the water as possible, and to ensure this, I began talking to Chris Spelius, the owner of ExChile, to see if I would be able to get on the river with his company. Normally my ego would preclude me from hiring a guide to take me down a river but seeing that 1. I had no gear of my own, 2. I was in a foreign country where I did not speak the language, 3. neither myself nor Justin had the experience to run such a river ‘blind’, and 4. we had very little time in the region, I quickly overcame my pride and made plans to paddle with Chris for as many of the coming days as possible.
I wanted to give a bit of back story on Chris Spelius but I’m afraid it would come off as gushing over a celebrity. Instead I’ll let the link to his bio do the talking. Suffice it to say that I had never paddled with someone who has had such a long and influential career in whitewater and I was appropriately excited for the opportunity (even if I was paying for it).
In the week that followed I honor of paddling some of the most legendary whitewater with a legendary kayaker. We covered most of the river spending a day on The Wild Mile, Terminator Section, and Inferno Canyon stretches of the river. Words are inadequate so I leave most of the story to the handful of photos I took.
The Wild Mile
Inferno Canyon is the most continuously class V section on the Futaleufú. I had considered this section above my skill level. After paddling for a few days with Chris he was confident in my abilities and recommended this stretch. How could I say no?
While this was the most intense and rewarding section I had the opportunity to paddle, the continuous nature and my nerves kept us in our boats for most of the time and prevent me from taking pictures.