Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Río Mapacho: V - Day 7

by Zak Sears
back to day 6
Elevation at camp : 1329


It was raining heavily when we woke, so we put our kayaking gear on in the tents and left camp by 7:45. We were expecting to get to a big portage and an unscoutable canyon and didnt like the possibility of increased flows with the rain. We passed under a foot bridge ten minutes outside of camp, then hit the portage ten minutes after that.

The rivers gradient picks up a lot, and the river is full of huge boulders and big drops. Some of the drops went, others didnt, and it was hard to link up what seemed to be a runnable line. We walked on the right side to the bottom of the rapid 300 meters down through huge boulders with several gaps we had to rope up, or pass boats. Half way through we decided to unload boats and carry a gear load rather than carrying 90 pound boats through the boulders. The whole portage took us 1:45 minutes.

From where we put in below the portage, we could see a deep gorge about 500 meters downstream. It was clear when we got there that it was the unscoutable section we had heard about, but we were able to get out on the left and scout. The right side looked tight and undercut, and the left sneak that we had also heard about had to little water to run the whole thing. Downstream looked busy with a few moves to make, but we could not see it that well and the canyon went out of view around the corner further downstream. We cought an eddy above the drop on the left, and walked our boats over some rocks in the channel for a few meters. We then ran the rest of the rapid, chipping away to the left in the main channel the whole way down. The whitewater slowed towards the bottom of the canyon until it became flat at a large tributary comming in the right. The gorge was unbelievebly beautiful as its walls started to become less and less verticle.

We had lunch on some rocks in the sun, relieved that the water had not come up before the gorge. After a half an hour of paddling, we came to a tributary on the right that bumped the flow up by 100-200 cfs. We estimated that we were floating on about 2000-2500 cfs below the trib.

The extra water made the next hour of class 3+/4 whitewater take on more of a big water feel.

On to day 8

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