Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Río Sacsara: III/IV

We made it to Santa Teresa near the downstream end of the popular Inca Trail trek to stay at Gian Marco´s place and check into some of the creeks in the area. The first was the Río Sacsara, a fairly clear tributary of the Santa Teresa.

From town we hired a ride up-river to the bridge a few kilometers above the confluence with the Río Santa Teresa and got geared up. The water looked low, but optimism prevailed. Or perhaps we just felt the obligation to paddle since we´d paid the shuttle. Either way, we scouted the first section and pushed off.

Mike in the first section below the bridge

The Sacsara is very continuous with plenty of eddies, but none big enough for our whole group. We took to a leap-frogging policy where anyone who eddied out had to wait for the back of the line. After examining the first section for a moment, I was able to find a line where I didn´t hit a single rock. As the day progressed, I wasn´t so lucky. The water was LOW.

Once past what we´d scouted, we were no longer hoping for clean lines, just cleaner lines. Then it was no longer a game of avoiding rocks, so much as bouncing off them at favorable angles.

Kase scraping through boulder gardens

By the end of the first kilometer, I was no longer kayaking, just linking together a series of frantic rudder-strokes to either avoid a straight-on piton, or keep my boat in the right channel. Occasionally I would briefly pin or wash ashore where the river spread out too shallow for my boat to float.

This low brace helped slow me down too, so I didn´t hit the next rock so hard!

Not far into the run the road came into view. I had no trouble hiking out. With the river running bony and a good road along side it, I actually made faster progress hiking than the other guys paddling. Occasionally the river would go out of sight and I´d hear some hoots and hollers, but it was later confirmed that the run never got better. When the rest of the guys reached our take-out at Gian Marco´s canopy, I was ahead of them with dry clothes and an open beer.

Our conclusion? Certainly not a classic. If you´re in the area, it´s probably well-worth doing at double the flow (we had about 200 cfs.) At even higher water, the river would be a really good time and considering the lack of gorges, it´s probably good to go at 1,000. Driving up the river, you get a plenty good idea of the character of the run. If the Sacsara looks too low, consider the lower Santa Teresa.

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