Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Hike Through the Woods

Today was short and somewhat tiring.  We slept in late, and I completed some work that I had to do before we left the hostel.  This took us until noon, and made me even more tired and stir crazy to get back on the road.  Before we left town however, we decided to eat lunch.   We had planned on driving through a national park with no towns and quite a few camp spots.  We did not know if there would be any food options in the park so decided to stay on the safe side and eat a big lunch in Esquel.  We also wanted to buy some groceries just in case we needed them later on.  After eating an average lunch and stopping by a grocery store we were back on the road towards the park.

After about an hour of driving we crossed into Parque Nacional Los Alerces.  A friendly women at the visitors center told us about a hike only a couple minutes drive from where we were.  This hike lead up to two big and beautiful waterfalls about thirty minutes from the trailhead.  We drove to the trailhead and began the short walk.  Two of the coolest things about the hike were the bamboo and the trees.  For the first part of the walk we passed amazingly large trees about seventy meters high and with trunks of about three meters in diameter.  Many of the trees we saw were at least a thousand years old, based on a labeled tree stump at the visitors center.   I had a great time trying to climb one, but I did not get very high.   For the last part of the walk, we hiked through a tunnel of tall, skinny and yellow bamboo, the tops of which, barley in view, shined and glimmered in the evening sun.  The waterfalls were beautiful too, but I liked the scenery on the walk better. 

The Top of One of the Two Waterfalls on the Hike

We have finished up the day at a cozy camp site near the park entrance.  We have set up our tent and are ready for a peaceful night.  I am excited for tomorrow and hope we see even more cool scenery!

A Branch of the Great Monkey Puzzle Tree

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic! 



Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Today was spent on the long tiring road, floundering over a tricky decision.  In the morning, however, we left Aren, Sarah, and Hannah’s lodge.  We left because over the next ten days, Aren and Sarah will be occupied setting up for, and participating in, the “Futafest.”  The Futafest happens once a year and is an opportunity for all white water boaters, worldwide, to come together and celebrate the Futaleufu River.  During the three day Futafest, competitions, parties, and events of all kind take place.  Most of these happen on the Bridge to Bridge section of the Futaleufu.  We did not stay for the Futafest because we had other traveling in mind.  We had been thinking of coming back to the lodge after the Futafest was over and Aren and Sarah were free.   We left the lodge with no plans.  This was our mistake...

After about an hour of driving, and a slick border crossing from Chile to Argentina, we came to the town of Esquel.  There, we ate a nice lunch and contemplated our situation.   Because we had come from the West, we were left with three choices of direction;  North, South, or East.  We realized that if we went North towards Bolivia, and left Patagonia, we would be less inclined to go back to Aren, Sarah, and Hannah’s in 10 days.  So, we decided to head to the coast of Argentina and book it East.  After about one and a half hours of driving, we stopped on the side of the road on a beautiful, small, and dry mountain pass.  I took some pictures of the pass and rolled my eyes when I came back to the car. 

My parents were looking over the map and calendar with a new plan.  We all realized that if we wanted to see all the countries we had planned on in South America, there was no time to go back to Aren, Sarah, and Hannah’s.  Also, the road East was long, bleak and arid, and the coast was not worth the four day round trip drive.  Thus, we decided to go all the way back to Esquel and, tomorrow, head North after all.  So, we turned our backs on the coast and drove one and a half hours back to Esquel.......Seriously??!!

So, here we are in Esquel.  After about five hours of driving we are approximately two hours away from where we started.  I didn’t even know that was possible!  Another capricious day under TCR’s belt!

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Today was rainy and we were all tired.  We woke up to start today’s kayaking adventure with a steady drizzle of cold rain and cloudy skies.  After a hardy breakfast, we set off through the rain to the Limite section of the Futaleufu River.  It was a long drive, and we were all tired and sluggish.  We have been kayaking for many days straight, and it has taken its toll on us. 

We finally arrived, and, with clinched teeth, slid on our wet, cold, and soggy gear.  After some roll practice, we headed on downstream.  The first part of the day was mostly flat water, with some nice, mellow, waves to surf.   I was doing well, but it is still hard for me to get on the waves.  Soon the rapids got bigger, two of which had waves about three times the size of my kayak.   All along the river, I did continuous practice rolls.  Soon the take out was in front of me and I was dizzy, and tired.  I had done about fifty rolls in total.  What a morning we had!

The fun times at Aren, Sarah, and Hannah’s lodge are almost over.  Tonight we will have lamb recently slaughtered at a neighbor’s farm.  This morning, Sarah and Aren’s neighbor Ivan, brought over the freshly skinned carcass and it is hanging in a bag just outside of the lodge kitchen. 

Tomorrow morning, after breakfast, we leave for Argentina.  I am sad to leave and am going to miss all the fun times I have had with my new friends.    I enjoy having a friend my age to play with and be my buddy and will miss Hannah very much.   Maybe we will come back.  No one ever knows where the capricious family of Tim, Cat, and Rohan will travel next.

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Punching Holes

Today we woke up and it was cold and rainy.  Despite the dreary rain, we all had our minds on the river.  I had some math to do, but my super dad let me delay my work for the afternoon.  The best part of the day was the kayak trip in the morning.

We set off through the rain to the same put-in as our first kayaking day at Aren and Sarah’s lodge.  The plan was to kayak the same section of the Rio Espolon, but to go a little further to a supposedly good play hole and take out from there.  For all non whitewater boaters out there, a hole is a wave that recirculates making a pillow at the down stream end of the wave.   This is created by the wave of water going upstream.  Some holes can be dangerous.  You or your boat could get stuck recirculating in the hole and, in the worst case, drown before you eventually flush out.  Other holes can be fun to surf.  These are called play holes.  They flush out easily, but still are big enough to hold your kayak for the thrill and the ride that makes surfing fun. 

We carried our boats to the put-in of the Rio Espolon and started our kayaking morning.   All through the morning and day, we stopped at small waves to practice surfing technique.  I was having tons of fun and getting really good at surfing the small waves.  I also made a big step forward in my rolling technique.  For a roll, you twist to one side of the boat, complete a motion of torso and arm movements, and come up on the other side.  As you can guess, you can roll on either side of the boat.  I first learned the left sided roll.  It is hard to learn the right side after one has drilled the left side so many times.  Today, I finally got my right sided roll!

After traveling down stream, we came to the surf wave and the take-out.  To my disappointment, Aren said that the current water level made the hole dangerous for beginner surfers.  My parents surfed the hole and some waves right beside it.  Aren told me that I could, at least, practice punching through the hole a couple times.  I pounded through the wave with my head down and my paddle secured on the other end of the hole, pulling me forward.  We had a blast at the play spot, and enjoyed a snack over looking the river.  Soon the morning was over, and math awaited me back at the lodge.

This morning was really fun.  I hope I can find a play hole that is safe for me in the future.  For the rest of the afternoon I completed my small math assignment.  I hope tomorrow will be as good!

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!    

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Going Big!

We are in southern Chile, staying with Aren, Sarah and Hannah, and all working on our kayaking skills.  Mom, Dad, and I have been drilling our rolls, working on our eddy turns, and bumping up our boating skills.  Today both my dad and I made great accomplishments in our kayaking, while Mom enjoyed a day of paddle rafting.  Dad boated the Bridge to Bridge section of the Futaleufu for his first time and I reran the class III- rapid on the lower Futaleufu, which had caused me to swim last time.

The Bridge to Bridge section is predominately class IV and is the classic Futaleufu run.  Today, my dad boated his biggest and most intimidating kayak run ever.  He started off nervous and scared.  After the first couple rapids, Timothy Silbaugh stated, “I get it, this is how the Futa flows...”.  About half way through the run, he came to the biggest rapid on Bridge to Bridge, Mundaca.  This is a huge jobble of big and crashing waves all flowing into the giant Mundaca hole, five times the size of a kayaker. Soon Dad’s run was over and he pulled his boat up the slab of rock at the take-out.  He was on a major high and he was the happiest and most energetic I have seen him in a while.  I was happy to celebrate my dad’s success, but soon it was my turn.
Mundaca Rapid
Aren Helping out a Nervous Dad
Mundaca Hole
Thumbs up Before the Gnar!
After a quick lunch by the river, we drove from the take out of Bridge to Bridge to Lower Futaleufu, where my rapid awaited.  Today, the plan was to practice rolls and to run the rapid as many times as we wanted.  I slipped into my boat and recognized the waves and the rocks.  I was going to take that darn rapid down.  After some rolling, surfing, and eddy peal-out practice, we ferried across the river to the eddy on the other side from which we would walk to the top of the rapid.  My ferry went slick as silk but my mind was elsewhere.  I was going to show the rapid once and for all that I was the boss.  On my last run, I was flipped by a huge wave and swam.  Those waves were going to bow down before me.  With building suspense we walked our kayaks up to the rocky beach before the rapid, we pealed out of the eddy, and we turned our boats towards the rapid.  I paddled over the first small wave of the rapid, this was it.  This was the moment I had been waiting for ever since I swam.  The waves became bigger.  I remembered to lean into the confusing and misleading lateral waves littered around the rapid.  Soon I was punching the last big waves. I had done It!  This is for you, big, fat rapid: Think before you try to force my boat under.  I will always be BACK!!!!!

Today was so great!  I was extremely excited for myself and for my dad!  It was a big day for both of us.  Mom also enjoyed a day on the raft.  I am tired out and hope to get some rest before the mysteries of tomorrow pop up in front of me.

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!                 

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Down Day

Today was a down day with Hannah.  For most of the day, rain pounded on the roof of Aren’s, Sarah’s, and Hannah’s lodge.  After a quick lesson of math this morning, I ran through the rain from our cabin to the kitchen building of the lodge.  Because it was a rainy day, Hannah and I wanted to watch a movie.  One minor problem: at Aren’s and Sarah’s lodge there is no power.  So, we had to take our movie to the neighbor’s.  The neighbors kindly charge most of the lodge’s electronics.  Alisa, from Colorado, is staying at the lodge and is working as Hannah’s home school teacher.  Today, she had her computer charging at the neighbor’s.  She said we could watch movies on her computer due to the pouring rain.
Terri and Alisa
The neighbor, Alba, is taking care of her husband who is cursed with Alzheimer's.  Every day, Alba feeds, and takes care of her husband, Don Washington.  We were kindly let in by Alba and drank lovely, hot tea and ate delicious bread.  We watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, (“Someday son, all this will be yours!... What, the curtains?") and part of Marmaduke.     

We came home and played games upstairs while Aren cooked us delicious Pasta.  I am finishing up the blog and am excited for tomorrow, hopefully bringing kayaking and merrymaking.

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


We are still in Patagonia, Chile, relaxing and enjoying a kayaker's life.  Every morning we eat delicious food, I play cards with Hannah for about an hour, we go out boating, and we come back to repeat the same cycle.   Today, we boated the only class II section on the Futaleufu River, but later looked at the hardest class V, Terminator. 

In the late morning, we paddled a small section of the Futaleufu River.  We put in at the bottom of big rapid, stretching our legs after the long car ride.  Aren told us that we had an opportunity to ferry across the river to the eddy on the other side and, after walking to the top, run the rapid.  Most of the class II rapids I have done have been in medium sized rivers, with some technical moves, small waves and rocks.  This was different.  This river was amazingly wide and vast, had big waves, and hardly any rocks.  My ferry below the rapid went fine, but the immense size of the waves I was passing through was intimidating.  After ferrying, we carried our boats to the top of the rapid.  There, we ferried to the middle of the river where we took the center right line down the run.  During the run, I caught an edge, tried to roll in the big waves, and swam.  I grabbed onto the back of Aren’s boat and he paddled me to shore.   My next opportunity to try that rapid again, I will take it and show it who’s boss.  The rest of the run went well with no more extremely tricky rapids.  I was impressed by the stunning scenery of high and towering cliffs.  

On the way back home, we stopped by Terminator, the biggest class V on the Futaleufu.  We parked the car and walked for about thirty minutes towards rushing water.  Soon, we came upon a massive rapid.  Aren and Dad were talking about different lines that one could take, but I just saw a mass of boiling water.  I started to understand the line when we saw two boaters run the hard left.   I did not have my camera with me so these are Mom’s pictures.

I hope tomorrow will be as great a day as today.  I had fun running the lower section of the Futaleufu and am excited to run the rapid again, this time staying afloat.   I also loved seeing Terminator and was amazed at the skill of the boaters we saw running it.  Tonight we will eat an yummy serving of fish followed by a sizzling, hot apple crisp!

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic! 




Wednesday, February 22, 2012

RxRivers, Patagonia

We are in Patagonia, Chile and are having a blast.  We are hanging out at RxRivers, a lodge run by an American family who spends half the year boating in Chile.  There are several other guests staying here too.  It is hard to get Wifi and power at the lodge.  Power is acessed at the neighbor’s house, and internet can only be used by poaching it from the school up the road.  Last night I did not write because I was playing with Hannah, we had no power on the laptop, and I had previously earned a special treat for a well completed math lesson.  Hannah is Aren’s and Sarah’s eight year old daughter.  My parents and I are all having fun hanging out with the family and the other guests, boating in the afternoon, and enjoying the wonders of Patagonia.

Aren, Sarah and Hannah are a friendly family frolicking in the beauty and spirt of Patagonia.  Aren is a river guide and Sarah is a massage therapist, both drawn together by their love for kayaking.  About ten years ago, they bought a big chunk of land which they cleared using the least amount of gas and fossil fuels as possible.  They created a lodge for boaters and friends alike.  Still in love with the amazing food and country of there home State of New Mexico, they decided to spend half the year in Chile and half in New Mexico.  Hannah is mature for her age and loves to do all the things that I do.  Every day we play card games, hang out in our secret fort, draw, and enjoy many other fun activities. 

Aren and Sarah have been helping me improve my boating skills and the improvement is spectacular.  Today, we practiced rolls, ferrying, eddy turns, and stern squirts, all in turbulent water.  A stern squirt is a trick involving pushing the stern of one’s boat underwater while the bow comes shooting up.  We practiced on a fair sized rapid with boiling, small eddies crashing up against rocks on either side.  We did the rolls and the stern squirts at the bottom of the rapid, but ferried and worked on eddy turns in the fray of the gnarly part of the rapid.  I normally am intimidated by the big water, but today I felt great!  I had one combat roll (accidental roll) and really made a great jump in my eddy turns.    

(Photo by Mom)
(Photo by Mom)
Patagonia is a legendary region in southern Chile and Argentina, known for its beauty and its magical peaks.  Towering over the lodge, is a high mountain with spiky peaks.  The mountain slopes up and eventually comes to three pointy panicles called the Three Nuns.  This is just one of the amazing features of Patagonia.  Patagonia is home to hundreds of blue rivers, many of which have made their way to fame. The Futaleufu is an enormous class V river attracting boaters from all over the world.  It is three to ten times as big as the Colorado River running through the Grand Canyon.  Also, Patagonia is covered in vast and endless farmland.  What a place.

Today, I boated with Aren and Sarah, hung out with Aren, Sarah, Hannah, and the other guests, and enjoyed Patagonia.  I hope tomorrow is as good!

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!