chile

Canyoning Dream Come True - DreamsCo

   

I love to rappel. My brother brought me when I was thirteen and ever since I've enjoyed being on a harness, attached to a rope, and whizzing down a mountainside. I've been down into Moaning Cavern outside of Yosemite hanging among the stalactite and stalagmites. But there was one thing I'd always wanted to try - rappelling down a waterfall.

I got my chance in Futaleufu, Chile. A local single mom runs a great little outfit right out the back of her house. She handed me and two other guys wetsuits, helmets, and harnesses and then we took off through the thick wilderness. We stepped over a barbed wired fence, crossed a stream, climbed a hill, and we were there - on top of a waterfall.Copy of S, America 172

She attached the ropes, showed us how to lean out over the waterfall, and the first round she placed a secondary safety rope to ensure we didn't go too fast.

The adrenaline began to pump as I threaded my figure eight attached to my harness. The first step is always the scariest part of rappelling. You have to lean your butt back into the air and sit - well there's nothing to sit on - but you have to let the harness support you while your hips are at a 90 degree angle. This is easy on rocks, but when water is rushing all around your feet and the rocks are slippery, it becomes a bit more intense.Copy of S, America 180

I leaned back and began to let the rope slowly slide through my hands. The rush of the waterfall pounded beside me and over my legs. The spray covered my face and I laughed with excitement as I felt the water's power. In the past I'd sat under a small waterfall  for a few seconds and realized it hurt as the water slapped my head and I couldn't breathe or see. It wasn't the greatest experience. This was different. This was a pure adrenaline rush as I played in the water and descended into the pool below.

We spent the entire afternoon descending different cliffs and waterfalls in this beautiful area while sliding in mud as we made our way through the forest. It was a day I'll never forget and one I hope to repeat.Copy of S, America 223

Rafting the Futaleufu - DreamsCo

I can hear the rush of the river as I stand by the aqua water. Mountains rise up around me, some with snow still on their peaks. I'm here, in Futaleufu, and a part of me still can't believe it. I've never seen a place so beautiful, untouched, and a part of my heart feels like I've come home - like I belong in this place.

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I pull on a wetsuit, the water coming straight from the snowpack is cold, and if I end up swimming it's my only protection from hypothermia. In truth, this water is warmer than the American River in California and the heat of the day is brutal. One the wetsuit is on, I jump in and float for awhile letting the water cool me off.

Then we're in the boat and I'm front paddle. Three men and myself along with a guide. We go through the safety practices, falling out of the boat, being rescued by the kayaks and our fellow rafters. Christian our guide explains that the water is very high from recent rain and snowmelt, and Futaleufu doesn't have slow pools. Instead, it runs fast, hard, with large holes that eat boats and spits them out.

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And then we're in it. Powering down the mighty river, paddling hard through massive waves. Think the Perfect Storm kind of waves but in a raft instead of a boat (okay maybe not that big, but in that raft it feels like it). I try to paddle, but the boat is up so high above the bottom of the wave that my paddle catches water instead of air. Then a wave is splashing over me and I'm screaming with joy. It's a rush like no other - nature at it's finest beauty and power and me on its wild ride.

 

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When Christian does pull us into an eddy to explain the next rapid, I stare at the beauty around me. Far away from the craziness of regular life, I feel wrapped in mother nature's heart beat. Serenity fills me and I realize that there are companies out there who desire to dam this beautiful river for profit. For years, the town of Futaleufu and the few N. American rafting companies who run trips five months out of the year, have fought the corporations and government trying to protect this gem. But Futaleufu is tiny, barely anyone lives in this town. Many in the area still live a simple life of farming in this beautiful valley without the need for the outside world. Internet access is available in town, and they have a beautiful school, but life is simple here.

If they dam this river like so many others in the world what will it do to this amazing area. Are we willing to sacrifice our earth, the sanctuaries left, for a few to profit?

And then the boat is taking off again, plunging into waves, running past those huge holes, and I 'm alive, happy, and prayerful that this place will never be harmed.

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