Chris Baer: Florian Road Trip - Pt. 1
Paddling with the kids.
The adventure continues; one group leaves, another shows up, the group dynamics change again. Some for the better, some for the worse, but always entertaining. My latest adventure to the Florian and Gol Gol was with an extremely young group of paddlers. The group consisted of Kyle Hull, age 20, Jake Greenbaum, age 21, Steven Forester, age 18, and my self, Chirs Baer at age 31.
With a big age and experience difference you know there’s going to be some major differences in group dynamics. With as much deference as there was, we have in common something much more important: we are all good paddlers and we were going to tackle some great rivers.
We rented another truck, this time from Rodrigo Tuschner, (Rodrigo is the active partner and face of Kayak Pucon). The fact that we just rented a kayak vehicle made me a little nervous (kayakers aren’t known for their meticulous vehicles). My suspicious about the vehicle were confirmed immediately when the rest of the team brought the truck over to the coffee house. The first things the crew said was that Rodrigo said “don’t be going over 90k, check the oil, and don’t ruin my shit”.
So the journey began all four of us piled in the truck and rallied at 90 kph for four hours. We stopped for gas and the truck didn’t start after we filled it. So, we simply push started the truck again and were on our way. Once we got to the Florian, I strategically parked the truck so we could easily roll start it down a good sized hill.
Once at the Florian we started our hike in, crossed the bridge and put on. This time on the Florian, the gauge was reading 45 cm, 10 cm less water than the last time we were on the Florian. Immediately, I knew that 50 footer was going to kick a little more, and the double drop might be runnable. We headed into the canyon and ran the first fun drop, everyone had smooth lines.
Jake in the first rapid
Steven boofing through the first rapid
Then as we were headed through some in-between class 4+ Kyle got pinned, pinned bad. His whole boat was under water, I was only feet away but unable to help. I had immediate thoughts of bad accidents I had been around before, but Kyle was wasting no time. Kyle was fighting hard, pushing off of rocks squirming around, and plan old “givin’r hell”. Quickly the water surged, the boat shifted and the water was curtaining right over Kyle’s head. It was at this point Kyle finally decided to get out of his boat. Kyle was very calm and precise about his movements. He got his knees up, and in one motion stood up in his cockpit and jumped into the pool below. A few minutes later Kyle was able to reach into the drop and unpin his boat. Once again we were on our way.
Kyle and his nasty pin rapid
The next drop is the double drop that we portaged the last time I was in the canyon. This time it was looking a little less scary and one by one we decided to fire it up. There was a myriad of lines from Jake’s far left, to my far right, Kyle’s underwater, and Steven’s over rotating. Everyone was treated to a different experience, and everyone was ecstatic to run a truly difficult rapid.
Jake slipping into the melee
Kyle boofing the 20 ft exit drop
Steven over rotating off the bottom 20
Next rapid up is a fun 20 ft slide everyone bombed down, which brought us to the 50 footer. Like I had said in a previous article, this 50 footer is not clean. There are flakes of rock the whole way down the drop looking to grab your boat, and flip, tip, or just slam you around. The group was solid, everyone came over the lip and rode the drop “proud” (sitting tall in your boat and anticipating the unexpected).
Riding proud gives you the best chance of correcting what ever those flakes in the drop decide to do to you, this time. Everyone dealt with thee bounces and had relatively smooth lines with low impacts at the bottom. From the base of the 50 footer it is just another couple hundred feet to the take out.
Steven in the depths riding proud
The take out trail SUCKS, it is at a 70 degree pitch, is all loose mud and rock, and covered in bamboo shoots that get tangled in everything. Once on top of the ridge we tried a different technique to get back to the truck. We hiked river right up a old road to the bridge we put in on, across the bridge and back down to the truck. This route is definitely the better option. With this less brutal hiking option, my overall rating of this run has now been greatly improved. So if you are looking for a park and hike and stout hucking and then a decent hike back, this is actually a damn good run.
Please remember there are hot-spri ngs at the put in, they cost a little money and be nice to the land owner, the access here could easily be taken away.
After the Florian the truck started and we went to another park and huck. The water was too high and we tried to leave, this time the truck didn’t start. We tried push starting it, and we tried again, and again, and we had pushed the car the better part of a mile. During this process I popped the hood and found one of the positive leads had come loose, with trusty multi tool and gorilla tape in hand I got the lead jimmied back on. The truck still didn’t start. Finally a guy gave us a hand by towing the truck, and after two minutes with the clutch out if finally fired up.
Our truck broken down in the middle of the road
We were on our way again, this time to the Gol Gol. As we drove it got late, and started raining. We were approaching the Gol Gol, at two in the morning, and it became apparently clear we needed sleep. I started starring out the window and then I saw it, a little covered bus stop with just enough room for two of us to sleep under. We slept in the stinky wet and slug infested bus stop, for a few hours and then headed to the Gol Gol. When we arrived at the Gol Gol, we were tired, hungry, and putting on soaking wet gear. We were about to have a great day.
Chris Baer hungry, homeless and happy in Chile.