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Packrafting with Kokopelli

This start of the year has been intense, trying out the new Kokopelli packrafts. (Green the boat ride, red the jungling, and orange the packrafting)

In 2016 with the team of ESPN Adventure we tried to go through the valdivian forest with traverse kayaks to reach a lake. We failed. Miserably.

Fast forward two years and we got the chance to have a rematch, with a big, BIG change. Instead of regular, rigid and heavy kayaks we’d go with packrafts. Meaning we only had to worry about our backpacks.

Before doing this we decided to test the pacrrafts closer to home, in Bariloche, were we decided to to the hole circumnavigation of the highest mountain around, the Mt. Tornador were we’d need to float down the Rio blanco and cross the lake Todos Los Santos. Having been extremely successful we moved on to the more ambitious idea.

The plan (and execution) was to be left in a small bay by a boat in the Pillan Fjord, in Chile. From there, we’d walk about 4 miles of the thickest Valdivian Jungle to reach the Trebol (“Clover”) lake, then in between we’d have a small lagoon of half a mile to row through, and from there back to the sea via the Tic Toc River.

The jungle was.. harsh, even though there’s nothing in particular dangerous about it, no deadly insects, animals or plants it was extremely dense and slippery, with fallen trees and huge boulders, with everything grown onto it, so sometimes we’d be walking seveal feet in the air without realizing it. And you definitely don’t want to break a leg there.

The first section, up until the lagoon, we were with high energy and progressed “fast” meaning, about quarter of a mile per hour, yes, that is going fast in such a dense and hard navigation jungle.

We made it there on the morning of the second day having used the machete quite a lot, in the jungle we inflated the packrafts, and then, climbing some branches (no beaches here) were able to jump in and row through it. The rowing was short lived and on the other side we had to deflate and continue the walk on a muddy swamp.

This second section was more frustrating by the waist deep cold water, thick branches and later harder to navigate with dense “caña colihue” (bamboo type cane). Certainly the big annoying horseflies didn’t help in keeping our cool.

Luckily in the afternoon we made it to the lake, and rowing just for half an hour we were in the only coast we were able to find, baptized “arrowhead” by it’s shape.

A good rest, and a good fire to dry our clothes and the next day we were refueled to continue, even though we woke up to a light and constant rain, but it was to be expected in one of the wettest parts of the world.

We crossed the “El Trebol” lake in about three hours (getting here is definitely very hard to access, pretty much the only way is by hydroplane, going up the river, or as we did it), no wind and a soft rain made it a beautiful scenery. We got to the Tic Toc river, were we found our first rapids and where the packrafts performed surprisingly well! When we saw a nice open beach, we decided to stay, as we were in no hurry.

The next day we woke up to clear skies and continued down the river, having a couple more rapids witch we enjoyed and were Pablo -the expert in kayaks- playing around with the eddies and rapids pushed his limits a bit too far and went over! Even though the water was glacial cold he came out of the water with a smile (and his things inside the backpack were in watertight bags -phew!-).

We got to the sea were we did our final camp and from where we’d be picked up the next day. So we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and good fueguito (little fire) completely relaxed knowing we had been successful in such an arduous adventure.

The final morning we rowed through the breaking waves to make the maneuver onto the boat easier and we got to La Rosita II (Pinky the second) with no problems, deflated the packrafts, and off we went