Gap: A magical week on the Futa River.

What a wet (but wonderful) week! We are currently back at Las Natalias in Futaleufú decompressing from a once-in-a-lifetime experience on a world renowned river, the Futaleufú. 

Brett here! One thing that I find really amazing about this experience is all the different kinds of expeditions we are having. This past river week was a very “front” country compared to other expeditions. We had a lot more luxury this expedition with a van carrying our packs and food. This meant we got to bring more every day and exciting foods! Such as loads of desserts, milk cartons, bread, and cereal. Typically we bring more compact and hiker-friendly foods. While this crew cooks really wonderful meals both in the front and backcountry, my favorite meal of the week was Sophia and Lily’s black bean burgers (Kosi and Nora were the helpers)!

Sophia here! Getting to know Futa, even more, was one of the most amazing parts of this trip. Life here revolves around the river, and experiencing that power and getting to know so many people who call this place home was incredible. You can really feel the love everyone has for this place, and the river’s beauty made it hard not to feel ourselves. Our guides and safety boaters were from all over the world, and we were shocked by the amount of support we had every day: two catarafts, three kayakers, three camera-men, along with our three amazing raft guides. Brett and I were both in the same boat this week with Lydia, Lily, and Alex with our guide, Jorge. He was so kind and enjoyed hearing all of our chismé. 

We spent our first two nights at a lovely campsite by the river. One of the nicest parts about this campsite was access to the veggie garden and a nice hut. We were all very excited to find flushing toilets there too! We spent our first day paddling the classic bridge to bridge section. After a safety briefing, we went right into some crazy rapids. We were all laughing and screaming from joy and terror. It was amazing to see how well our guides understood the river and to work as a team in a new way. The following day we rafted further down the river on a lot more flat water, where many of us got to try rowing the boat from the guide seat. In the calmer water, we had more time to enjoy the views of the glaciated peaks and the canyons we paddled through. A highlight of that day was when we went cliff jumping at the base of one of the rapids, where we were told to just run and jump into the ice-cold water! 

Brett here! After a long day of rafting, we arrived on the shore of such a lovely campsite where we stayed three nights. The couple whose campsite we stayed at, one from Norway and the other from Switzerland, were world-renowned kayakers and spent the colder months of Europe here to kayak the Futa river. The following day, we went canyoneering, something Sophia nor I had ever done before. We spent the day swimming and moving like spiders over rocks up a beautiful stream. It definitely wasn’t what we were expecting, but it turned out to be so fun. That night we arrived back at camp to enjoy a very meaningful and traditional Asada. The Asada was prepared by a nearby neighbor, Coco. He killed and prepared the lamb and roasted it above a fire for us all to enjoy along with our rafting guides and our Scandinavian hosts. While Sophia, Nora, and I are vegetarians we did each try a bite of the lamb because it was such a magical experience that we wanted to partake in. The next day, Coco led us on a hike to a beautiful waterfall. We returned back to camp for lunch, had a class discussing the controversial new road into Espolón, and spent the night enjoying a light rain. We packed up our campsite, said goodbye to our hospitable (and beautiful) hosts, and got ready for another lovely day with our Bochinche crew. 

Sophia here! This rafting day was one we’d been hearing about for a while, as we were doing some of the hardest rapids on the river. The most complex one was called Terminator. When we arrived we all got out of the raft to scout out our route beforehand. The rapid was beautiful but terrifying from above, and we were all ecstatic and giddy after we made it down safely. We hit a few more big rapids that day, but nothing compared to the feeling of making it down Terminator. We also spent some time swimming and floating down the river, which was a nice change of pace. After a beautiful day rafting, we were sad to get off the river but excited to warm up at camp. We were shocked to find out that we had a house (with beds!) to sleep and cook in. Once we settled in, many of us went to go catch a chicken for dinner. Watching everyone chase down and dive at chickens will be imprinted on my brain forever. Jorge, who grew up in this area and has a lot of knowledge about the campo lifestyle, taught us how to slaughter them. His relationship with this place and respect for the land is really beautiful to see and has made us all connect with this place in a more meaningful way. We did our final circle along on a beach next to the Futa under the stars. This was a beautiful way to spend a final few moments with the sounds of the river after such an amazing week with it. 

Brett again! Finally, we arrived at our last day on the river. The day started with the exciting news that Jorge was asked by the camera crew to flip the raft on the second rapid Mundaka. On a prior day rafting, our raft begged Jorge to flip the boat at least once during the week and the day finally arrived to flip! Amelia, Rosa, Lily, Lydia, Alex, and I all wanted to be in the boat that flipped with Jorge. We took our seats, controlled our nerves, and headed straight into Mundaka. However, Jorge was just too good and we didn’t even flip. While I was so sad, Amelia and Lydia did get thrown into the water, so it wasn’t a complete fail. Throughout the whole week, Amelia and Lydia were the only two people thrown from a raft during a rapid, which is very impressive and shows just how good our guides were. After several more exhilarating rapids, we spent the last 40 minutes of the day floating down the river, throwing each other into the river, and enjoying our last few bittersweet memories all together. During this time, I experienced so much blissfulness and gratitude to Bochinche for helping us experience the Futaleufú river in such a meaningful and intentional way. 

In conclusion, we paddled hard, laughed harder, and pushed each other into the water more times than we can count. We created a deeper bond within our group, the community who helped make it possible, and the beautiful Futaleufú river. We are both so grateful and happy to be here.

Love,

Brett and Sophia

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