Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Yesso

I am in the back of the truck driving with the boys up the craziest road on the planet. To our left is a cliff and below that the Yesso creek. The road is narrow and crumbling gravel, pot holes the size of play holes. We are stopping every few minutes for our Chilean truck ritual. The truck overheats and we have to unscrew the top off the boiling radiator, dodge a shower of frothing brown scalding water and then pour in more water to cool it. It's so hot out in the desert that the truck is blowing up every mile or so and we eventually run out of water.
Good thing we were born at the right time and things generally work out in Chile, we turn a corner and find a roadside waterfall cascading down some real power. We powerwash the truck, fill all our water bottles, fill the radiator bottles, jump in and lower our body temperatures by a collective 68 degrees or so.

In the back of the car with me is Nelson, Jason, Jackson, Stephen and Lorenzo. Lorenzo and his brother Pangal, riding in the truck, are our guides for the Yesso. They are a brilliant section of the brilliant family who owns the brilliant land on the Maipo. Lorenzo at 22 once played soccer for the Chilean national team (juniors) and is now on the Chilean national rafting team. He also adventure races, speed climbs, kayaks, and boxes. Everything he does, at one point or another he did it professionally. Including smile:
His brother, Pangal is also guiding us. And by us I mean the boys, because I don't paddle creeks like the upper Yesso. Pangal and Lorenzo are two stars in this crazy constellation of a family that owns land on the Maipo, Trancura and Futa, carves mansions out of mountainsides and fights against power companies hell bent on damns with bow and arrows. I am speaking in pure literal terms right now. Here is Pangal:
We drive and drive and drive....if you haven't noticed I don't know how to write any more but I will give you some visuals. It is hot but not unbearably so because of the wind going by in the back of the truck.

So then we get there, after all the explosions and the waterfalls and the redhead smile meteor showers. We unload the trailer and the boys get ready to meet the Upper Yesso.

And then they headed down the cliff:

and then David and I drove the truck down the desert mountain with the mangy goats chewing irrigated grass all over the place, but this time the truck didn't just explode every mile or so, but this time the whole rig broke in two and the trailer flew off the truck and drove itself into the hillside. We had to dig it out. It was hot under the sun and there was a group of students who had paddled the lower Maipo who were waiting for us to pick them up on the banks of that brown river, many miles away. So while the Yesso boys are pounding down miles and miles of continuous class 4/5 rapids:

David and I are back to the same old routine:

only this time, it's more interesting:

Thankfully there were no boats on the trailer, only a bunch of random gear and paddles, which we transferred into the truck. And then we had not choice but to lock up the trailer the best we could and leave it behind, for now. By the way, the trailer was built by master woodsman builder and blacksmither Serjio, also the father of Pangal and Lorenzo. This trailer will be rescued and will be with New River forever.

But for now, we've got one group of students with boats baking on the banks of the Maipo 15 miles away, and in three hours, a dozen very exhausted creek warriors and all their gear and boats will be waiting at the take out of the Yesso. And tomorrow, 19 of us and all our gear and all our boats have to get to Santiago to catch a flight back to the US.

And for all this, we've gone one pick up truck. Life is never boring.

No comments: