Sunday, December 13, 2009

Apurimac Multi-Day, A WCKA First!

Ben, Griff and Erik Johnson on the Confluence section, Urubamba River

The Group at our home, Cola de Mono

Confluence section put-in, just downstream from camp

I believe the last blog left off midway at our stay at Colo de Mono in Santa Teresa. Basically we all enjoyed our three weeks of bugs and sick paddling on the Urubamba. We spent one rainy day on a lower-volume creek called the Upper Sacsara. We all had fun in our shiny new creek-boats.

Our last night in Santa Teresa, the group helped Gian Marco, our beloved host, build a relaxing sweat-lodge made out of sticks and plastic tarp. That night he heated boulders, to pour water on for steam, and most of the students spent several sessions sweating out our body’s toxins in an enjoyable and new experience, preparing ourselves for the long and awaited over-nighter expeditions.

Take-out at Santa Teresa...otherwise known as town recess

After a scenic canyon drive back to Cusco, we spoiled ourselves with pizza, burgers, cake, multiple cappuccinos a day, cheap hour massages and finally a nice hostile with beds and Internet. Over the next few days we prepared ourselves for the Apurimac by buying personal snacks such as chocolate bars, nuts and sausage sticks with our 45 soles (Peruvian currency) allowance and distributing the backpacker’s pantry mountain meals. We each received four dinners including any of the following; Wild West Chili, Pad Thai, Spicy Thai with Peanut Sauce, Chana Masala, Lasagna, Macaroni and Cheese, Mexican Rice with Beef, Rosotta with Chicken, and Kung Pao Chicken. Boats packed, we were ready to start our first journey.

Cody, excited to eat his meal in a bag...mmm, tasty!

Day one on the Apurimac after a three hour drive from our beloved Cusco we hiked our boats through stone arches and over piles of rubble, through a small town and onto the river. This first rapid was a little tricky and about half of the group ran it, the other half walking, not wanting to risk messing up our lines in our unfamiliar, heavily loaded creek-boats. The rest of the day consisted of some fun rapids with some technical moves accompanied by a few scouts. That night we camped at a rocky beach with a little bit of sand that we took advantage of. Students tested out their bivies and Griff and Johnson even found a rock cave to sleep under for rain protection. Kleve and I, along with Capo and Ben, fortunately didn’t have to worry about any unnecessary moisture due to our light tents that we packed along.

Filtering water on the Apurimac River

The next morning Parker woke up to a bivy full of water and realized he would have some creative work to do if the rain came again. Day two was a short and mellow day of flat-water and beautiful scenery. We made camp early at lunch and several students spent hours building “shanty’s”, what they called their rain shelters, out of bamboo and grasses in hopes of a dry night. The rest of us spent our free time setting up camp and swimming across the river to some small cliffs to jump. That night people stayed dry but we all woke up in the middle of the night to a savage and loud rockslide on top of us, caused by the rain.

A Shanty, Hopefully it Worked!

Day three was once again mellow. We spent an hour or so trying to surf a fun wave with eddy service with our loaded creek-boats. Camping on a big sandy beach, shanties were built and when darkness came around 6 p.m., so did the rain. Our pattern seemed to be going to bed around 6-6:30 and getting a good 12 hours of sleep.

Well rested, day four was our long and fun day of rapids. The canyon walls were beautiful and the sun was shining. The day consisted of pretty continuous big volume read-and-run rapids due to increase in water with the nightly rain. The dark chocolate milk colored water made it challenging to read but we were all stoked on the day and our experience as a whole!

Griff soaking in the South American sun rays!

Day five we woke up, ate our daily morning breakfast of Avena (brand of oatmeal) mixed with gorp, and paddled a few hours of flat-water to the takeout, after a stout portage, where our cargo truck driver met us. From here we made the short drive to Cusco to get ready for the Cotahuasi and prepare for our next episode full of adventures…

Words: Olin Wimberg

Photos: Susan Hollingsworth and Kristi Murrin