Rafting on the Rio Puelo- Grace Hibshman

Alzar School | 19.03.14

When we spent time camping in Andes mountains on the Rio Puelo, we took one day to explore a class III/IV section of the river. We had taken two long drives and a ferry ride to get to the desired camping location on the river. We camped only a few hundred feet away from the insanely blue water of the river for two days, but had not yet gotten to explore it. The day we went down the river was a very much anticipated day, since we had been paddling the same section on the Rio Fuy for the past two weeks.

I woke up on the morning of the river run, to the Caribbean blue waters flowing past our tent calling my name to jump in with the current. The most difficult part of the day was sitting through all of our daily classes next to the incredible river. Throughout the day leading up to the river, everyone worked together in order to prepare for the river. Some people pumped up the inflatable raft, kayak, and Shredder. By the time school was over, everyone was ready in their paddling gear. Without hesitation, everyone grabbed their kayak or inflatable, and carried them down to the ‘put in.’

Once everyone had gotten in the kayaks, and inflatables we started down the river. I was in the raft with Jeff, Brewer, and Ale for the first portion of the river, which was flat water. Just before entering the canyon, everyone eddied out to prepare for the rapids ahead inside the canyon walls. Jeff switched into a hardshell kayak, so Dawn could go in the raft since she is a less experienced kayaker. The first rapid was all the water from the wide river, compressing into a small canyon. Most of the current flowed towards the canyon wall. Not enough to slam us against the wall, but we got very close to the steep canyon wall. Between the first and the second rapid, the raft fell very far behind the kayakers. So when the raft went down the second rapid we had no line to follow. Dawn, Brewer, Ale, and I made the decision to go down the left side of the large rock in the middle of the river. Little did any of us know that there was an enormous hole on the other side of the pour over. Once we were in the hole, we reached the point where we were not moving at all, which throughly confused me. All my confusion subsided once all four of us were bucked out of the raft, and into the deceivingly frigid light blue water. We all got to safety easily, but the swirly quick current didn’t make it as easy on all the other boaters waiting on us. Almost immediately after all the rafters got to shore the inflatable kayak flipped, dumping Darby and Jordan in the water. After everyone was resettled back in their boats, we continued down the river through a few more rapids which included the rapid we heard we were destined to flip on.  Numerous rafts that run this rapid flip, even commercial rafts. Knowing this made me anxious to go down the rapid, but super excited at the same time. As we started to plunge through the rapid, we came to the bottom of a gigantic wave and all of us in the raft were uncontrollably laughing at its massive size. Somehow, through laughter or actual navigation of the rapid, we managed to make it through the rapid without flipping or losing anyone. At the end of the rapid we all looked at each other in amazement, and disbelief.

Rio Puelo Rio Puelo 1