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January 11, 2011

Resupply, rest, and a few good feeds in Puerto Cisnes

Greetings from Puerto Cisnes!

After consulting with the locals, Beck and I found a wonderful little hospedaje with great home cooking and a corner room with a view of the sea.  We're in town gathering 30 days of food for the next leg of the trip to Tortel.  The last 20 days or so have been filled with varied and challenging paddling along with a few days of just cruising along under the sun and mountains.  Our weather has been nothing short of miraculous, only 7 days of rain in the last 20!  Whoever is donating their good karma to our cause, thank you!

Our route from Achao has taken us across the Gulf of Corcovado through a chain is islands called the Deserter`s Group.  We then headed south along the coast and spent a few weather-bound days in Caleta Santa Barbara on a beautiful black sand beach which we shared with the local vacas (cows).  Christmas Day found us itching to be on our way and we launched through surf at the first sign of the wind decreasing.  This turned into only a lull and we found ourselves in "big conditions" (our definition) and following seas while rounding a point into the town Chaiten.  We were right on the edge of our comfort zone, but had the safety of a relatively friendly lee shore, thus giving us a bailout if needed.  (We also provided some entertainment for the local Carabineros who stopped their truck on shore to watch us battle around the corner and out of sight.  I can only imagine their conversation, " los gringos locos!")  We made a poor choice to launch that day, but Patagonia gave us the lesson for free as a Christmas gift.

Camp at Caleta Santa Barbara

A wrecked section of Chaiten

Volcan Chaiten smoking in background left
The town of Chaiten is a modern day ghost town.  Briefly, in 2008 the Chaiten Volcano erupted and buried a good deal of the town in ash.  The city of 4,000 people (the regional capital at the time) was in the midst of rebuilding when the volcano erupted again and trashed the place a second time.  The government declared the townsite unsafe and began a relocation effort while suspending all services in the city.  Now Chaiten is home to about 200 souls who live by their own means, they are truly urban homesteaders relying on generators for power and wood and propane for cooking and heating in homes along paved streets lined with lamp posts.  Truly a surreal place.  We were lucky and surprised to find, on Christmas Day, a restaurant open and serving wonderful fish, salad, and cerveca to wandering sea kayakers.   ¡VIVE CHAITEN!

Christmas Dinner
South of Chaiten came the open coast of the Gulf of Corcovado.  This section proved to be cruxy due to the rocky and steep coast combined with ocean swell and surf.  We spent a good five days launching and landing in breaking waves.  Our weather was excellent, sunny, but with howling southerlies that tended to crank every afternoon, but sometimes by 9 am.  We began waking at 4 am in order to get our paddling done by noon.

"Bigger than it looks." Scoping the surf.

Mt. Corcovado.  Some days have been a honeymoon!

One reward for getting through was peaceful Bahia Tictoc with its sheltered black sand beaches and tranquil shores.  After a week of camping with the roar of surf in our ears it was wonderful to camp next to quiet lapping waves next to a sea pretending to be a lake. Ahh!
Tictoc Sunrise
Bahia Tictoc

Entering Canal Refugio

Not long from Tictoc we entered Canal Refugio and experienced our first real "inside" paddling, finally experiencing the fjords for which Patagonia is so famous.  We were surprised at Puerto Domingo to run into a family of four in two double kayaks.  Rachel is the new branch director for NOLS Patagonia and has just relocated to Coyhaique with her husband and two sons.  Thanks guys for letting us share the last evening of your vacation!  
Pto Santo Domingo.  (Thanks for the photo Rachel!)

A couple of days north of Cicnes we took a day to detour north of our route to visit the Termas de Puyuhuapi, Chile`s "premier 5-star hot springs resort."  We dropped $85 US on a soak and lunch for two and it was worth every single penny!  The architecture of the place is truly amazing and the lodge emerges from the back of a small cove like something out of Tolkien.  Spectacular.

We`ve budgeted a little more than 30 days for the next section of the trip.  We'll paddle south to Laguna San Rafeal where we will portage 1.5 miles (UGH!) into the upper Rio San Todeo which leads to the Golfo de Penas, our most open section of coast.  Thence around the corner into Canal Baker and east to Tortel.  How hard could it be?  Ha!  My journal entry from 12/26 likely predicts the future.  Written after a particularly strenuous day, it reads, "Patagonia.  The ass kicking that just keeps on kicking ass."

Of course, that is partly what we came for. 

Thanks for all your comments, well-wishes, and positive energy.  Depending on battery power, we`ll likely post a few times via sat phone on this next section, so stay tuned!

-Nick and Becky  


karel said...

Thanks for the info ,feels like a great trip

Heather said...

Amazing! I can't tell you how much I love the updates!!! I do wonder what the locals think of you guys when you come off the sea? Do they get many vistors from the sea? Stay well and you two are more than welcome to any of the Karma you need from me!!

Anonymous said...

Read about you in the Dutch newspaper today. Beautiful pictures, must be a very exciting trip for the both of you. Come home safely and have much fun! Caroleyne

Anonymous said...

Hi! Received your message about books and have ordered them. I will let you know when they are enroute. Love the blog and the great photos. Looks like another great adventure to add to all of the others. Travel well.
Love, Mom