© 2009 Adam Johnson

Chile Update 4 of 4: Tour de Stout…

Jared Seiler Running Princessa on the Gol Gol River.
My final week in Chile proved to be one of the best sets of creekboating that I can remember. In three days, we ran the Middle Palguin Stout (~70′), the Gol Gol (with the 45′ to finish), and Nilahue Falls (60′ ramp drop). Not bad for 3 days.
Ben Kinsella runs the Middle Palguin Stout 70′. Photo Patt Rogers
We didn’t actually plan on doing all of these drops in this sequence. The days before we had talked of traveling and such; however, we remained in Pucon. On New Years Day we decided to go and run the Upper Palguin 3x and noticed that we were going to be able to get into the gate to see the Middle Palguin Stout, normally gaurded by construction workers. Team Marginal and I checked it out and, through some sort of illogical deduction, decided we were going to run it the following day. Being New Years day after a slight bender the previous night, I shrugged it off and then waited to see what was going to happen the following day. Indeed, it was no smack talk.
Bradford McArthur scouting the Middle Palguin on New Years Day.
Bradford McArthur mid stout, January 2nd, 2009.
The Compilation. Paddler: Adam Johnson. Photo: Patt Rogers
And so began the Tour de Stout. The following morning we were greeted by the Garcia brothers and Demshitz ready to rally to the Gol Gol river, about 4 hours south-east of Pucon. The Gol Gol is very much pool drop in style and has about 7 signifigant drops ranging from 15′-45′ tall.
El Rio Gol Gol:
Jared Seiler (Demshitz!) runs the first drop on the Gol Gol.
Ben Kinsella boofs a Wonder Falls-esque (Big Sandy, WV) drop on the Gol Gol.
Jared Seiler charges through a slot on the Gol Gol.
The drop pictured above was this like 3′-4′ drop between two boulders and onto a shelf, then off another 8 footer. Demshitz, being from WV, didn’t enjoy this one as much; however, Evan said he liked this drop. I was indifferent. You rode into the approach, boofed into some mawl, then felt a sharp thud when you smacked the shelf, and then plugged out of the bottom drop. Toro, our friendly German compadre, cut out the wood from the right channel and later ran that side…
Toro runs the right-side boofs.
Evan Garcia looks at the drop from below.
Bradford goes nose over stern for the Rio Gol Gol.
Ben Kinsella below Princessa Falls, Gol Gol River.
So, after Princessa, you paddle through some flatwater and come upon another horizonline. The river funnels right and there is a large shelf to get out on and scout Cara del Indio, a 45′ drop that takes you deep!
The lip of Indio Falls.
Standing at the lip of Indio, you can only see about 20′ down–the rest dissapears under folds of water. The line is to go just to the right of the rock on river left (pictured above). If you hit the line, the river will fold on top of you and you will go to China! On this day, people were averaging about 4-6 honest seconds of downtime after running the falls. Everyone said they felt their boats do a rocking motion when resurfacing. Some lost their paddles and others had skirts implode. Apparently, Clay Wright and Brennan Guth first decented this thing back in the day. Certainly a ballsy one to huck first…
Patt Rogers fires this off 2nd after Ian. Yeah bud!
Indio from below. Evan Garcia taking it to China! Notice how everything folds into itself.
Adam Johnson chasing off Indio, a bit right at the lip. Like Ian, I didn’t go as deep.
Salto Nilahue is much like a 60′ rolling ramp. It has about 40ish feet of ramp with about 20′ of vertical. Additionally, the pool at the bottom has a gnarly cave with lots of water pushing into it (back center of above photo). Unlike the other two drops in this Tour de Stout, you wanted to hold onto your paddle for this one due to the undercut.
Scouting Nilahue from the Overlook. Team Marginal, Demshitz Garcia, and BC Ricky contemplating running the stout.
Jared Seiler (Demshitz!) scouting from the top.
The Lip of Nilahue.
One of the coolest things about Nilahue is that there is absolutely no warm up. You can see the eddy that one starts in (2 photos above) on river right. You push yourself off some bedrock into the current, peel out with a bow draw, convert that into another stroke or rudder, and tuck… blam! You’re at the bottom.
Nilahue Panorama. Notice the eddy positioned slightly above the green bush in this shot.
Bradford checking out the drop from the lip.
Jared Seiler peels out (1)
Jared drops in (2).
Ian Garcia greasing the line.
Adam Johnson in the 1,000 yard tuck, seconds before breaking my paddle. Photo: Patt Rogers
Ben Kinsella summing up the feeling…
If you have seen Mission: Epicocity, I believe it was LJ who ran this before Nilahue looked like this. It changed some years ago from a stout ~40 footer into a 20′ drop. LJ ran this thing super high at the end of the trailer and boofed the crap out of the top 40′ and dissapeared into the mawl. …anyway, that was this drop back in the day. After it changed, Ian Garcia and Rodrigo Tushner first decented what you see here.
So, after this Tour de Stout, we returned to Pucon whereupon I spent the remainder of my time before I flew out. Team Marginal and Jared went to Argentina and ran the Escondito and Alerces (see there blog HERE). I was jealous but could not go with them.
After taking a 10 hour overnight bus from Pucon to Central Station and then to the Airport, I waited another 10 hours before flying out. If anyone is wondering, the bus ticket is the way to travel to meet up with people. It cost about $35 and they took your kayak for another $3-$4. Just make sure that thing is under 8’7″ because their compartments below the bus for luggage are not that long and it becomes harder (although not impossible) to take a kayak. I flew down with United and got my kayak and paddle (in a boat bag) on the plane for free (together under 50lbs, December 2008). That was a miracle that I do not expect to get again. Others flew with American Airlines and some Canadian airline (Air Canada maybe?) and had varying degrees of success; however, all had to pay a fee. This just goes to show that it all depends on the person who checks you in and how you act with them. Flying with a kayak article HERE.
Now I am back in WV for another semester looking out my window to pure white and sub-freezing temperatures. Big shout outs go to: Evan, Ian, and Mike Garcia. Jared Seiler. Rodrigo Tuschner and Emma Passi at Kayak Pucon. Team Marginal members Ben, Patt, and Bradford. Miguel Shields, the Portugese crew, Jorge and all the other Pucon friends and anyone else that I cannot think of–Cheers!
Until next round (which will probably be next winter for Chile),
-Adam Johnson


  1. Fred Norquist
    Posted January 22, 2009 at 12:46 am | #

    hell yeah aj, good to see you got some stouting in after our surfed days, see ya in an eddy sometime, Fred

  2. RiotAJ
    Posted February 15, 2009 at 9:56 pm | #


    Yea bud. Got to get some good boating in for sure. I am headed out west this summer and if I am in CO I will be sure to look you up. Cheers,


  3. Let's go rafting! -Will Volpert
    Posted February 18, 2009 at 11:07 am | #

    Nice photos…

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