Colorful duplex and garden, Orsono, Chile. Please click the image to view a larger version of the photo.
I’m depressed. I just watched “Manufactured Landscapes”, (2006) and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do. It’s a pretty intense documentary, featuring amazing photography by Edward Burtynsky. Burtynsky creates some powerful imagery of some of the most unlikely subjects – largely industrial wasteland. Coal mines, dams, factories (the opening shot shows the inside of a factory over three quarters of a kilometer long), parking lots, construction sites, destruction sites, you name it. It’s compelling stuff – the beauty in his photos is moving, yet discomforting. The reality he brings to the viewer is a bit overwhelming; this stuff IS our world, today.
The film is set in China, largely, though the narration points out that this industrial development is global; almost all of the products being pieced together in factories throughout China consist of raw materials shipped in from around the globe, then shipped back off to meet demand overseas. The stark reality here is that China’s environmental problem is our problem; insatiable demand from the “developed” world is altering not just the landscape, but the land itself. Continue reading →
Waterfalls, Baker River, Rio Baker, Patagonia, Chile. Click the thumbnail to see a larger version.
“How many rivers do we have to cross, Before we can talk to the boss, eh?” – Bob Marley, “Burnin and Lootin'”.
Today, Feb 6th, 2010, is the 65th anniversary of Bob Marley’s birthday. Bob is one of my highest musical heroes, and this tune, of all his great songs, is probably the one that I love the most. So, in honor of the great Bob Marley, here’s a version of his classic ‘Redemption Song‘ that I recorded a few years back with my friend Steve on vocals.
I thought this photo would be a fitting accompaniment. This photo is of the waterfall on the Baker River, beginning of a series of Class 5 and Class 6 rapids through an unbelievable canyon. Continue reading →
Here’s another image from Chile, the Futaleufu River. This rapid is called ‘Casa de Piedra’, which translates in English as ‘House of Rock’. See that big huge boulder smack in the middle of the river? The one with 4 small trees growing on top of it. THAT’S the rock. It’s huge – I’ll try to dig up an image that might give a sense of scale here – the rock is easily bigger than a regular house – a huge boulder that crashed down to the valley floor centuries ago, and now resides in the Futaleufu River.
Casa de Piedra is a Class V rapid, and a really technical run. Guides would often not let some guests run the river, if they weren’t strong enough paddlers – once you enter the rapid, from just upstream and to the left of the rock (which would be ‘river right’, facing downstream), it’s a non-stop run for over 200 yards of holes and waves and pour-overs. Usually we’d stop a few miles upstream, and decide who wanted to go on, and if they were up to it. If we cold round up a boat full of people, they’d consolidate into one or 2 rafts, and head off downstream. The last few miles were pretty sweet whitewater, with Más o Menos (‘More or Less), a huge wave train of Class IV and V water, some smaller rapids, and then Casa – the wickedest rapid on the lower Continue reading →
I’m sure you’ve heard of the volcano eruption in Chile this last week – down at Chaiten, a massive eruption has devastated the towns of Chaiten and nearby Futaleufu – ash up to 12 inches deep covers much of Futaleufu. Geologists say the volcano hasn’t erupted in nearly 10 000 years. The volcano is still erupting, a week after the initial explosion, and wind is carrying the ash and dust east and over the town of Futaleufu. The poor little coastal town of Chaiten has been totally rocked, and Futaleufu is hurting – so far all but a few people have left town. A National Geographic vulcanologist has said this particular type or eruption is the worst kind, and could easily continue for months. Continue reading →
Here’s another from the Rio Baker – at the end of the first canyon, which is 5 enormous rapids over 2 miles, there’s a flatwater section, and then just down from the take-out spot is a big playwave. We bought an extra kayak, a smaller playboat, just for this one wave. You’d never want to run a river the size of the Baker in such a small boat, unless you’re a kayaker with world-class crazy skills – a bigger volume boat is what you need for running such big rapids. But, once down at the playwave, those big boats aren’t as handy for doing tricks and surfing, like this small Wave Sport ZG playboat. Being smaller and less volume, the boat is more maneuverable, and in the hands of someone like Santiago Ibanez, from Peru, it rocks and rolls with ease. Santiago’s a great fella, a helluva great kayaker, and he guides on the Futaleufu River when he’s not in Peru.
By the way, if you haven’t read my earlier blogs on the Baker, the river is scheduled to be dammed in the coming year. Hopefully enough activism and enough demonstrations will stop that from happening. For more information, visit these pages:
Simpler times indeed. Last year at this time I was in the Andes Mountains with some good friends, on a trip to the Rio Baker, or Baker River, Patagonia, Chile. A series of insane Class 5 and 6 rapids make this one of the biggest whitewater kayaking runs in the world. This is the first of the 4 rapids, a cool drop over a waterfall. This kayaker is my friend from Futaleufu, Chilean native Memo, who’s real name is Guillermo – we just called him Memo. It was his first time on a river this size, and he paddled it with aplomb. I’m hoping to get back down to Chile maybe next winter and revisit some old friends and places. We’ll see if that happens.
Here’s my first attempt to bring an mp3 (Dad, that’s an audio file) online.
I have no idea if this will work. This is a tune I recorded with a few friends of mine years ago, for an album a group of John Hiatt fans recorded, called We Love The Jerk. The album is named, tongue-in-cheek, after one of his songs called “She Loves the Jerk”. Each person who wanted to recorded a song, and submitted it to the group, where the compilation was put together, including a cool album cover, and CDs shipped out to the John Hiatt fan club. Kind of a fun little project.
This tune is me playing guitars, my good friend Steve F playing bass, Steve Lusk singing his a** off, Chip Lunsford playing drums and Randy Hoexter playing piano. Randy recorded it at his studio. I really need to get in and do some more recording/writing and get some tunes online — maybe that’s another project I should finish. The song, Slow Turning, is the title track on John Hiatt’s “Slow Turning” album .. one of his best efforts, IMO. Definitely check out that album.
The photo is a friend of mine, Nate, way down in Futaleufu, Chile, right now, about to run the 3rd rapid of the Baker River, or Rio Baker – big, big water. Nate got smashed! 🙂
Sometimes we’d run a full river trip down the Futaleufu instead of the more common “Bridge to Bridge” section, which is the standard day-trip, about 12km of solid whitewater. On the full river section, we’d usually make it an overnighter, and enjoy the flatwater runs between the various sections of whitewater. Halfway along the trip is this killer place to go rock jumping. A nice sunny day, a deep, flat pool of water and a high ledge made for great fun for everyone. You’ll notice Gabby in the orange Jackson kayak just downstream, in position in case anyone got hurt jumping and needed some assistance. As always, safety first.
I’m a little tired, so I’ll make this brief. This image is of a rock form called “Cara del Indio”, which translates to english as “Face of the Indian” – because the rock form resembles the profile of face of a wizened old Indian; the native people of this area were the Mapuche, who were mostly wiped out by the Spanish Conquistadors. The word “Futaleufu” by the way, is a Mapuche word that translates as “Big Water”, and yes indeed, the Futaleufu River is Big Water. Chile.
PS – Oh, I should’ve added: this feature is just before Mundaca. Generally rafting trips will pull over on to a small beach below Cara del Indio, have a quick rest, and the guides will go over the plan for running Mundaca – it also allows the safety boats, like the cataraft and a kayaker or 2, to get ahead and set up for safety, if needed.
So, I’ll wrap up my Mundaca Series here. This is a safety boat, a cataraft, that runs the river ahead of the whitewater rafts, and gets set to pick up folks who might fall out of the rafts. Of course, that’s the plan, but if the cataraft flips, then the safety is shot. Generally, using a series of hand signals and keeping a watchful eye out, something like this will be communicated back upstream to let the guides of the rafts know they have no safety. In which case, they generally wait until the cataraft is either flipped back over, or they’ll continue on down the river, but run a more cautious line. I shouldn’t say there’s no safety – on a river like the Futaleufu, each whitewater rafting trip Continue reading →