Happy Winter Solstice!
Here’s a look at the rapid from yesterday’s photo, Mundaca. This photo is looking up at the top section of the rapid, where the river narrows rapidly, hits a few pretty large boulders, and goes every which way but loose. This angle doesn’t really give you a great look at the rapid (pronounced Moon – Dahka), but I like the scene. You can’t see down into those holes and waves, but I’ll make a few posts over the next couple of days showing the rapid a little better, as well as some action from there. We had some pretty big hits on Mundaca last year, with a bunch of rafts flipping. I proudly can tell you that the company I worked with had the most flips of the season at over 16. Pretty cool!!! Go big, or go home.
As the summer progressed, the everyone became more familiar with Mundaca, and also the water level changed enough to make it safer to go straight down the middle. At high water levels, flipping is more dangerous for a few reasons:
* the water’s flowing faster. It means it’s harder for the safety (kayakers and a cataraft) to pick up swimmers.
* the water downstream is still swirly, with waves and rapids and eddy lines that suck you down.
* the faster water also means safety has less time to get you before the next rapid – at a fast flow it might only take a few seconds and you’re already swimming the next rapid.
* colder water. Generally the water wasn’t too bad, but a couple of days the water temperature was lower – colder water is generally far more dangerous to you than warmer water.
So, once the water levels became a bit more reasonable, rafting guides would usually ask people on the trip if they wanted to go big in Mundaca, or play it safer and take a line that avoids the big holes and waves. We’d let the safer raft go first, to get some more safety down stream, then the raft that wanted to go bigger would follow, when everyone was in place. It’d always provide a bunch of excitement, watching or running a 16′ raft into the middle of a Class IV rapid, and seeing what happens. Fortunately, we had world class guides running the river, and excellent safety every time. Nobody got hurt, and everyone had big fun.
This time last year I was in Patagonia, running the Futa and meeting some great people. Good times.
Tomorrow I’ll post a photo showing what happens when someone runs the middle line.