Friday, February 24, 2012

New Experiences: the long awaited Chile post

I've been back just over a month and I'm finally getting around to posting about Chile. I guess it has taken me a month to process everything from my first international kayaking trip.

Chile was a very humbling experience.

Alaska's paddling community, though tight knit, it is very small. There is not a high percentage of boaters that are ready to fire it up. That's not to say that there aren't any, as there is a very enthusiastic group, but nothing like the numbers around the current kayaking mecca. My first day in Chile I signed up for a race down IV+/V- right behind Bomb Flow front man, Evan Garcia. After tail lighting the Upper Palguin, I hiked back up to the top to "race" my way down with a bunch of professional kayakers. Race is in quotes because I wasn't really in the mind set after traveling for two days and having not been on moving water for nearly two months. On top of that I more epically failed rather than race; flipping twice in the middle of the first drop, going over the first waterfall upside down, then missing my boof on the second drop and providing the carnage and swim all the spectators were waiting for.

I spent my first few weeks at the Pucon Kayak Hostel with the New River Academy/Huge Experiences kids and instructors. It was the first time I had really been around people that paddled 300 days per year. I would be lucky to get 100 days a year. It a different experience to be the wide eyed questioning newb. We didn't get too much of an opportunity to scout many of the drops that we got to run. The people we were paddling with were incredibly comfortable with the water and the runs. More often than not we would get a quick run down of the line in an eddy then chase everyone through the rapid hoping you had your rights and lefts correct. Having primarily paddled in Alaska, I was pretty knew to being on completely foreign rivers with a group of people that new the run well. Typically back home, if I didn't know the run, there would maybe be one other person in the groupe that knew it.

Not only was I surrounded by some of the best kayakers, the rapids people were running were beyond anything I had ever seen. Not only were the styles of drops different, but what people were willing to run was totally different. There were things that I would look at and think,"People actually run that!?". Yeah sure, you're likely to break your boat, paddle, and helmet, but yeah you can run it. There is rumor that one person ran it clean. Some of the things people were running down there would make The Girdle look like child's play.

The vertical realm of kayaking was a pretty new thing for me too. There aren't too many waterfalls that are easily accessible, and all of the ones that I've come across so far, you really want to make sure you nail your boof. I was amazed watching the best kayakers change the pitch and roll of their kayak mid air. I knew (or thought I did) how to boof, but stomping and plugging were pretty new to me. To say the least, I had a lot to learn.

All in all it was a great experience. I not only got to push my comfort level kayaking, but also culturally. It was nice to know a little more spanish than my last Latin American foray, but I still have a long ways to go.

We didn't get to paddle some of the rivers that we originally wanted to or get to spend as much time as we would have wanted at other rivers. I feel like I know the ropes now, and am eager to go back soon.

The whole trip was more overwhelming and incredible than I could ever blog about so enjoy some Chile Stew. One month of traveling and kayaking in Chile boiled into four minutes.

Photos from Chile are here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Feeling

One thing I really struggled with while I was in Chile was the push and pull between wanting to run something and "the feeling". The feeling you get when you know you can nail a line, when you are ready to stomp it, when all the butterflies are flying in formation. It felt like some many times I would get to a rapid or a drop I had seen a million times in a video, read about for a year, or dreamt about styling and I would be confused. Did I have the feeling? Was I really going to run it, or did I just want to? Was I forcing myself to have "the feeling" because I wanted to run it, because this might be my only chance. That was the real kicker, this moment looking at the drop might be my only chance to run this rapid. I want to, but can I? Should I? Did I have the feeling?

I came across a great article by Clay Wright. Everyone struggles with this feeling. Is it really about the drop or rapid itself, or is it about the feeling you get afterwards?

Stepping up to Stout at Chile's 70' Middle Palguin

Monday, February 13, 2012

Updates all around...

Its been a while to say the least.

This last summer was a good one. Despite the low snow fall in the winter of 2010/11 the kayaking season was a good one. I was able to get on 16 rivers though out Alaska, which included 6 new runs! I also bought a GoPro HD camera and started a video library of Alaskan rivers on my youtube account (pschauerak). If pictures are worth a thousand words, then videos must be worth a million. Rather than read about all the kayaking excursions I went on last summer check out my youtube channel and/or this video:

A big motivation for me to get a GoPro this last year was that I was watching all sorts of great videos of people paddling all over the world, but there weren't many videos of people paddling in Alaska. In an attempt to correct this issue I started making my own videos. Hopefully people will realize the potential that Alaska has to offer.

Watching all those videos last year motivated me to take a kayaking trip to Chile this year. Stay tuned for a Chile update.

I've also updated the look, name, and URL of the blog. I changed the URL from to, as it is a lot easier to tell people that, than it is to spell out my last name. I'm also checking out the possibilities of starting an online portfolio at zenfolio (more to come on that as well).

Stay tuned.... I might just get better at this........