Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Rio Maichin - Chile
Michelle Basso heads into the final class IV rapid on the Rio Maichin, Chile.
The Rio Maichin is a Chilean river always providing local and visiting paddlers alike with something special to enjoy along this beautiful stretch of water. A dozen or so tributaries flow into this gentle valley which runs parallel with the international Chile-Argentina boundary before picking up in gradient and officially forming the Rio Maichin. At the end of this 20 km section, the river joins the main Trancura river valley and makes a final journey down to Lake Villarica and the town of Pucon. It is true that the Maichin does not contain the vertical walled class V action found on the other local creeks, yet still the river is able to bring together kayakers of all abilities. In the summer it is common to find intermediate paddlers possibly having their first Chilean whitewater experience, while expert kayakers may follow along running this river in combination with the nearby class V Rio Puesco.
The class V Rio Puesco can be a simple addition to your paddling day on the Maichin, as both rivers are less than 45 minutes apart.
From Pucon, this class III-IV run (with one potential class V) is less than an hour away on mostly paved road and can be paddled late into the season when many other local runs get too low. Head east along route 119 following the Rio Trancura towards the next principal town of Curarrehue (pronounced Kura-way-way). As you head down the main street look for a left turn which directly crosses a bridge spanning the Rio Trancura/Puesco (If you miss this turn the main road will continue past town and up the pass towards the Rio Puesco and the Argentinean border). This secondary road turns to dirt and winds along grassy fields for about 5km until it comes to the bridge high above the Rio Maichin. Stop here and you can asses the flows in the flatwater canyon below. About 50m past the bridge take the turnoff road downstream 1.5km to the take-out. This area is private property so camping and hanging out isn't really appropriate unless you have permission. Park a shuttle vehicle out of the way and return back to the main road (at the bridge) that follows high above river right for another 5 km until it drops back down to the river.
Blasting through the Maichin's excellent middle section.
At this point begins the principal 6 km whitewater section. Jump in your kayak and enjoy a couple of medium drops before you reach an apparent horizon line and the hardest (IV-V) rapid on the run. On the river left shore you can either scout or portage this rapid as well as set safety directly along the undercut left wall. From this point on the river is generally read-and-run except for one technical rapid about halfway in where you can assess the situation easily on river right. Shortly after the final drop the road bridge will appear high above and the river is flat for the final kilometer to the take-out.
Posted by Basso