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First of all, I would like to thank everyone who supported ESCAPE, especially my family and friends who continue to believe in the dream!  Of course, I would also like to thank all of the clients who trusted in us to provide a fun, valuable experience.  It was a pleasure to share the rivers, hot springs, lakes and trails of the area with you all.  Y muchas muchas muchas gracias a toda la gente increible de Curarrehue y Pucon (Rodrigo y Ema y Ian y muchos mas!!) – sin su apoyo no existiria ESCAPE!!

With the help of friends and family and with the much appreciated support of this community, ESCAPE began the 2012-2013 summer with immeasurable amounts of positive energy.  After Jackie Selevan (Couldn’t have done it without you, Jackie!!) and I finished renovating the office space and taking care of the necessary paperwork, we began guiding trips on the scenic and powerful Maichin Canyon.  A highlight was making our first commercial raft float with friend and local guide, Javier Arias Aliante, owner of Curarrehue’s Turismo Limayco.

Celebrating our 1st raft trip of the season!

December rains made business a little slow, but it gave the rivers a much needed boost in flow, and it gave us an opportunity to get out and kayak!  The rains also helped facilitate an impressive race during the White Water Grand Prix on Curarrehue’s premier section of whitewater, the Rio Puesco.

Evan Garcia looking for a fast line down “Tres Troncos” in the Puesco race. photo by Jackie Selevan

After the fervor of the Grand Prix settled, the arrival of lifelong friend and legend, Max Blackburn, and a visit from another long-time friend and legend, Derek Beitler, helped to motivate us for more whitewater boat riding. In between laps on the area’s better known creeks and rivers, the three of us made a pilgrimage with Jackie to my favorite valley in the world, the Rio Blanco de Caburgua, where we did a lap in the beautiful, waterfall-rich canyon down to the hot springs. We even managed to discover a new waterfall, where we gifted ourselves with a 1st Descent on Christmas Eve.

Jackie boofs into “Welcome to Zion” on the Rio Blanco as Max and Derek wait below.

Jackie and Derek were pretty impressed by our discovery of “Tres Luca”

The new year brought sunny, summer weather, and in between SUP and mellow rafting trips, ESCAPE had the opportunity to provide week-long guided kayak trips for three guests in January (Rachael, Kiren and James – so much fun!  Thank you!).  Matt and Carrie from California inspired an awesome day trip that included a SUP float, delicious meal at the Cocina Mapuche and a soak in the Termas de Panqui.  That is the ultimate day in Curarrehue!

Guest guides/drivers/office help were crucial in makingthese trips happen.  Max Blackburn, Isaac Levinson, Fede Medina, Nahuel Epulef and Israel Naranjo were a huge help.  Check out a few SUP, kayak and rafting videos on the ESCAPE Youtube channel.

Post paddle snack with the friends and clients.

Amazing food prepared by Anita Epulef

We are so lucky to have these hot springs nearby. It’s a rough road to get there, but worth every bump along the way.

Curarrehue celebrates the summertime every February with their outstanding Feria Walung, which brings together local artisans, musicians and farmers and provides a venue to share their goods with locals and visitors.  During this time, ESCAPE joined forces with the World Class Academy and NRSto provide a day of kayak instruction for the youth of Curarrehue.

Peluches!

After paddling, we played ancestral games and had a traditional meal at the fair.  I can’t wait to do it again next season!  ESCAPE also had the opportunity to provide transportation for the World Class students and staff out to my favorite beach community in the world, Buchupureo, where we enjoyed perfect waves, seafood and sunshine in a timeless rural setting.  Thanks to Chilote and to Carlina for hooking us up out there!

Due to a light snow-pack and lots of sunshine, the water really began to drop in February, but we still managed to get out and enjoy the river.  We squeezed in a few more guided kayak trips and kayak lessons on both the Maichin and Puesco rivers near town.  We also began running our SUP trips on the mystical Rio Liucura, where we had a great time teaming up with Pucon’s Puelche Adventures, providing the SUP experience for their family float trips.

Floating and SUP trips on the majestic Rio Liucura with ESCAPE and Puelche

As the summer wound down, more time was spent with friends and family.  A couple of trips to the might Middle Fuy with the amigos fulfilled my need to fly off of waterfalls and rage down big rapids.  I was fortunate to have an extended visit from the Gibson brothers (Gipper and Travis), and I was especially fortunate to have a visit from my mom, Jackie Groth.

Rio Blanco with my mom

This was her first time traveling in South America, and it was a treat to show her around the area I love so much.  We hiked to alpine lakes, floated crystalline waters, foraged for pinones (the fruit of the Araucaria/Monkey Puzzle tree), soaked in hot springs and marveled at the power of the waves of the South Pacific.  Although sad to take the life of a little lamb, we also cooked up a traditional “asado de cordero” out at my little piece of rented paradise on the Rio Panqui with friends from the area.  Good times!

I am currently working hard here in Washington, serving up great food and beer at Everybody’s and guiding on the White Salmon with All Star, but I am already itching to get back to Chile for another amazing season in Curarrehue.

We have big plans for this year with a music festival in the works and the inauguration of CAMP PUESCO – check it out on the kayaking page.  Tell your friends about it!

Come, stay here!

Not a bad place to relax off of the water. The cabins at Puesco with the “Peinetas” mountains in all of their glory.

Curarrehue is a special place.  It is a place of magnificent physical beauty and natural diversity with its lakes and rivers and forests and towering mountains, but the people really make Curarrehue special.  It is a place where people cherish their heritage and celebrate their culture, where the culture honors family and community values.  It is a place full of recreational opportunities, and the community is also special because the people actually take advantage of these opportunities to wander into the wilderness and to know their surroundings.It is a place where I found another family, a community of friendly, open, conscious, active and generous people.  I encourage locals from Pucon and elsewhere in Chile and travelers from around the world to get out there and experience Curarrehue.  You won’t regret it.

Welcome to Curarrehue, the garden of the frontier.

Hope to see you soon!

John “LJ” Groth

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