All Outdoors T-Shirts Travel the WorldPosted February 14, 2007 by Laura Armstrong
IÂ´m not sure if you can actually see it in this picture, but the white logo on my T-shirt does in fact say “All-Outdoors Whitewater Rafting.” When packing for our trip to Argentina and Chile, I grabbed this shirt at the last minute, thinking it would be fun to document AOÂ´s travels around the world.
In this shot, three AO guides (Tessa, myself and Brooke) are sitting above a beautiful glacial valley in the Andes Mountains, a short bus ride and few hours hike away from Bariloche, Argentina.
After spending a few days in Argentina, Brooke, Tessa and I decided that even though we were reaching out to new places, we didnÂ´t necessarily have to leave our favorite activities behind. So, we rented a car, drove a few hours to the Chilean border, and crossed into the rafting mecca of Futaleufu. (We know, weÂ´re river addicts. Friends and loved ones have attempted intervention a few times, but to no avail.)
All-Outdoors actually conducts a week-long rafting trip on the Rio Futaleufu each year, but Brooke was the only one of our three-person AO traveling posse to have actually been here for it this year. (She reports that the trip was a lot of fun, and that we should be very jealous of her.) While the river has been extremely high for most of its season this year, we actually arrived in the valley just a few days after it dropped about four feet. Guides estimate the water level right now to be somewhere around 10,000 cfs, which is (as a testament to the FutaleufuÂ´s might) considered “low water.” (For reference, the South Fork American River is considered to be flowing high once it breaches 4000 cfs.) It is interesting to compare these lower flows to the river when I saw it two years ago. The rapids have become more technical, with tighter squeezes around holes that have nonetheless become no less relenting. Either way, the Futaleufu remains a river of literally unmatched beauty, whose rapids are still, even at low water, a practical roller-coaster ride over and around huge, dynamic waves.
Aside from time paddling the Futaleufu in a raft and hiking the Andes in Argentina, the newest adventure for the All-Outdoors T-shirt has been kayaking lessons on various tributaries. The lessons are just scary enough to be incredibly fun, and we are being taught by none other than the local kids Brooke spent so much time fundraising for over the last year. It is awesome to see things brought full-circle, to witness the transformation in the local culture here as they become more involved with and attached to the river. But more details about that later. (See previous post for some background on BrookeÂ´s efforts to help save the Futaleufu from being dammed.)
As for the next stop, weÂ´re off to paddle the Terminator section on the Futaleufu tomorrow, and then itÂ´s back into Argentina for a few days hiking around El Bolson. On Monday weÂ´ll finally begin our journey back to the rivers and valleys of California, which remain, even after time spent in a place as beautiful as this, home.