Stepping up to Stout at Chile’s 70′ Middle Palguin

My first time on Chile’s 70′ Middle Palguin

Rock is full of plastic, nylon, nerves and energy.  Water turns from deep green to white  during the lead-in 10’er and just 40′ downstream it turns to mostly to spray on it’s 70′ journey to the pool below.  It’s my first day in Chile, just off the bus at this morning and now I’m with 20 of the top kayakers in the world looking off a massive horizon line where plastic baubles below shout encouragement at those of us still suffering the view from above.   Advice comes from everywhere… Ian Garcia is calm as a cucumber as he explains how to drift between boils onto the curler that gives the smooth ride.   Logan shows the rocky nub he seal launches to clear his stern off on the seal launch.   Tuck practice commences and we discuss whether cockpit grab, hands-down diving, or arms across the chest generates the least drag after the ‘hit’.    I’m feeling sick.  Coke for breakfast is mixing with adrenaline to produce a nasty effect in my gut.  I’m finally here.  I’ve flown across the world for this. The line on the rock is getting shorter it’s starting to feel a bit lonely at the top.  My legs feel weak,  and it would be so much quicker to slide in, turn right, and hope it’s as soft as they say.  It’s the easiest way down from this rock I can imagine and I can’t back down now….   I’m going to run it.


On the walk back to my boat, the rock looks the same as before:  no heightened sense of detailed visual perception,  no surreal ‘time slowed down’ level of focus, not even the thumping base of a heart primed for action… Something’s just wrong.  I want to be at the bottom, not on the lip or on the way down.  Reality dawns quickly when I realize I don’t remember which rock Logan pointed out and can’t even get one mental  ”holo-deck’ imaginary run into my brain that takes me from rock to pool below without looking back at the eddy.   It’s not right. . . sick and fearful is not how I’m supposed to feel when i’m about to paddle off the biggest waterfall I’ve ever run.   I struggle to stoke my brain.. to fire my heart and energize my focus and all I want is 3 clean lines in my head so I can trust I’ll have a clean line in reality.  I want confident exuberance, not dread.

If I’m not rushing now, then why am I even considering this?  I’m not here to have this waterfall ‘done’ –  I’m here for the feeling it is supposed to be generating in me.  These guys have primed the pump and made it look so easy and been so encouraging that in a way it’s far harder to back out than just go ahead and let gravity have it’s way with me… but that’s exactly what am going to do.   I look down to friends in the pool below and those with the cameras off to the side, hold up a ‘V’ with my fingers and then give it a scissors motion.  I’m shouldering my boat today with the hopes of getting the thrill I’m after the next time I’m here. I now realize what am here for is a feeling – not a waterfall.  I run down the trail hoping to see the last boaters feeling the experience from top to bottom and share in the contact buzz of the moment with them in the pool below.   Can’t wait to share mine with others when I can muster it.

Worth waiting for - Clay Wright feeling the rush on Middle Pal a different day

Comments on “Stepping up to Stout at Chile’s 70′ Middle Palguin”

  1. Ryan A
    February 15, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Nice post Clay. Excellent description of that feeling that all boaters have experienced and what we are really there for. Looking forward to some more photos from the day you felt it.

  2. Patrick Levesque
    February 15, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Hey Clay, you’ve written a text of great wisdom and humility!
    We all have been / will be there more than once. It’s all about the feeling and if your guts don’t feel it, walk it. And then you may also realize that walking it was harder than running it! But that is another story.

  3. Brett Barton
    February 15, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Great post, Clay. The reality of the moment is why we’re all here and you express it so well. Can’t wait to see the ‘hit’!! Lookin’ good so far 😉

  4. Jesse Becker
    February 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Nice post Clay! Its a breath of fresh air to hear a vet of the sport still admit that he gets nervous above a drop or rapid. All too often these days, you hear stories of folks running large drops and thinking “were they really ready for that?”….that question has never come to mind when you hear of what CW has been getting himself into! Some days you feel it, some you don’t- and experience teaches us when the right time is! Looking forward to having a beer with you again this year in BV.

  5. Jordan
    February 17, 2012 at 4:26 am

    Right on man. Walking is sometimes the line taken by the true badass. Takes confidence, poise, self-awareness and wisdom.

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