Rio Maichin (Lower)
|Stretch:||Near the Curarrehue|
|Difficulty:||Class IV (Harder at higher flows)|
|Flows:||500 to ~2,000 cfs|
|Gradient:||69 fpm (0.7 miles at 109 fpm)|
|Put-in:||Two Car Bridges above Curarrehue|
|Take-out:||Small Clearing downriver of the major road crossing|
|Shuttle:||4.6 miles, 10 minutes|
|Season:||This one goes later, December tends to have higher flows. January through March is common.|
|Featured in Video #36, Chile 2010 Installment Four|
Along with the Rio Puesco, the Rio Maichin form the headwaters of the Rio Trancura for it is at their confluence, that the name of the river changes and becomes the Rio Trancura. Of the two rivers, the Rio Maichin is hands down the easier. It is characterized by tall gorge walls stretching up 50-100 feet locking you into the canyon below. Don’t let that frighten you, as my memory serves me, all difficult rapids can still be portaged.
We ran this river on the second day of our trip. It proved to be a very pleasant warm up run that will disappoint no one with its shear walls providing a back drop to pleasant multi move class III and IV rapids. Furthermore, this river can apparently be run at high flows for those comfortable with must punch holes and the feeling of being moved down the river as opposed to moving yourself down the river. For those flows, you will need to look for the November and December months. As for us, we had a medium to medium low flow as the month of December was drawing to a close. Still, the flow we had provided enough padding that I never felt the river was low and I never touched and riverbed rock.
During your run, be prepared for a quick portage near the top of the run. Although this rapid is occasionally run, and our flow looked like the perfect flow for it, an undercut waiting downstream was enough to deter us from tempting our fate. From here down the river is mostly class III with two significant exceptions. The first is a long rapid that has sieves in play at the bottom and thus should be scouted. The second is a shorter rapid that is much steeper than the rest of the drops and due to rock placement, should also be scouted. Both are class IV at our flow possibly verging on IV+ for the first drop. All In all though, this is a great day on the water. The on river scenery is among the best you will experience in Pucón and the rapids are more accessible to “non-gnar” boaters. Also, if this run is even more than you want to bite off, head upriver for an easier class III river taking out where this run puts in.
Thanks to Rodrigo of KayakPucon for his contribution of photos.
- Under the Bridge (III+). Just downstream of put-in, below the bridge is a fun rapid. Some rocks block the route, but there are several methods to get down to the hole awaiting at the bottom.
Boogie (III to IV-). There are some easy rapids that lead you to the Portage.
Portage (V). Our flow looked great, the hole at the bottom was not too bad, and the outflow into the undercuts looked manageable. However, none of us wanted it. At different flows, I can imagine this one looking horrible. I also know, that the eddy at the lip on the right that we used to portage may not be a good idea at some flows, and hence a river left portage and seal launch in front of the undercuts is necessary.
- Long Rapid (III+ to IV-). A long read and run rapid brings you into the gorge and the steepest section of the run. After the river turns right, the rapid continues for a few hundred yards further.
Undercut (III+ to IV-). An easy drop if on the left side. The right side ends in a bad undercut wall that has caused some close calls.
The Crux (IV to IV+). Just below the undercut rapid, catch a high eddy on the right and scout the drop below. The first move is right to left, the hole through this is much bigger than we expected and flipped half of our group. The bottom has three doors, the right pinches off and the left apparently catches wood regularly. Boof the center, which can form a large hole. It is best to boof it on the left, but also be aware there is a rock just downstream on the left.
Exit (IV to IV+). This one looks much worse than it is. Easily scoutable on the right or those with an idea of where it is can scout with only a short walk off the road while driving shuttle. Head right to center and end center right. Or there also looked to be a line on the far left.
- A super cool, super tight walled gorge amidst class II to III- boogie greats you. The bridge you drive over while driving shuttle passes overhead. Another cool gorge comes and goes, and small class II boogie leads you to take-out at mile 4.6.
Take-out: From Pucon, head towards Curarrehue. On the far side of town, cross over the Rio Puesco (just upstream of the confluence) following signs to Reigolil, head left at the fork and follow the Maichin up the valley. Some great views await while driving this road. Eventually you cross the Maichin. Turn left, and follow about 1.2 miles to wide spot in the road with a small gate on your left, this is take-out.
Put-in: Get back to the main road, and continue heading upriver. For the most part, the road is next to the river, but a few hundred feet up the canyon wall. Drive 0.4 miles to the point you can look at the big “Exit” drop, there should be a short trail heading into the canyon for the view. In another 2.6 miles you will get to another bridge that you can scout the first rapid from. Head another few hundred yards up the road and find a good place to put on before the road climbs away from the river.
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