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What’s it like for a female touring with uber-testosterone Demshitz? Meet Nicole Mansfield and her 70’ destination.
Pyranha reps Nicole Mansfield and Dave Fusilli worked hard saving for their annual waterfall adventure in Pucón, Chile. Nicole had targeted the destination 70’ Middle Palguin cascade as a must run. As their month in Chile began to run short on days water remained high. Friend and water-level advisor Jared (Seiler) started convincing Nicole higher water was better.
Let’s Backtrack and Hear the Whole Story
Drinking coffee at Mother’s café in downtown Buena Vista Dave and Nicole are blogging for accessory companies that sling them gear and a few bucks. Outside a grey and orange van tattooed with a giant Pyrahna is loaded with kayaks. I approach sipping my own coffee, “How’s it going? I’ve got an article idea for you guys along the lines of Demshitz Linguistics –Word of the Week.” The pair laugh and Dave says, “Good idea that’ll go well.”
They take turns joking Demshitz lexicon: brown, ball, stout, hoose, roosting, siphon, surfed…” Dave thinks and ultimately haults the idea, “You’d better get Jared on this one. He’s writing a book on it.”
I nod OK, “I’d still like to do an article. You know my bit, compelling story that characterizes you and Demshitz.”
The conversation turns to describing what it’s like for a female to travel with the Demshitz and a story begins to unfold, “Hmm. That’s good. Nicole traveling with the Demshitz.”
“Demshitz is anyone who doesn’t mind being referred to as Demshitz and those that mind are Demshitz too.” –Jared Seiler when asked to define the term.
Nicole tosses out random examples of Demshitz life, “Everyday was an adventure.” She begins explaining descriptions of new rivers, “We goto the Calaghan put-in thinking it might be high. I remember boulder gardens the last time we were there but on this day the boulders were covered with water and people were surfing at the takeout.” She quotes Jared, “It’s at the level the locals run it.” Nicole laughs and continues deep voiced impressions of their tactic for building her confidence, “Oh yea… this run’s like the Gauley.” Thinking of their friend they make certain it’s understood, “Jared’s funny about put-ins but he’s the guy you want there when shit goes down. He’s taught me so much…”
Sensitive Demshitz Make Female Adjustments
Demshitzlers wanted it noted they made changes after Nicole joined the tour. You know, simple rules that needed a woman’s touch like:
- Less beer for breakfast.
- No dirty under-ware on the dash.
- More eating real food vs. “steak shakes.” (Protein shakes)
I comment, “OK. We’re getting a feel for what it’s like for a female to travel with Demshitz. Is there a story that ties it together?” The pair think and eventually Dave answers, “You could write about Nicole’s last day in Chile paddling the Middle Palguin.”
That last day in Pucón conditions were less than perfect- cold, raining, and Dave had giardia. In his own words, “I’d been in the hostel for two days with some roosting browns from my hoose. No one wanted to go.”
The crew had made plans for 11, then it was 12, and at 1 it was a moanful sigh of non-motivated kayakers. It was Jared who triggered everyone to get up and go. Then Evan (Garcia) said, “Shit. Nicole’s going to run the stout we have to go.”
About the Rio Palguin-
The Palguin is one of Chile’s classic runs with clear blue water and clean drops. Something for every skill.
There are three Palguin sections plus three significant giants: Upper, Middle and Lower
- Upper Palguin is the class III-IV most run section with six clean drops. The largest being 20’ and 14’. Every class IV paddler that’s ever been to Pucón has ran the Upper Palguin. It’s perfect for first timers running waterfalls. The Upper Palguin ends at the class V+ “La Portage” where most takeout.
- Middle Palguin is a IV- V+ section that includes the “Stout Ten.” Running the “Stout Ten” would be a multiple of three to scoring the Green’s famous “Triple Crown.” The “Middle Palguin 70’ Stout” is one of the Stout Ten.
- Lower Palguin is a class III-IV+ slight step up from the Upper. The crystal blue water is signified with “Triple Drop.” It’s a busier section than the Upper with less waterfalls. There is a near mandatory portage that few have ran since Brendan Guth drown there approximately ten years ago.
- Salto Palguin Stout- This challenging approach to an off-balanced 85’ was first descented by Steve Fisher two years ago. The world’s best huckers are botching this drop. It’s rare to see a clean line with body still in kayak in the bottom pool.
- Middle Palguin Stout is 70’ of all you can eat. The 10’ seal launch lands in a frothy walled in moving eddy that rolls to the horizon lip. The “seal-launch” multiplies the intimidation factor. For the big boys there’s a 10’ “stout” not so clean drop just above the seal launch. Beware, the best of the best have had sketch surfs just above the 70-footer.
Truck Ride to the Middle Palguin
A small four-door pickup truck was loaded Pucón style: seven kayaks and boaters on top of each other, fogged windows, and lots of gear. Nicole blankly stared into space rehearsing her line. Everyone was telling those kinds of stories that made her ask, “Why are you telling that now?”
The restaurant property owner with direct access to the giant wouldn’t abide on this day. Nicole thought this could be her out. Besides the group had been denied before only to go boat the nearby class V classic Los Nevados. But today it was a unified,
“We’re gonna fire this stout. We go back to the states in one day and this is one of the most perfectly beautiful waterfalls on the planet.”
The crew would drive a half mile upstream and paddle down to their destiny.
Nicole watched hand placements and each person sliding off the rock walled canyon flowing into the horizon. Dave launched, almost flipped, recovered and held his stroke rolling off the lip. His tripped landing actually reassured Nicole. Everyone kept going and then it was just Fred (Norquist) and Nicole left. “(Fred) Can I go next?” She asked.
“I’d envisioned myself entering one of two ways; eddying out or going direct. At the lip I’d rehearsed holding a long right stroke. Spot the landing. Tuck and throw the paddle. I thought about that right stroke so many times late at night in my bed.” Dave nods, “That drop haunts you…”
One hand on the paddle the other on the rock like a ski-racer launching out of the gate. Heart throbbing. Breathe. Looking down at frothy white rolling to the right turn horizon 26 year old Nicole Mansfield began sliding. Land and impact. Two balance strokes. Hold the right stroke. Accelerate on a tongue. Toss the paddle. In moments of time she was transcending into a piercing boil.
“I remember penciling thinking, Ohhh. Wow. That was soft. Time your hand roll. Feel the surface. It took a while then I realized my skirt had imploded and this was why I’d not resurfaced. I swam to the surface, was close to the eddy and there was Jared excited, yelling.”
“The rush of falling those split seconds, falling tucked… I’ll remember them for the rest of my life.”
What equipment would you like people to buy?
Astral Green Jacket- Nicole suggests the Green Jacket for those of you who want the best rescue vest.
Werner Double Diamond- is the sickest most reliable paddle built.
Varun- is Pyranha’s cross-over boat. If you’re going from beginner to river running and playing then you’ll want to check out the Fusion.
Pucón Kayak Hostel- is Chile’s only option for economical kayaker’s lodging, kayak rentals, shuttle services, and to hang out and get the low-down on local runs.
Did you enjoy this blog? You might also enjoy, “Who is Johnnie Kayaker?”
CKS Content Media Specialist
Owner- Pucon Kayak Hostel, Your economical Chile destination with beds, kayak rentals, and beginner to advanced rivers. “Keep Kayaking.”
Director- Huge Experiences’ New River Academy, “And that has made all the difference.”