Enchanted, beautiful, full of wonder. The Puesco valley is shaped by magic as the waters of the Trancura River pull the energy from the mountains down throughout the gorge, providing an uplift for all those along its way.
The Puesco valley is a special place with an old world feel. The simple things still matter, the people are still friendly and everyone within the surrounding peaks of the valley knows they are privileged to be in such an extraordinary place. Here in this valley, 5 years ago, LJ Groth had a vision to combine kayaking, music and community to preserve the free flowing state of the Trancura river and to raise awareness of all endangered rivers in Chile.
Puesco Fest, now in its 5th year attracts thousands into the sprawling tent city throughout the forest along the banks of the Trancura for a four day festival that has not forgotten its roots in kayaking, but now has the makings of a powerful movement, fuelled by music to raise awareness to all issues facing Chileans in their fight to preserve natural lands and free flowing rivers.
The Kayaking races are still incorporated into the festival and continues to boast an impressive international field. In the days leading into the festival, a torrential downpour spiked the river to triple its normal flow and restricted racers to no more than a few practice laps; resulting in the Friday morning racers meeting to be no more than a handful of athletes that were poised for the elite race down the ‘Tres Troncos’ section of the Puesco River.
Two races took place for the field of 11 elite racers, featuring athletes from Chile, Canada, USA, Catalonia, France and as far away as Russia. Competitors first battled it out in a sprint solely through Tres Troncos, a 2 ½ – 3 minute course highlighted by its gradient loss, and tight technical maneuvers. Adding to its steepness, this young river contains shifting boulders and is lined by forests; indicating multiple sieves, siphons and tree’s that must be avoided throughout the course. The second of the two races used the same start line, but on the second lap, athletes were to blow past the sprint finish line and navigate the continuous class five of the Puesco all the way back to the festival grounds a few miles downstream. This gruelling, non-stop 13 minute race has to be ranked as one of most, if not the most challenging race course on the planet.
The Sprint was tight and technical down to the last strokes with less than one second separating the top 4 finishers. Aniol Serrersolses and his smooth style fended off Evan Garcia by 3 tenths of a second whilst Chilean crusher Lucas Varas rounded off the podium. Pedro Astogra came in exactly 1 second behind Aniol to claim 4th place in the Sprint race.
Walking back to the top of the course through the Chilean sunshine ensured a nice eplift as racers prepared for the 2nd race. A downriver sprint took place immediately following the Tres Troncos race and aimed to test Racer’s stamina, and focus throughout the non-stop gradient loss of the Puesco river. The downriver race finished a few miles downstream of the Tres Troncos rapid in the midst of the festival grounds. Being cheered into the finish, through the final strokes by festival goers lounging along the riverbanks curated an awesome vibe.
The downriver delivered a mix up in the order of the top 4, but not in the athletes represented. This time, Pedro Astorga stormed his way into 1st place, followed by fellow Chilean Lucas Varas and Aniol Serresolses. Evan Garcia overcoming a slight mid race pin to capture 4th place.
Puesco fest is a magical gathering in the pristine Puesco valley. A weekend designed to celebrate free flowing rivers and the important places of our World. With its roots in kayaking and its future in a movement towards protecting these pristine places. Puesco fest should be a must attend in the years to come for all who have a passion towards kayaking, rivers, music, and community.
The Magic of Puesco Fest