The dull roar of powerful rapids have been a constant reminder of the power of the Rio Roosevelt over the past 3 days. We have been camping in the forest and spending more time walking forest trails rather than our normal rythm of paddling all day. We spent two days walking back and forth on forest trails scouting the river and walking to a farm 10 km from the beginning of the rapids to gain more information about the rapids.
We decided that the safest options was to portage our 5 canoes and mountain of equipment 3 km along good trails to the base of the first rapids. Paul and I spent 5 hours hauling 4 of the canoes and several packs to the beach below the rapids last night during the relative cool night air. We crashed in our hammocks for a few hours and then the whole group began portaging the rest of the supples at dawn. By 9:30 Eurico dropped the last pack on the beach and Hercilio prepared a big feast. Our next portage lay only a kilometer away and we needed to regain our strength.
The swift current quickly swept us to the next rapids. We snaked along the shore wading next to the canoes and using ropes to carefully maneuver the canoes past the surging rapids. Twice we have to unload the canoes and carry all of our equipment and canoes over the rocks. After several hours of hard, wet work we launched the canoes at the base of the rapids. Smaller rapids were scattered over the next 5 km. We wove through islands and plunged over ledges and through crashing waves. – After a long day we stopped on a small beach just above Sumauma, the largest of the rapids. Sumauma is our last major obstacle before we reach the mouth of the Rio Roosevelt. One hundred years ago Roosevelt’s crew spent a day and a half navigating this final stretch of rapids. With any luck we will also be past the last rapids by lunch time tomorrow and we will reach the mouth of the Rio Roosevelt tomorrow afternoon.