After pulling off the river early to escape the heat of the day, we stopped at an old farmstead. Here we were greeted warmly by its sole inhabitant, Jose, and settled in for the day. When Jose commented that this old farmstead was the only one on this stretch of river, we checked our GPS. Much to our surprise, it confirmed that our latitude matched that of the farmstead where Rondon & Roosevelt had camped 100 years before. We had stumbled upon historic ground!
As we marveled at this discovery, Tonico heightened the intrigue by commenting that he’d noticed an old table tucked in the brush by the riverside with initials carved in it that matched those of Theodore Roosevelt’s son, Kermit, who accompanied him on the 1914 expedition. We raced down to check. Sure enough, “KR” was clearly etched in the tabletop. Adding to the fun was an ancient hand-carved canoe paddle we found partially buried in the riverbank near the table. Left behind by Roosevelt’s team? No, it turns out Tonico scratched the initials in the table as a good-natured prank.
To make up for the day we spent in the forest and to escape the heat we loaded our canoes at 10 pm on Friday night and spent 10 hours floating and paddling 55 km. At dawn we reached the Inferno Rapids and, like Roosevelt, we hired some locals from the remote fishing camp at the base of the rapids to help us around the 3 meter falls and smaller rapids just downstream.
We are camped at the base of a beautiful rapids about 3 miles below the Inferno Rapids. We are enjoying our first rest day since we started paddling 10 days ago. Shade trees are sprinkled around the beach, making it a perfect place to rest and recharge.
We have about 100 miles left to go before we reach the mouth of the Rio Roosevelt. Our last major obstacle is a 10-mile stretch of rapids 60 miles downstream. People have been telling us about the large rapids near the end for a long time. Soon we will experience them for ourselves. Roosevelt took 2 days to navigate the rapids. I hope we will be able to navigate them quickly as well. The Roosevelt has become a large and powerful river now. The Inferno Rapids was a real eye-opener. It is hard to comprehend that the water was 20 feet higher two months ago, but the dried aquatic plants on the rocks makes it clear how high the water routinely gets during the rainy season.