The Bull Riding Cancer Surviving Kayaker

Above: Randy Sparrow hanging out in Chile’s Rio San Pedro clear blue water during Pucon Classics Trip.

Like many retreat kayakers Randy introduced himself at the NOC Guest Appreciation Festival (GAF) and later signed up for a dreamy Chile kayak trip. Sadly, Randy cancelled due to a bout with skin cancer diagnosis. This wasn’t Randy’s first rodeo with cancer as 8 years earlier he fought off colon cancer. That’s when Randy got introduced to one of kayaking’s greatest programs. The First Descents non-profit for cancer patients that uses kayaking and rivers therapeutically. Randy was surprised when more than a year later we reached out to inform his Chile kayak trip deposit was transferrable as trip credits. And he soon signed up for two weeks of fulfilling his kayaking goals.

Randy’s introduction to whitewater was as entertaining as his younger bull riding days. Seeking an instructional class Randy reached NOC’s front line Jae Jackson. Jae asked about Randy’s level of kayaking experience, “Well, I’ve paddled some II’s and III’s and a III+ or two.” What Randy left out was the fact his kayaking experience was actually in a sit on top crafted for flat water. Which we speculate his class III experience may have been a windy day on an Arkansas lake. Jae aligned Randy with a class II to III whitewater clinic. After the first day of classes instructor Casey Jones asked, “So Randy. How many times have you paddled that boat?” Randy pondered for an honest response, “Other than today?” Casey nodded as if to say you can tell me, “Once.”

Randy offered to go into a less skilled class but Casey insisted to see how the clinic went. By the end of the clinic Randy was hitting multiple rolls, paddling class III, and best of all was hooked on kayaking. Randy laughs, “I’ve been staying in my boat and Casey has had to put up with me ever since.”


Above: Randy Sparrow plants a boof stroke on the Lower Palguin waterfall (Pucon Classics Trips). // Randy Sparrow bull riding.

Three years and having survived cancer later Randy spent two weeks paddling in the heart of Chile’s best whitewater. The first few days were dusting off the cob webs a bit, and by the end of the trip Randy was running waterfalls and class IV. Excited for a new season of kayaking with a whole new level of kayak skills and confidence. We salute Randy Sparrow for representing everything we love about rivers. KEEP KAYAKING.


Chile Kayak Trips

Instructor DISCOUNTS for Chile Kayak Trips

Recruiting, training and retaining kayak instructors to lead Chile kayak trips. Instructors can earn 50% DISCOUNTS to kayak Chile rivers.

Pucon + Valle Puelo Multi-Adventure Trip

Pucon riverside, basalt canyons, volcanos, y hot springs. Valle Puelo via horse support to AR border gaucho farm. Pack raft Rio Ventisquero to Rio Puelo.

Students Kayak Chile Rivers + AWFA CERT

Students kayak Chile rivers and earn Wilderness First Responder Certification over holiday break. Daily after WFR classes instruction for BEG-INT-ADV kayakers.

First Descents Alumni & Friends Chile Kayak Trip

First Descents friends Chile kayaking trip for BEG-INT-ADV groups. Kayaking daily safe and proper development features for best learning.

Week of Chile Rivers with Colorado Whitewater

Colorado Whitewater members DISCOUNTS to kayak Chiles best rivers. Daily instruction and destinations to beginner, intermediate, and advanced rivers.

Women of Chile Rivers Kayak Trip

Chile kayaking trip for intermediate and advanced women kayakers led by kayak school owners, competitors and expedition leaders on Chile’s best whitewater.

Pucon Classics Advanced (III to IV)

Multiple WEEKS Available
Advanced Chile Whitewater Kayaking Trip guarantees blue rivers, waterfalls, slides, and boofing all on world class creeking and big rivers.

Beginner Whitewater Kayak Chile Trips

Multiple Dates Available
For beginner and wannabe whitewater kayakers. Equipment, rivers, fun adventures, and challenges included. Bring a friend or meet new ones while you learn to kayak Chile rivers.

Fuy Plus Pucon Rivers

Advanced kayaking in Chiles best waterfall destinations of Rio Fuy and Pucon. Blue waterfalls with Pucon rivers and basalt canyons offers multiple sections for advanced whitewater kayakers.

Pucon Multi-Sport Adventures

Pucon’s best multi-sport adventures travelers choose from raft, horse, hot springs, wine tasting, volcanos and glaciers while living riverside.

Chile Kayak y Multi-Adventure Trips Calendar

Calendar details best white water kayak Chile and multi-sport adventure trips by month and skill. Links to trip data make reserving your trip easy.

Huilo Huilo Plus Pucon Multi-Sport

JAN 18 – 25
Choose from Pucon and Huilo Huilo Biological Reserves best adventures and comfort activities. Riverside lodging, and reliving your failures and summits with friends and warm fire. Is this real life.

Kathy Zerkle and Friends Chile Birthday Party

Happy birthday Kathy. Over the years nurse/ranger/psychotherapist Kathy Zerkle has mended more broken river bodies and minds than all of us put together. It is with great pleasure that Pucon Kayak Retreat offers Kathy & friends a birthday week of retreat Chilean river style amongst her besties.

Pucon Classics Intermediate Chile Kayak Trip

Multiple Dates Available
15 INTERMEDIATE sections to learn self-scouting, piercing eddies, boofing, edge control, and explore Chile’s beautiful rivers. Bring a friend or bond with new ones during your daily challenges.

Week of Rivers Chile Kayaking Trip

Multiple Dates. FOR Beginner-Intermediate-Advanced Kayakers
For clubs & groups with a range of skills: beginner – intermediate – advanced kayakers. Beginners and intermediates can safely learn while advanced kayakers can challenge their skills with separate rivers and instructors. Celebrate nightly around the fire.

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Our Scheduled Chile Kayak Trips