Unforgettable Memories from the Bio Bio

March 21, 2019 by Butch and Chris

In memory of Joy Ungricht, the first woman Sobek guide and the first woman to raft the Bio Bio River. Joy and Butch Carber were married at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro on 20 September 1989, on a Sobek trip. After her death from cancer on 29 September 1992, her ashes were spread on the Bio Bio River, in the Grand Canyon, and at the confluence of the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers in Alaska.

Butch: “Chris, good to hear from you…as I remember, you were a Top Gun, and you gave me your flight suit, commenting that river guides were like Top Gunz—and, if I also remember correctly, it was you and your wife, Debi, who spread my wife, Joy’s, ashes in Lost Yak, as we made the cut around the baseball rock with the waterfall in the background…I had planned to let the ashes out as we made that move, but then decided that it would be better if I focused on rowing, so Debi graciously offered to spread them for me.”

Chris: “Butch—I can’t believe your memory…you are right that I went to Top Gun, and Debi and I still live in Virginia. I hope you have put my flight suit to good use over all these years!! And yes, you were all made Honorary Top Gun Navy Fighter Pilots with your incredible skill in so professionally navigating and surviving the Bio Bio rapids!

We wanted you to know that even though our most excellent trek was 26 years ago in 1993, we think about it often, for it was indeed an experience of a lifetime! From touchdown to takeoff at Santiago airport, every minute in between was so much fun, so full of thrills, beauty, laughter and adventure. I mean, any trip that starts off with a spontaneous Happy Hour at the Carrera Hotel, where we all quaffed so many pisco sours that we ran the poor barkeeper out of fresh limes (although I think they call them lemons in Chile!), has GOT to be phenomenal!!

And on top of that, little did we know that coincidentally, our Guide Staff would happen to be the legendary team of you, Stan Boor, Mike Speaks, Mark, Frenchy and Jenny…It was always a thrill to see them huddled together on the boulders overlooking the rapids to scout them and decide the best way to negotiate safely thru them. They would all discuss the various options based on their considerable past experiences…and the serious looks on their faces underscored how challenging these Bio Bio rapids were…as well as the accumulated skill and rafting finesse they all had. Wow, talk about the Mt. Rushmore of  River Guides!

What tripped off my phone call was that while shopping at the local supermarket the other day, in the South American food section I found a jar of Aji, that delicious spicy sauce that you guys cooked with (even with scrambled eggs!) and a Chilean staple. We totally loved it…I remember going to one of the tiny local stores during our trip and buying every single one of the 10 jars they had to bring home. Just looking at that jar of Aji again so vividly jogged our memories of the trip, that I said “That’s it…I’m calling SOBEK!”

One of the fondest and most profound memories was Debi having the honor of spreading Joy’s ashes in Lost Yak…I believe Joy was a Guide as well, and having her laid to rest in a place that she loved dearly was incredibly moving and heartwarming to experience. May God Bless her sweet soul…

We went thru our Bio Bio photo album, and I will be happy to share as many pics as you wish. Remember, 1993 was before iPhones and digital pics, so I will scan as necessary.

We wanted you to know what a huge impact on our lives that you and Stan and Mike had….we so treasure our trip recollections, and NEVER get tired of reliving our Chilean adventure!”

Butch & Chris, MT Sobek Guide & Guest

MT Sobek Trip: Bio Bio, 1993

About the Author Butch and Chris

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