Thursday, March 27, 2008


headwaters of the Quijos River.

Ok, we are all back from Ecuador now and are trying to ease back into our lives here in the US. Our goal for this spring and summer is to keep this blog focused on Ecuador, which should be fairly easy as we have so much material that we didn't have time to blog over the last season.
This blog is dedicated to the water levels down in Ecuador. People often have a hard time grasping just how quickly things change there. We often say, "well, we'll tell you the plan tomorrow morning after we see if it rains tonight," and people think we are just full of it. But, honestly, the rivers can fluctuate feet in a matter of hours.
On one of our latest exploration missions, we were at the same bridge over the same river three days in a row. I've got a series of 3 photos here to help you see what we mean by fluctuating water levels in Ecuador.This was the water level on day 1. Please note how high out of the water the old bridge supports are, and how many boulders are out. We took this photo at 2pm.

We took this photo at 10am on day 2. Please notice that you cannot see any supports or rocks (ok, you can barely make out the tops of the supports, but this is a heck of a lot more water!Day 3, 11am. Not quite as low as day 1, but the river dropped considerable in only 23 hours.

The great thing about getting different water levels, is that paddlers in Ecuador get to experience all kinds of different paddling. Each water level offers its own unique characteristics that give Ecuador its outstanding reputation for having tons of variety. This wave that Don is surfing, for example, only comes out at high flows.

Whereas this boof that Don is boofing only comes out at low flows. So whatever the water level may be, there is always something great to paddle!



Monday, March 03, 2008


This blog is dedicated to Larry V. for being such a bad ass! He has been kayaking and working in Ecuador for the past 15 years and is still getting after it as hard as anyone (in fact, I'd say he's getting after it harder than anyone).

Larry decided he wanted to paddle a lot in 2008--a sort of New Year's resolution if you will--and he is off to a great start. He is just fresh off a stint where he paddled for 58 consecutive days in 2008 starting Jan. 1st, 2008(not to mention that he had 9 days going already at the end of 2007, making it a total of 67 days in a row).

So, hats off to Larry!

Saturday, February 16th, Larry paddled in the morning with our group, then took them all back to Quito for the farewell dinner and to pick up 2 new incoming groups. Because of some screwy flight arrival times, he was not able to ride with the group to the lodge Sunday morning, and was not able to paddle with them that afternoon...the streak was looking like it was in jeopardy... But, he arrived just in time (around 6:30pm) just as the sun was setting, and we decided we simply could not stand by and watch his streak get broken. Offers of shuttle driving and allowances for being late for dinner started flying, and before we knew it, Larry was in his paddling gear. At 6:39pm he was heading down our trail to the put in for a evening Pica Piedra run.

I hopped in the Niva to go pick him up and watch in the twilight as my friend--the bad ass--pulled into the eddy above Pica Piedra. It was just getting too dark to see, so I gave Larry 1 encouraging hoot. Knowing that he had run the rapid hundreds of times before, that he had the line dialed, and that he is, indeed a bad ass, Larry peeled out of the eddy, styled the rapid, and completed his 48th day of paddling in a row, keeping the streak alive. Hopefully all you paddlers out there will take some inspiration from Larry--I know I do!



For our last week of the season we had a big crew from Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, New York, and Connecticut. Don got so excited to have such a great group that he was just loopy.
Saskia, representing BC, is here spinning around in Don's hole on the Lower Quijos.

Don Beveridge, ripping up Darcy's Wave on the Lower Quijos. We had a great level--20.5 on the gauge--which makes for some epic surf waves. The best part is, at this level, Gringos Revueltos is washed out, so instead of stressing out about big holes, you just get to enjoy some HUMONGOUS waves--yes, even bigger than this one here if you can believe it.
Keegan, showing off how well the Bliss Stick Scud can surf.
Here are Keegan and Jimmy, stretching their legs and taking a little time to relax on the Quijos River.

On a high water run down the Upper Cosanga, we saw these dudes skillfully using the cable crossing. They are working on replacing the bridge here, but in the meantime they hook themselves up to this cable via a rope harness, clip into the pulley and start pulling. Not sure who was having more fun.
Then we went to Tena...Chris here is splashing off after a muddy, but entertaining hike into the Lower Jondachi.

Saskia and Curt also chilling out after the hike in, and getting prepared for the 15 miles of paddling ahead. Uh, boater cross?

Jimmy seemed to be very attractive to the butterflies on the Jondachi. If you look closely, you'll notice 2 on him--1 on the right side of his helmet, and the other on his neck. These white and black butterflies followed him for the first hour of the run!

Ben checking out the first waterfall of the day.

Yeah, they don't call this the land of the waterfalls for nothing!

Jimmy at the base of the waterfall just above the biggest rapid of the day--Belgium Waffle, aka Follow Don if You Want a Beat Down (just ask Curt about this).
Here we are in Belgium Waffle, or F.D.I.Y.W.AB.D hmmm, it doesn't make such a good acronym.(

Chris at lunch...he stole Jimmy's butterfly's affection.Connie punching through "Hatless Hole" on a high water run of the Jatunyacu.Curt ripping it up in one of the many play features on this run.Ben surfs the Ammo on the Jatunyacu (also called the Upper Napo). This river confluences with the Mishualli just about 20 miles below this surf wave. Further down it is joined by the Quijos/Coca, then flows to the Maranon and becomes the Amazon...

One evening while having happy hour on the porch of our hotel in Tena one of those wily Canadians spotted this Tapir in the river down below us. It was a first for me as far as wildlife sightings go, and we got to watch this little guy while we finished our Pilseners in the twilight. What a way to finish off a great day of kayaking.
We returned to our lodge to find that Lily, Rosa, Memo, and Eduardo had secretly planned an end of the season party for us. Complete with pinatas and all.

I was selected to be the one to hit the pinata--I mean, I was the one selected to put a blind fold on and wander around looking like an idiot swinging a stick around my head.
Then, Ben volunteered to be the idiot with the stick! But at least he is sporting a stellar outfit. (Ben, I am just making fun of you because I know you read the blog and I know you can take it! Thanks for being such a good sport).

At the end of the evening, fun was had by all.
Thanks to everyone who paddled with us in 2007 and 2008. It was a great season, with tons of fun paddling, and many fun evenings at the lodge. I hope you all will have as fond of memories as we do of kayaking in Ecuador!


Well, this is certainly something you don't see everyday. It looks like a bad scene out of a Chevy Chase movie or something...But it did provide some good entertainment on our way to the Cosanga River!