Friday, February 29, 2008

KAYAKING ECUADOR FEB. 9TH-17TH

Well, yep, this photo here pretty much sums it all up! Here is Christy clowning around at one of the put ins.February 9th-17th, we had a crew from Arizona, Wisconsin, and Tennessee--Peter, Pete, Trey, Christy, and Ken. We had a little more rain than we had expected, and so ended up paddling quite a bit of big water over the 7 days (although we did get in the Upper Cosanga and Upper Mis to satisfy our creeking needs). Despite Trey's hate of big water, he seemed to come around in the end and was able to see some of its virtues:)Here is our beloved Sprinter looking good on the Way to Tena. If anyone is wondering, Antisana is the 18, 871 foot tall Volcanoe that makes the headwaters of the Quijos River.
Pete and Darcy using our lodge-front put in for Day 1's Pica Piedra run.


Here we are at the put in for the Upper Cosanga. I'm quite certain that Trey does not speak Spanish, and that these kids do not speak much English, but Trey somehow entertained them for a full 1/2 hour here...I wonder what they were talking about?



















Don and Peter relaxing on the porch one morning before breakfast. I'd also like to take this time to point out to everyone that Peter E. is a model SWA kayaker, and you all should aspire to be like him. Peter lives in AZ where paddling in the winter can sometimes be hard to come by. But, he spent the month before his trip to Ecuador training, both in the pool in his kayak, but also on dry land just getting in shape for his week of paddling. We wish everyone would follow your model Peter! People often regret being in bad shape when they come to Ecuador, but as Peter showed us, there are things you can do to fix that:) Thanks Peter.

Rio Malo Falls.


Unfortunately, all 3 of our Small World cameras had some water issues this week (moisture and fog in the camera) so were weren't able to get those wonderful whitewater shots like we normally do. So, I thought I would dedicate the rest of this week's blog to some of Ecuador's other attributes--namely its wildlife.


This is a Scarlet Macaw, and these birds are HUGE. They always fly in pairs, and are quite a sight to see soaring high above the canopy. We are working on a new trip for next year--we are calling it the "RIOS ESCONDIDOS" trip. On our 3 scouting missions to this new region we saw tons of these Scarlet Macaws. On our first trip there, we got to the bottom of a rapid to find Don frantically pointing skyward and we looked up to see at least 12 of these birds flying out of a tree.
How can the world's largest rodent (Capybara) be so damn cute?

















This guy (Caymen) is slightly less cute, but pretty neat nonetheless. Don't worry, we don't encounter these on the river (Capybaras yes, Caymens no). They live in slower moving water than where we typically paddle.


And, of course, the obligitory monkey...


PARTING SHOT


















Hello, I'm 10 and I'll be your guide.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

SURFING THE THING

video

I'm still working on the post for last week's trip, but here is something to tide you over until then. All the forces of nature conspired to make the Quijos River and the Oyacachi River just high enough (but not too high) to render the "Thing" at their confluence surfable.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

ECUADOR--WEEK OF CREEKING

February 2nd-10th a group of paddlers from all across the US converged on Ecuador to tackle some of the country's most classic creeks. Water levels and energy levels cooperated and made for an outstanding week of paddling.We ran 2 sections of the Quijos River, the Oyacachi River, Piatua, Upper Jondachi, and 2 sections of the Cosanga, for a total of 7 wonderful days of paddling. The big news of this trip was massive flooding that hit both the Jondachi and the Mishualli Rivers. See below in the "Jondachi Section" for some of the changes we discovered.

The Piatua served up some crystal clear water (as it usually does) and a full day of boof, after boof, after boof....













Crossing the Anzu River on the way to the Piatua put in. What do you think? Will they fit? In case the suspense it killing you, they did fit, but only by about 3 inches.Larry V. leads the crew down through "Discotec."













Gerald DeLong grinding the rock slide in "Dame su Gasolina." Tim heading into one of the Piatua's many boofs.













And now...for the big news--the new and improved JONDACHI. Over the summer of 2007 some big floods had changed the Jondachi somewhat for the worse. A few pieces of wood and some new seives created more portages that one normally likes to do on the Upper J. But the flood of Feb. 4th, 2008, changed things back for the better. Don was very happy to report this to us after his scouting mission! (see next week's blog for Mishualli update).See that big pile of logs up on the old bridge support on river left? The river was REALLY high!














Matt DeLong nails his boof in a rapid that previously had wood in it.
And, perhaps the best news of all, Tres Huevos is back baby! The 2 sieves that had opened up between the big boulders have now been plugged back up. What had been a long and somewhat sketchy portage, is now back to the same ol' fun rapid it was a few years back. Everything from the entrance to the exit are good, good, good. Here is Peter Z. boofing the exit.
Gerald seems to be attracting the butterflies. At one point, there were over 20 circling him. Not sure if it was his pretty yellow boat or his sweet personality!

Kristin lining up on a classic ledge on the Upper Jondachi.

Jason, at the rapid above the put in. This is the only thing that truly changed for the worse. The classic boof along the river left wall is now only about 1.5 feet tall, and there are a bunch of logs blocking the river left exit. As you can see, most of the water is diverted to the river right channel. It is still a fun and picturesque drop, just not the ol' guidebook cover classic.












Chris Korbulic., our free trip winner from this summer's contest, taking full advantage of his winnings.

Here is his again. Chris was super psyched that he had won the trip with us, and after busing his way through South America for the last month, a week of paddling was a more than welcome change of pace. While contemplating the clear water, granite boulders, and amazing ferns hanging off the wall behind him, Chris came up with these thoughts about his week with us: "Everything from the guiding to the eating was first class, and really, I was blown away with the quality classic whitewater. After taking some unexpected time away from kayaking, my week with SWA really made me feel like a kayaker again."
We are glad we could help Chris! It was great paddling with you.














Jason S., representing Outdoorplay http://www.outdoorplay.com/ Man he looks good!

A few other Jondachi changes of note:

The seive/siphon in the middle of Typhoid Falls is plugged up again, so that rapid is back to normal BUT it is still a bit risky to run as one of the exit channels after the actual Typhoid Falls (the channel where most of the water is going) has a nasty log in it. Scout for sure!

There is also a pretty nasty log in a rapid that we call the "Vortex of Doom." It is the rapid, just AFTER the rapid that Chris is standing above in the photo with the foot bridge and the pretty ferns. Easy to sneak right of it. Other than those major changes, there were lots of little subtle and fun changes.












We were greeted back at our lodge with a beautiful sunny afternoon. After 3 nights away, the sunshine, the beautiful lodge, and Lili's wonderful cooking were all welcomed.
Larry leading Gerald and Matt (father and son) down the Lower Cosanga.

















Besides being full of world class whitewater, Ecuador is also pretty full of world class scenery. Matt taking it all in.


PARTING SHOT

















I don't know what to say, besides that this is one crazy flower! And yes, it is real.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Jan. 26th Class IV Raft Trip

Small World Adventures just finished our first and best rafting trip of 2008. We had a good crew of folks from TX, IL, CT, and CO here for the week (or part of the week in Chris and Christy's case), and we got to see some amazing parts of Ecuador from the comfort of our blue inflatable.
Day 1: Everyone met for breakfast in our hotel in Quito. Then, we headed out across the Andes to Ecuador's Amazonian watershed. After settling in to Small World's deluxe riverside lodge (www.cabanastresrios.blogspot.com) we ate a gourment lunch prepared by our chef Lili. Then we all donned our river digs, had a river briefing and paddled the Quijos River. We did a section that begins about 4 miles upstream of our lodge, and convieniently, ends right at our lodge. Nothing better than stepping out of the raft right into a hot shower!


My Mom was in Ecuador this week as well, and we dicided to try out the ol' Shredder. Here we are doing the first mother/daughter shredder descent of the Quijos River. Hopefully Paddler Magazine will pick up this story! www.paddlermagazine.com













Here is the whole gang enjoying the Quijos.
These are the guest cabins at our lodge. Everyone gets their own room with a private bathroom, hammock, gear drying area, and spectacular view of the Quijos and Borja River Valleys.













Team Raft enjoying breakfast at the lodge.
Day 2: Lower Quijos. Not a bad spot to stop for lunch.
Larry and crew navigating one of the many rapids on this run. Everyone enjoying views of the deep canyon of the Lower Quijos. Many people call this run the "Grand Canyon" of the south (it's just a little bit shorter, and you can do it in a day:))
















And Memo is the best damn shuttle driver in Ecuador. Yes, those are ice cold Pilseners that he brought to the take out for us. Day 3: Lower Jondachi/Hollin. A nice technical run to start, big water fun to finish. Good scenery throughout!













Big waves = big fun on the Hollin.
Day 4: Jatunyacu, or Upper Napo. More big water fun. Ann and Kerry led the charge at the front of the raft on this run. They had plenty of huge waves to crash their way through.





Kerry and Bill enjoying a side hike up a slot canyon on the Jatunyacu. We took a little monkey excurion afterwards. You can't leave Ecuador without seeing monkeys!














For days 5 and 6 we were back on the Quijos River. Day 5 we paddled from the Bypass Bridge down to our lodge, and day 6 we paddled the mighty El Chaco Canyon. Everyone made it through El Torro in one piece!
Day 7: after a trip to the Papallacta Hot Springs, we all went back to Quito. Larry took the crew out to dinner then out for a nighttime tour of Old Town.
Great rafting with you all!