Ecuador Kayaking: Feb. 6-14 class IV+. No Rest For The Weary.

Mary DeRiemer_Cosanga_Ecuador_kayaking
Mary shows the way at "Random Acts" on the Rio Cosnaga.

Let’s call this a hasty post:

After many years of cajoling we finally got our good friend Dave to come down and join us in Ecuador. He, in turn, brought his friend Lance, now living in Hong Kong. If we were handing out awards, Lance would win the one for the furthest distance traveled. Lance was also in Bhutan with us in 2008 where he won the award for the least distance traveled. Another dynamic duo, this time from Southern California, were Randy and George. Mary knew George from a time when they both used to work for N.O.C. in N.C. We knew Randy from the instructor training he did with Mary on our local river back home.  Bob, who always likes to be different, traveled alone and still boats a C-1, he was here for his 8th(?) time and won the award for paddling more Ecuadorian river miles in a plastic C-1 than anyone. Last, but not least, is Chris, also traveling alone. He wins the award for getting on my good side by bringing me some really nice chocolate for my birthday. Thoughtful fellow that Chris. Continue reading “Ecuador Kayaking: Feb. 6-14 class IV+. No Rest For The Weary.”

Ecuador Kayaking: Jan 16-24 Class III+

Bus with kayakers.
Arriving in style with room for a Kate's kayak underneath.

A photo of a bus seems like an odd way to start a post, but this one comes with a story.  We commonly do back-to-back trips. One trip returns to Quito on Saturday and the next group goes out on Sunday. We are with each group throughout the transition.  Well, when you find out on Saturday that transportation you had hoped to use on Sunday is no longer reliable, as we did, you get busy! I’d like to think that this is one of the many areas where experience and contacts come into play.  With just two phone calls to transportation companies we know, we were covered -in luxury. While the big bus was more vehicle than we needed, our group got a very comfy ride over Papallacta Pass to Borja and the Quijos Valley.

Group on Bus, Ecuador
The group enjoying the ride in style. (L to R: Deb, Mary, Steve, Dane, Kate and Kristi.)

The highest flow of the season greeted us at the put-in of our “warm up” stretch. In comparison to any previous year’s flows, this still rated as high water. We were also greeted by our friend and fellow guide, Jaime Dalg0. He was finishing up a raft trip just as we arrived. We jumped at the chance to have his company and extra coverage on a normally easy stretch. We ran safely and quickly down routes that were bone dry the day before. Wave trains were Grand Canyon-esque! It was an exciting run without too much “novedad”!

Leaving the still-high flows behind, we headed to Tena a day early and had a fun paddle on the Jatunyacu. This too, fortuitously, had the highest water we’d seen this year. But on the Jatunyacu that’s a good thing! It’s wide open wave trains had everyone smiling.

Beams of light on Jatunyacu
Taking time out for a side hike along the Rio Jatunyacu.

The week featured two runs on the Jondachi/Hollin. Despite the mud hike in and the long day, the group loved this run and chose to do it a second time. The first run featured a torrential rainstorm that caused us to scurry into our boats after lunch. Side streams swelled quickly and waterfalls appeared out of nowhere! Continue reading “Ecuador Kayaking: Jan 16-24 Class III+”

Ecuador Kayaking: The Andean Cock Of The Rock

Andean Cock of the Rock
The brilliant coloring of the male Andean Cock of the Rock or Gallo de Peña. Author Jerry Tompson- Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.

First off, I didn’t take this photo. It takes a lot of patience, a big lens and a truckload of luck to get a shot of this bird in the wild. This one was photographed at the San Diego Zoo. We consider ourselves lucky if we get to see one of these birds a season. When you see it, you know it. Imagine a chicken-sized bird the color of an orange safety-cone, flying across a background of green foliage. Needless to say, they stand out! In our  experience, they are also extremely bashful and highly-skilled at evading being viewed once they have landed. As with many species, the females have what the males want, so there is no need to don such extravagant plumage.  Instead, the female’s coloring is a crisp rust, which makes her harder to spot. Continue reading “Ecuador Kayaking: The Andean Cock Of The Rock”

Ecuador Kayaking Class IV: The Trip That Laughed

Group of kayakers in Ecuador.
The gang.

If you’re a kayaker reading this post, you know how quickly this sport can bring a group of people together.  This week was a shining example of that positive synergy. Laughter, camaraderie and some friendly ribbing were common place, as well as some really interesting conversations. Guys and gals were equally represented and their boating skills were solid throughout.

Kayaker boofing, Ecuador
Ann P. boofing in the third person (a little inside joke).

Compared to previous weeks, this one was wetter. That was good, the rivers could use it and the group could handle it. I think I’ll let the photos do the talking on this post. You can also check out a trip report from Geoff J. on his site for more about the trip and some of the exploring he did afterwards. Thanks to Merida, Ann, Annie, Arn, Dave and Geoff for a great week! Continue reading “Ecuador Kayaking Class IV: The Trip That Laughed”

Ecuador Kayaking: Jan 2-10 Class IV-

Kayaker on Cosanga river.
Arn S. running one of the many great rapids on the lower Cosanga.

“Small and nimble” would be a good way to describe our week in early January.  Scott D. and his 17 year-old son James were down for their first time, while Arn was back for his third trip, doing a double-header this year. Unfortunately for us, Arn’s wife Deborah passed on Ecuador this season. She was busy preparing for their upcoming 6 week mountain-bike adventure in Patagonia (click here for their blog). Fortunately, she did send down a batch of her personally handcrafted truffles, complete in their elaborately decorated box, design specifically for us!  With orders not to conserve them but to relish them while fresh (as no perservatives were used in the making) I can hardly get my skirt on! Continue reading “Ecuador Kayaking: Jan 2-10 Class IV-“

Ecuador Kayaking: New Year’s trip Class IV-

Kayaker Muneca in Ecuador
Getting into the New Year spirit with a not-so-traditional muneca.

We kicked off our first trip of the season with a group over the New Year.  I’ve written before about the Ecuadorian tradition of creating an effigy that represents the old year.  These “año viejos” are often intended to poke fun at politicians, family members, friends or enemies.  The idea is that you burn it on New Year’s eve and these negative traits will go up in flames.  If only it were that simple.  After explaining this to our group, everyone was into participating.  We stuffed some paddling gear with newspaper, put on a life vest and had a helmet ready to go, all we needed was a head. Paper mache heads and masks can often be purchased from roadside vendors as you drive out of Quito.  Seeing the variety of masks available often gives you insight into world events as viewed through the eyes of Ecuadorians.  It took awhile to find a suitable candidate, but one of the group ran across a rather warped attempt at the head of Bart Simpson.  Always looking for a humorous twist, we attached the head and helmet and mounted the torso figure on the front of our stack of boats. Our van could be seen traveling the roads with Bart proudly on display.  It wasn’t until later that we found that Bart was actually being used to make a political statement.  Seems the current government had censored the show here in Ecuador- oops!

Kayaker surfing wave Rio Quijso, Ecuador
Gayne catching a surf somewhere on the Rio Quijos downstream of Borja.

Enough of politics, we were here to boat.  Gayne, Chuck, Toby, Jean Marie and Debbie made up our group.  We had paddled with all but Debbie before on other trips from the Grand Canyon and Middle Fork to here, in Ecuador. Ecuadorian kayaker and Tena local, Jaime Dalgo, rounded out our guide staff. Continue reading “Ecuador Kayaking: New Year’s trip Class IV-“

Ecuador- Check, Check, Check.

Rickie Alzamora on the Rio Piatua.

We are now in Ecuador ready and waiting to start our season with our first trip on December 25th.  Phil had a marathon 8 days of paddling this past week in the Quijos and Tena areas checking for changes on all of the various runs with our good friend Rickie Alzamora. They even dragged Ecuadorian River Institute director Matt Terry out of his office for a few days. Mary focused on lining up logistics so things are ready to go. Continue reading “Ecuador- Check, Check, Check.”

Ecuador- Good News From The Road(s)

Super hombre doing roadwork the hard way.

We recently got some good news from our friends in Ecuador.  After years of broken promises from the Ecuadorian government, false starts, and a pinch of corruption, the final stretches of road improvements between Quito and Tena, to the east, have been completed.  This ties in nicely with paved stretches from Baeza down along the Quijos river valley, up the Cosanga and over the Guacamayo mountain range.  In theory this means that all of our driving for this upcoming season, with the exception of short put-in and take-out segments, will be on pavement.  Driving times will be greatly reduced leaving us more time to enjoy the rivers and feeling less like a freshly mixed can of paint. Continue reading “Ecuador- Good News From The Road(s)”

Ecuador- Season Wrap Up And A Little Time To Relax.

A different kind of surfing. Hammock view from our hotel in Tena.

The end of the season for us is usually a mixed bag of work in the form of closing out the season, preparing for the next season, visiting friends and putting our feet up for a bit.  This year our down time started with us heading back over the hill from Quito to Tena to hook up with Nelson Jr. and his friend Fabricio.  We’ve known Nelson for some time as he and his family own and operate the hotel we use there.  For a number of years now Nelson has expressed an interest in kayaking but our schedules never matched up until now.  We got in a couple of days on the Rio Tena before we all had to get down to the business of Carnival.

Nelson and Fabricio are all smiles on the Rio Tena. Yes, Nelson's paddle is backwards, it was after all, his first day.

Continue reading “Ecuador- Season Wrap Up And A Little Time To Relax.”