Some of this has been copy/pasted from emails I sent, so if tenses shift midway, please excuse.
I decided to take a Trip on Tuesday Jan 5th. On Sat, the 9th I left for Ecuador.
After some flight delays, I got into Quito at about 11 pm Sat. Night. I was pretty beat, and though my hotel was located near a noisy disco, I fell right asleep. 8am found me at the hotel lobby, meeting my group. 2 guides, and 6 paddlers. 3 guys, 3 girls. Ages 30-46. Everyone married, but not traveling with their spouses (except for our Guides, the Fantastic and Super Phil and Mary DeReimer of AdventureKayaking.com. Super nice, friendly crew.
Sunday was a 1/2 travel day, we drove over a nearly14,000 foot pass to the Town of Borja, where we have a very nice lodge. We outfitted boats, and went for a short class III paddle on the Quijos , followed by dinner.
Monday was awesome. We woke up, had yummy breakfast, and went for a long paddle. Fun, class IV paddling, very continuos, but nothing super hard. About 5.5 hours on the river. We paddled on the Cosanga, to the confluence with the Quijos, and then paddled the Quijos. Saw an Andean Cock-in-the-Rock and many, many other birds. VERY, VERY, VERY cool.
Early on Day 3 we left Borja and went to Tena, about an hours drive away. We stopped on the way to do a really pretty river, though the water was a bit low. This was the Rio Misahualli. It was fun, and I think would be super classic with more water.
After paddling, we headed to Tena, which seems to be a bit of a rough place. Not dangerous, just very impoverished, gritty and run down. Our hotel is nice, and the area is gorgeous, but not much else interesting about Tena. If you weren´t paddling, I can´t imagine wanting to spend much time here. There is an incredible steak restaurant. The steak place has several pet sloths, which was cool. And the rivers nearby are fantastic. Simply incredible. So good.
We seem to be in a bit of a dry spell, so many of the rivers are a little low. Today, we did two laps on the upper stretch of a river, the Piatua, and it was awesome. Not very high volume water, but steep, fun and fast. the river channelized nicely, meaning the low water wasn´t an issue. I bet the run is stomping hard with high flows.
The first time through, we took our time, looking at a few spots, talking about the moves, etc. Second time through, we just blasted. First lap took 2.5 hrs, second was 50 minutes. SOOO much fun. The group (6 paddlers, 2 guides) has melded really well, I feel like I´ve been boating with them for years. Every one looks out for each other, and all seem to be strong paddlers of similar skill. I don´t think anyone is bored with the paddling, and no one seems in over their head. Such a cool, perfect trip. If we had a little more water it would be just a bit better, but it´s still awesome.
Another dinner at the steakhouse. So good. all 8 people had huge, delicious steaks, some drinks, etc, and the tab for the table was well under $100. Maybe some of the best steak I´ve ever had.
It´s hot as heck in Tena. I wish I´d brought some more clean shirts. I might have to send a few out for laundry, if I´m not paddling, and not in A/C, I´ve just got sweat pouring down my body. Running out of non-stinky shirts. Tough to stay hydrated too, but I´m doing it, pretty much always drinking something. The sun is brutal, we´re almost on the Equator, so I´ve been using the sunscreen 2-4 times a day. So far, no red.
We paddled the Lower Jondachi today. Easier than some of the other stuff we did, but probably the prettiest run we did. Some really fun rapids too. Steep canyon walls, wild orchids, and the several Blue Morpho butterflies, huge blue butterflies the size of a large saucer. The put in was interesting. My truck arrived last, and there was a group of German boaters who had arrived even before our first truck. The put in was crowded with locals, who appeared eager to earn a few dollars carrying boats to the put in. I felt a bit weird having tiny Ecuadorean women carry my boat for me, normally I’m offering to carry for others! But not long into the steep, muddy, hot, humid hike, I wasn’t going to complain.
Day 6 and 7 we were back on the Quijos, running a longer section than we’d run on Day 1, that included a few bigger, more technical rapids. Our group had truly melded by then, and it really just felt like paddling with my freinds. Jokes flew, people watched out for each other, and it was grand. Really, truly awesome.
On Day 7, Sat, we headed back over the pass to Quito. We had a big steak dinner that night to say goodbyes, and all too soon, 1/2 our group was heading home. Phil and Mary would be picking up a new group in the morning. Ann and Merida had invited me to join them Mtn Biking on Cotopaxi, so it wasn’t quite time for our goodbyes.
Another early start to the day, but this time, no paddling gear. I was joining Anne and Merida to bike Cotopaxi. Anne described it in an email as follows:
ap made it home in one piece after geoff, merida and i nearly perished from hypothermia at 15,000 feet and all developed an unusual case of sudden-onset black lung on our mountain biking adventure. we took a tour that involved getting taken up cotopaxi in a 4WD vehicle and dropped off to coast on “mountain bikes” downhill. at the top, the wind was blowing at about 40-50mph (you do the metric conversion) and the temp was freezing. and did i mention the sleet? we were all laughing pretty hard about it and geoff had the quote of the day when he approached merida and me and said, “i hate you both!” it warmed up as we descended and that is when the dust cloud hit! we coughed our way back to quito. overall, a comical adventure. i am also certain that we did not have the ace guide of the biking dutchman roster!i had such a great time hanging out on and off the water with y’all. if you are ever in boise, you are always welcome to stay at our place!yours, as always, in the third person,ap