Monday, October 25, 2010

a brief geologic history of time (or really of kayaking in the Andes)

(Typical Basalt formations that we encounter on the Rivers here in Ecuador. This particular formation is just below El Torro Rapid in the El Chaco Section of the Rio Quijos)

So, rather than letting this blog just continue down the path of eye candy and kayaking porn, I've decided to infuse a little substance into it this season (sorry, I know some of you won't like that, but it's got to be done for your sake and mine)!

The 2010 and 2011 Kayaking Season in Ecuador is also going to be the Season of the History of Ecuador from a Kayaker's Perspective (uh, really it’s just from my perspective).

Seeing as I have a masters degree in history and all I thought I'd at least try to use it a little bit!

I know history can sometimes get boring, so I'll try to keep it to interesting-as-possible topics; and hopefully things that are at least somewhat relevant to kayakers.

Don't worry, there will still be trip reports and plenty of kayaking photos (Tarquino just bought a nice camera so we might actually have quality photos this year) but there will also be little interesting tid-bits about Ecuador's history throughout each blog.

To start, I thought I'd look for a topic which all kayakers could appreciate--The Andean Event--AKA the history of the rivers we paddle in Ecuador! This basically involves some plates colliding into each other with a massive force, pushing a lot of material upwards and creating some serious topographical relief.

(Dude! If this is not serious topographical relief, I don't know what is)

To be more specific, this all took place during the late Miocene and early Pliocene ages (about 5 to 7 million years ago depending on how you do the math). Obviously, there was tons of geological formation happening well before this; but the landscape we kayak in today was more or less formed during this era.

The "Andean Event," as described by Kennerley (a geologist dude who wrote on Ecuador for the purpose of oil exploration), "caused a differential vertical movement in the Sierra and folding and thrusting of the Sub Andean Zone in the Oriente."

So what? You might ask.

This uplift and folding and thrusting created what we now call the Cordieralla Real."
And it is in this Cordieralla Real that we find real good kayaking!

Our lodge, near the town of Borja sits in the region between the Cordieralla Real and the Oriente Basin. We are right in the zone of massive “faulting and folding” which I’m pretty sure in kayaker-speak means we are right in the zone of amazing kayaking because was have perfect gradient, tons of different valleys (and therefore rivers), and rugged, incredible topography as a back drop to all this marvelous whitewater.

Because most of the geological investigations were carried out by oil companies, and because they weren’t too interested in oil in Borja (they were very interested in areas near Borja, but, fortunately for us, they didn’t think that Quijos Valley had much petroleum potential), very little studies have been done about the actual rocks we kayak through—I can tell you firsthand, though, that basalt abounds, which makes sense since volcanoes were an integral part of geological formation in the Andes.

(Volcano Antisana, one of the creators of the Basalt, AND headwaters of the Rio Quijos)

Before the volcanic activity, geologists believe that many “red beds” were laid down creating shales, sandstones, limestones and conglomerates. So, our deeper layers are sedimentary rocks, while the upper layers seem to be Extrusive Igneous Rocks mainly (Basalt)—take this all with a grain of salt since I’m just an arm chair geologist. But, anyhow, these red beds are important to the oil people because R.B’s usually contain reservoirs of petroleum which is what attracted oil people/geologists to this area in the first place.

(when you don't have Basalt, you mostly have Granite--which is really good for boofing)

After a few comings and goings of the ocean—laying down more sedimentary rock, all of this was later capped by lavas during various volcanic events—and now we are left with some pretty amazing river canyons. Our rivers have only scratched the surface though in their journey to cut through these layers. In most of our rivers, Igneous rocks of various kinds (basalt and granite mainly) still dominate. We haven’t even begun to cut down to the underlying layers except for a few special spots.

(Here is one of the those special spots! Here, the Rio Quijos has cut through the Basalt down to the limestone layers--but this "tunnel" is super rare, cool, and special--join our Rios Escondidos trip Feb. 5th to see this spot)!

Ok, that’s it for today’s Intro to Andean Geologic History Lesson. Obviously there’s a lot I’ve left out, but I don’t want to overload us on the 1st try!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Going to Ecuador! 4 days and counting!

(Don boofing the entry drop on the South Feather)

Well, we are trying desperately to wrap up our summer tour of "boatin' n promotin'" so that we can leave it all behind us and head to Ecuador! But...our winner of the Small World Adventures kayaking trip is leaving us hanging! Julie W. of Chico, CA won the trip, but we haven't heard back from her yet, therefore she hasn't claimed her prize, therefore she is leaving us in a sort of limbo.

So, if any of you out there know Julie, tell her to get off her bum and email me back to claim her prize! Or, if she doesn't want 7 days of tropical paddling with all food, lodging, shuttles, guiding, and kayak rental paid, that's ok too, but I need to know so I can give it to someone else.
Julie, if you are out there, you have until Nov. 2nd to claim your prize, after that, I'm afraid we'll have to give it to someone else--for everyone else out there, I guess there is still hope for you...

Our last stop on this boatin tour was the South Feather releases in California. I'm still "on the bench" and not allowed to paddle, but I got a few nice shots of Don while he was out representing SWA.

(Don above "Mad Dog" on S. Feather)

And now, finally, it's time for us to turn our attentions to Ecuador. I am particularly excited to get back this year because my return to the Quijos Valley will mean I get to go paddling again for the first time in months!

(Don, random rapid, S. Feather)

We leave in 4 days and I am super excited to get back. Larry is already there and is paddling today--lucky bastard! He's says things are great both in Quito and out at our lodge. The gardens all look incredible, the rivers have good water, and he's psyched to be back in the company of his Ecuadorian community. So, I sit here packing, doing last minute work, and anxiously awaiting getting home to Ecuador.

getting home to good paddling...

good adventures...

And good friends!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Werner Paddle and Jackson Kayak Winners!

(typical river scenery in Ecuador--don't worry kayakers, this flatwater shot was taken for awe purposes, there'll be plenty of whitewater where you're going!)

We'll we are winding up a great summer of "Boatin' and Promotin'" and getting ready for an awesome season in Ecuador!

We only have 1 prize left in this summer's contest but it's a good one! How does 1 week of kayaking in Ecuador sound? Paddle steep creeks whose headwaters are snow capped volcanoes in the Andes Mountains, and big water Amazonian tributaries all in the same week! 1 lucky winner will get to do all this for free!
So, sign up now for your chance to win. We'll draw the winner on October 20th. The trip must be used during our 2010/2011 season.

In the last month of our contest, we've given out 2 big prizes!

(Sunset on the ridges towering above the Quijos River)

Adam C. of Denver, Colorado won the Werner Paddle and Steve W. of Berkeley, California won the Jackson Kayak.

Adam is stoked to use his brand new paddle next season on the Arkansas and Poudre Rivers in Colorado.

Steve is all geared up to put his new Fun to work this fall at the Barking Dog surf wave on the S. Fork American River. Steve already owns a Hero and is stoked to get more into playboating more with his new Jackson Fun.

(Historical and geographical beauty converge in Quito, Ecuador's capital, making it an interesting place to tour around for a couple days before or after your kayaking trip with SWA)

Thanks to all of the participating companies in Small World Adventure's summer tour--

Now we are all gearing up to head back to Ecuador. Just a few more weeks and we'll be chilling on the porch at our lodge, watching the sunset and thinking about another great day of paddling. I hope lots of you can come and join us!

Friday, October 01, 2010

N. Feather River Fest

(Bill Beveridge in the last rapid of the Tobin Run on the N. Feather)

A big thanks to American Whitewater for all their hard work securing river releases throughout the country, like this one on the North Feather. This past weekend there were releases on the Rock Creek, Tobin, and Lobin sections of the North Fork Feather River in California.
Don shot a little bit of head-cam footage of the Tobin run for you all to check out:

There was a huge turn out for the North Fork Feather Festival, and it was an awesome weekend! Thanks to the Chico Paddleheads for putting it on.
Besides a slalom for all level of paddlers, a great raffle, band, and rowdy party, there were also some down river races through the Tobin Section. Here's race results:

(dedicated partiers who finally gave in to sleep along the side of the highway--those are burrs they are sleeping in)

Tobin Race (Long Boat)

1. Taylor Robertson 13:31
2. Charlie Center 13:37
3. Macy Burnham 13:56
4. Scott Ligare 14:07
5. Rush Sturges 14:12
6. Justin Patt 14:457. Robbie Hogg 15:03
8. James McLeod 15:33
9. Zak Quick 15:55
10. Katie Scott 16:45
11. Thomas Moore 17:08
12. Taylor Cavin 39:11
13. Tyler Jose DNF

Tobin Race (Short Boat)

1. Chris Korbulic 14:46
2. Ben Stookesbury 14:49
3. Culley Thomas 15:22
4. Galen Licht 15:24
5. Dave Maurier 15:26
5. Devon Knight 15:26
7. Clancy Thost 15:27
8. Eric Petlock 15:389. Peter Malkin 15:43
10. Stephan Rindshew 15:44
10. Shawn Corbett 15:44
12. Diane Gaydos 15:45
13. Danny Salazar 15:55
14. Kurt Sable 15:58
15. Garett Brown 16:00
16. Darin McQuoid 16:0117. Jean Malec 16:19
18. Sam Solomon 16:27
19. Mike Bell 16:28
20. Luke Liebsch 16:29
21. Shon Bollock 16:40
22. Ryan Knight 16:43
22. Morgan Koons 16:43
24. Alex Wolfgram 16:4725. J.C. Goldrup 17:04
26. Serge 18:23

Sunday Hangover Cup (Mass Start to green Bridge Race, 15 competitors top 3 posted).

Long Boats:
1. Taylor Robertson2. Rush Sturges
3. Macy Burnham

Short Boats:
1. Robby Hogg
2. Chris Harges3. Galen Licht Reply With Quote

(ah, more dedicated Feather Festival goers. These boys had their car broken into somewhere along their journey to get to the festival. But did that stop them? No! They persevered and prevailed! I'm not sure exactly what relevance the boobies have, but nonetheless, way to go boys!)

I'll be blogging soon about the winners of both the Werner Paddle and Jackson Kayak. The paddle has been claimed by the September 15th winner; but the Jackson Kayak winner has not yet responded. I've emailed the winner of the drawing this morning for the Jackson Kayak so check your inboxes!
The winner has 14 days to respond before we draw again.

Now, the only prize left in the drawing is a week-long kayaking vacation in Ecuador with Small World Adventures, if you haven't already, get your entries in! Winner will be drawn October 20th.