Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Win a Jackson Zen October 1st!

Win a Jackson Zen on October 1st through Small World Adventure's summer gear giveaway!

I was stoked to test out my new Jackson Zen in the Pacific Northwest this April. Some Portland-area paddlers who had been kayaking in Ecuador with us last winter wanted to show us the goods in their own backyards, so we got quite the tour.
We hit the East Fork Lewis, Canyon Creek and Opal Creek all within a 2-day span which gave me a lot of time with my new Zen!
My impressions? All good!

The most striking feature is the Zen’s speed. This boat really goes awesomely fast, which came in handy on Opal Creek. The water was pretty high and there were a few holes to punch and I was happy to have the extra speed.
The boat also edges well, is super stable on its edge, rolls incredibly easily and, despite being pegged as a “river running” boat, it boofed great too! I didn’t have any trouble getting the nose up and launching the Zen!
I’m am really looking forward to guiding out of this boat next season in Ecuador. It’ll be the perfect boat on Ecuador’s continuous, medium to large volume rivers. And it’s super comfy so I won’t mind sitting in it 5 hours a day, 7 days a week!
Small World Adventures will definitely be adding the Zen line to our fleet of boats in Ecuador, so if you want to try one out next winter you can!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Win a Werner Paddle on September 15th!

The entire SWA Team uses Werner paddles and we think you should too!

 Don and Darcy dashing down bountiful boulder gardens.  Werners are good for "couples boofing" down the Papallacta

That’s why we are giving one out on September 15th!

We’ve found them to be the lightest, most durable paddles on the market and have been happily guiding with Werner paddles and playing with Werner paddles for decades now!

Werner Paddles are handcrafted in the USA, which is also a big plus.
 Werner says, “We produce the lightest, strongest paddles available.  We design every aspect to work together to increase power and reduce fatigue.” 

SWA guides have tested these paddles heavily both in Ecuador and all over the world and we couldn’t agree more!

Enjoy some photos of the SWA staff using their Werner’s in Ecuador:

 Larry loving how the Werner blade grabs the water to help pull him through the crux of "Wafflera" on the Hollin River
 Don discovers that Werners are good for bracing...

 And for boofing!

 Greg grateful for the power of his Shogun on a high water run down the Lower Cosanga

 Tarquino titillated by the ease in transition between draw and forward stroke on one of his favorite home runs--the Lower Jondachi/Hollin combo

 Liam laughingly faces the power of Gringos Reveultos at lavishly high water levels because he knows his Werner will carry him through the humongous hydraulic

Guy gracefully grabs water with his Werner to carry him over the hole in Disco-Tech on the Piatua

 Darcy Dumb Dumb for covering up her Werner logo.  But hey, at least it was a cool sticker to cover it up with!

And, don't worry, just because you paddle with a Werner does NOT mean you must use alliteration...that's just what happens when I drink too much coffee while blogging!

For your chance to win a Werner paddle, visit Small World Adventures to enter.  You'll need to read our homepage to get the answers to 4 easy questions, then click the "win" link, answer the questions, hit submit and you are good to go! 

We'll draw the winner on September 15th.

Good luck!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Class III boaters do, INDEED, belong in Ecuador!

Class III kayaking in Ecuador!

Tarquino admiring the beauty of his homeland on the Lower Jondachi

For years people have had the misconception that kayaking in Ecuador is only for people who want to run the “gnar.”  This myth is constantly perpetuated by spectacular photos of hard whitewater coming from the jungles of the Amazon Basin (we are guilty of this ourselves).

 Doesn't get any better than the smooth granite boulders and clear waters of many of Ecuador's creeks

But this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Ecuador is a kayaker’s paradise no matter what level of paddler you are.  It is an ideal place to learn kayaking as the rivers and air are warm, access is easy and there are a plethora of runs in the Class I and II level.

 Devon Barker surfs a sweet wave in the sunshine on the Rio Quijos not too far downstream of SWA's lodge

Moving up to the Class III , III+ and even IV- range, you can base yourself in the bustling jungle town of Tena and have a handful of world class rivers at your disposal.  The Rios Jantuyacu, Misahualli, Anzu, and the Lower Jondachi are all perfect training grounds for the Class III boater.  What’s more is that you’ll probably see monkeys, parrots and maybe even a toucan while paddling these gems! 

  A monkey chilling out at the take out of one of Tena's great Class II/III runs the Upper Napo

Then, once you’ve warmed up in Tena, you can move on over to the Quijos Valley.  Basing yourself out of Small World Adventure’s riverside lodge you’ll lack in nothing pertaining to your daily comforts and can focus on the new challenges of the Upper Cosanga and the Quijos Rivers.  The Upper Cosanga is a technical boater’s delight as you make you way through boulder gardens set down in a beautiful basalt canyon.  Bird watchers from all over the world come to the Cosanga area to look for rare bird species so keep your eyes open as you make your way downstream.

 Paddlers stoked on the Class III boulder gardens around Tena

Then, when you are ready for the Pica Piedra run on the Quijos, you can just wake up at SWA’s lodge, have coffee and breakfast and then put in right in front of the lodge.  This medium volume run has a great variety of character.  It starts out technical and also has a few constricted places to give you a super fun, big water feel!

 Beautiful skies and scenery are the back drop to the exciting, pool-drop rapids of the Jatunyacu

After a few hours of Quijos fun, you can come back to the lodge and celebrate your amazing Class III kayaking vacation in Ecuador with a beer on the porch.

 Larry and Jennifer enjoying hot weather on the Misahualli.  Please note the shorty tops!

So, all you Class III boaters out there, toss your mistaken beliefs behind and come see for yourselves all that Ecuador has to offer you!

 Everywhere you look in Ecuador there are vibrant colors and cool critters!

Your “gnar” friends will all be jealous when you bring home photos of spectacular waterfall-ridden canyons, awesome Class III rapids, and smiling faces of the Ecuadorian kids you meet along the rivers.

 Here's to a great week of paddling in Ecuador!
We brought both creek boats AND playboats for this crew's last day on the river so they could do it all before heading home.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Big Water, Steep Creeks, Jungle, Mountains, and Rain--What More Does A Kayaker Need?

Darcy running the confluence rapid on the Papallacta River

Since April 15th, Don and my travels have taken us over innumerable miles and down many amazing and memorable rivers throughout Colorado, California, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Norway, Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria.  While we’ve had many wonderful experiences, one feeling continues to prevail—I miss Ecuador!  No matter what shapes and forms of awesomeness we encounter out in the world, so far, none have captivated me as much as life in Ecuador has.
 Chris on the Upper Oyacachi

Over the past 11 years of guiding in Ecuador, the country has become home to me.  And I not only mean that in a cheesy, sentimental, "home is where the heart is" kind of way; I also mean it literally!  Right now, it’s the only home I’ve got (unless you count my red pick up truck and a few rental cars here and there).  But what all this traveling has made me realize is that I couldn’t have asked for a better home.

 Close behind the boating, the fresh fruit and veggies are one of the things that make life so good in Ecuador--especially when you are a vegan!

As our season approaches, I often catch myself daydreaming about being back in Ecuador living out my perfect day: 
Get up with the sunrise and a myriad of tropical birds making a ruckus.  Enjoy the cool and quiet of morning while I drink coffee, organize my boating gear and wake up.  Have a hearty, traditional breakfast of plantains, garlic, beans, avocados, and rice and then head out boating.   

 Don leading a crew down the Bridge to Bridge section on the Quijos

My ideal day of boating in Ecuador would be a high water day on the Oyacachi—the higher the better for that river!   I love the feeling of being rapidly swept down a steep creek with the volume of a big river.  Although there are holes big enough to eat an Ecuadorian chicken bus at high levels, the river just flows well.  If you can relax into the power of the river and the main flow, you’ll more often than not find yourself just where you needed to be.  

 Katherine enjoying one of those awesome big water days on the Oyacachi

 Devon Barker enjoying some big water fun.  Luckily she grew up paddling in Idaho so she is used to this sort of thing!

Or, if things are medium or low, I can always “settle” for a Papallacta/Cheesehouse combo.  10 miles of continuous Class IV/V boof-filled, boulder-gardens is not a bad plan B mind you.  You’ll feel it in the ol’ kayaking muscles after this one!

 Darcy boofing down the Cheesehouse section of the Quijos

Then, I’ll head back to Small World Adventure’s riverside lodge.  Once home, my favorite activities are to take a hot shower, then settle into the porch with a cold Pilsiner and relax my way into nice post-boating-buzz as I watch hummingbirds dart around the gardens and watch the intense Amazonian sun set behind the Andes.  

 You can always find a good adventure in Ecuador if you are willing to look

Knowing I get to wake up and do it all again tomorrow makes it easy to drift off to sleep hearing nothing but the soothing hum of the Quijos River.

 Antisana, headwaters of the Quijos River

I will have to suffer through some mountain biking in Colorado and a trip down the Grand Canyon before my day dreams become my reality; but I will be back home soon enough…

 Chris enjoying an afternoon run down the Cheesehouse section