Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kayak away the "not quite summer, not quite winter" blues in Ecuador

New SWA guide Liam showing the gang how it's done on the Oyacachi river.  I love the up swell of water just in front of him.  And now he's about to show us how it's done in the world of blogging!
This week, new SWA guide--Liam--has written a fabulous blog.  He was so inspired by Chris, Steve, Kim, Todd and Paul that he just couldn't hold it all inside any longer!  I've put "American" translation in italics when need be.  Here's what ol' Liam had to say about his 1st week of kayak guiding in Ecuador in 2012:

Chris punches the last hole in Manana on the Quijos River as his trip mates look on.  I would like to think they were cheering him on, but knowing Steve, I'm sure it was only heckling coming from behind that rock!

Our "Torrents" week is all about variety and showing our visitors some of the best rivers Ecuador has to offer. This week certainly lived up to it; from big water on the Quijos in dry cags (dry tops) to technical beautiful blue water in shortie cags (shorty tops) on the Piatua. The paddling is only part of the trip--albeit a very important part--But at SWA we strive to give you an incredible week of paddling combined with Ecuadorian culture and a wee bit of sight seeing as well! 

The Crew feeling good at the bottom of a tricky rapid on the Oyacachi

No matter what trip you book on, we create a great blend of adventure and ease. Remote jungle runs, exotic wildlife, fun cultural experiences, great white water complimented by seamless logistics, comfortable transport, a great selection of boats and most of all the SWA riverside lodge.

One of the guest cabins amongst the beautiful gardens at SWA's riverside lodge

This was my first week guiding for Small World Adventures and I had a blast! So I owe a big thank you to Todd, Paul, Chris, Steve and Kim.   We bagged seven grade four (Class IV) runs in seven days. Though we don't focus on tuition (instruction) on our Torrents trip it's hard not to improve when you have seven quality days in a row on the water. For one paddler this was his first time paddling more than two days in a row and it was a real treat for me to see a significant improvement in his paddling.

Team torrents also got to paddle with almost the whole SWA team. Larry, Tarquino, Don and Darcy all spent a couple of days with the group. Only I had the severe misfortune of being in Steve and Chris's company for the entire seven days!

Paul looking good through "The Last Rapid" on the Oyacachi River.  Now his only challenge is to face "The Thing" and "Son of Thing" on the Quijos.

For the Torrents team here is a list of what we paddled and  my personal highlights of the week.

Day 1.) Bridge 1 to the lodge on the Quijos. Todd surfed harder than Swayze in point break in the middle of Pollo Sin Rival.  But he hung tough and endered out with a nice story to tell!

Kim lining up for the boof in "Pollo Sin Rival" on the Quijos

Day 2.) Bottom of Oyacachi to Bon Bon.  Steve nailed a sure fast roll resulting in his avoidance of a sure scrambling in Gringos Revueltos. Paul and Kim successfully unlocked a tricky entrance to a good play wave and enjoyed a good surf. Later, while drinking beers on the porch back at the lodge, we were treated to a impressive humming bird fight.



Mr. Don Don looking good in "Ejector Seat"

Day 3.) Oyacachi. This was one of the harder runs but the group was in that perfect state of being warmed up but not too tired yet and, on the whole, styled it.  Then we made the journey over the pass to the warmer Tena Valley.  The whole group was in good spirits from a fine day on the water and we spent most of dinner telling stories and laughing. A Particularly good story about a kabutz, 2 girls and some ....sea food is still making me laugh.


The Road Not Taken: "2 roads diverged in a 'green' wood.  And I'm sorry I could not travel both,
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth..."
(well, sorry Robert Frost, but actually I wasn't sorry at all because my taxi driver knew that the left fork was blocked by a giant tree.  Don's driver did not know...so we had a good laugh at their expense).  

Day 4.) Piatua. A river made up of round boulders, boofs, and blue water this is one of my top three rivers off all time.  We explored Tena that evening and stumbled across a volleyball match. The atmosphere was great on the sidelines and the teams themselves were getting pretty heated. I think I'll go watch a match every week to make up for missing the premier league (soccer league) at home.


Steve navigates the hallway of giant boulders

Day 5.) This day we were lucky enough too see tarantulas and monkeys both before we'd even  had breakfast. The team spent the day boofing in shortie cags (shorty tops) on the Upper Misahualli. We got out at a quaint jungle lodge which is an excellent place to relax and cool down with a drink.

Don doing "Da Boof" on da Oyacachi (thanks for the photo Paul)!

Day 6.) we tackled the Lower Cosanga. With Chris not on the river Steve thought the time was right to have a little dip. I thought that it might shake him but half way through the next wave train he became a man possessed as he drove through every stopper (hole) and wave he could see.


Todd, recovering well after having a massive surf, but the bad ass dude still managed to pull it together and be perfectly on line here!

Day 7.) The final day: we ran the el Chaco Canyon from the lodge. This stretch is the home to the rapid El Toro (the bull) and we all stood up to the challenge of taming the rapid. We spent time playing on a wave trying to pull off old school moves in our creek boats, Chris gets the award for best pop out.

The gang enjoying some typical Ecuadorian jungle greenery just upstream of SWA's riverside lodge

Seven days of great boating done!

Stay classy!

Liam


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