Thursday, November 22, 2012

International Outside: Ecuador

Beyond the Pacific Northwest

The water and the woods in the Pacific Northwest is some of the best in the world.  With so much good stuff to run and see so close to home, it's sometimes hard to imagine any good reason to go elsewhere.  Sometimes though, an opportunity presents itself, and you get on an airplane with your "waveski" and burn some jet fuel on your way to a distant continent.

 Last winter, I had the chance to hop on an Ecuador trip with a great group of paddlers.  We planned on heading down to Quito, meeting up with our friend Abe (from Boof Sessions), and getting as much darn paddling in as we could.  Sure enough, we paddled every day, often on multiple rivers, got on some of the best rivers I've ever seen, and boofed and boofed and boofed. 

That's one of the things about boating in Ecuador, the character of the runs is so unique, and so different than anything I've seen around our home turf (except maybe my backyard run, the Lostine.)  Everything is super continuous, super bouldery, and you really do just boof over and over again.  Most rivers are like an easier version of Getting Busy, but can go on for many, many miles.  So much fun!

Here are a few shots highlights from our trip, big thanks to Abe for taking the pictures. Unfortunately, my camera blew up on me on the trip, so I ended up with nothing...

Rio Pusuno:  We didn't put on this one, had to leave if for the next time (in a couple months!).  We hiked down, the water level was good, then it jumped 3 feet in less than 30 minutes, and almost trapped us down in the canyon.  The most intimidating move of the whole trip was the upstream ferry trying to get out of here!

Ominous Water, Pusuno

The mandatory 30 footer, Pusuno
 Rio Jondachi:  This one's an absolute classic, we ran it a few times, it's the kind of river that could never get old.
Jondachi, First Rapid

The tricky one, Jondachi
 Rio Misahualli:  This one's big water pleasure all the way, with a big portage in the middle that our friend Greg Mallory ran a couple years back, making him famous in the paddling community in Ecuador.  Not suprisingly, he styled it.

 Jungle Beauty, Lower Misahualli

Below the Portage, Lower Mis
 Rio Topo:  Another amazing river, just got damned, but can still be run.  Number two on my personal favorites list (second only to the Papajacta, which also just got damned).
More Boofs, Topo

Slot drop, Topo (the main line on this one is super stout)

Ecuador Hitchhiking, Topo

Long story short, Ecuador is an amazing place to paddle.  We had such a good time, and having Abe as our guide made the trip a million times better.  There's no way we would have be able to paddle all the runs we did in the time we had if it hadn't been for his intimate knowledge of the area, local contacts, general stoke!  The other thing that was amazing about hanging with Abe; we got to experience the real Ecuador, we hung out at local restaurants, shopped at the regular markets, and really got to experience the culture in a way that you'd probably miss if you went with one of the bigger tour groups.  So big thanks to Abe for showing us Ecuador Paddling!

Now get over to Ecuador and get boofing!

Chilling in Baeza

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