Bring together a solid Class IV+ group of southeastern boaters who have been suffering through the drought and what is the one thing they all want: rain!! So we had to have an attitude adjustment at the beginning of this past week: we had to agree that there would be no more talk of rain. This was all much more clear after our warm up run. We put-in on a Class III creek that is normally an ankle-deep trout stream and then hit the Quijos at mega-water.
No one questioned the fact that there was enough water in Ecuador after that! Instead we just focused on six great days of paddling.
The need for redemption began when we arrived at the Baeza Section of the Quijos earlier in the week .and most of the group decided that the Quijos was running a bit high; okay, very high! Creek boaters always intuitively look for the existence of eddies on a run. And if you are standing on the bridge at the top of the run and do not see an eddy as far as you can see downstream, it must be a bit high! After already running a hard run on the Cosanga, the feeling was that it was not the day for putting in for a second hard run; especially after Brian looked at the group and said we are going to take some hits down here, probably run into some holes we cant avoid, and then some. Only Steve was foolish enough to follow Brian and Craig downstream and he showed them up by falling into a hole and showing just how much of a rodeo boat the Habitat can be if you find the right spot!
Putting Quijos redemption on hold for a day or two, we headed over to Tena. The watersheds are alot smaller in the Tena area, so the rivers rise and fall faster than in the Quijos Valley. Nothing could make creek boaters happier than the combination we ran: the Upper Miss at a boof-perfect level
And the Piatua running gorgeous clear (which is good, because walking off a too-high level would be no-fun, as we heard was done earlier in the week by more than one group).
By the time we finished up in Tena, blazing sunshine had brought water levels down throughout the Oriente so we headed back towards the Quijos area. Almost to the end of the Cosanga run on Thursday we all got to see the infamous gallo-de-pena bird (translated with a smirk as cock-on-the-rock). A rare sighting, spotting the gallo turns even the least bird watching kayaker into an enthusiast for at least a moment.
Redemption came when we returned to the Baeza run of the Quijos to finish up the week;
especially because by this point we were dressed in short sleeve paddle jackets and sunglasses to fight the suns glareand drank those last beers out of a bottle instead of a bootie! An awesome way to finish off a first-class week of paddling here in Ecuador!
Did we have any disappointments this week? Well, maybe one or two. We were definitely disappointed when Steves birthday was not celebrated in the traditional Ecuadorian manner (tradition in Ecuador is that the birthday boy gets his face planted into the birthday cakemuch funnier to the participating friends than the recipient themselves!). And that Hank was not there for all the fun.
And that way too-fast we were soaking it up at Pappallacta on the way back to Quito and home. But we have great photos and great memories of paddling here in Ecuador with our friends.
PS – And hopefully some rain is carried back for everyone back in the southeast!