Every year a team of ERA guides HAS to come down to Costa Rica a week early and see how things have changed regarding river features and put-ins and takeouts. It is part of the guide job description and a mandatory part of our international trips.  Of course if you end up aspart of the exploratory team, you accept that it is a rough job running all these great rivers before everyone else arrives each season, but it is what we need to do.  I left North Carolina Saturday evening for a Sunday flight, and arrived in Costa Rica Monday afternoon (I know–normally it takes a half-day to fly to Costa Rica. Lets not go there).  Whatever it took to get back to this awesome place! 

Craig stopping for some play time on the Reventazon

Craig stopping for some play time on the Reventazon



After causing my own delays and many hours of traveling it was a pleasure seeing Miguel smiling in front of San Juan Maria airport. We headed to the house for a boat and a kiss from Aunt Lucre and headed over the mountain.  The next morning we met with Roberto, a local boater in Turrialba, and took off for the river. A section of the Pacuare and then the Pejiballe were as gorgeous as ever. I followed a river otter across a pool on the Pacuare, and finally scared him under with a “hey there!” Usually they pop up and surprise me; so this was a welcome victory.

The next morning we started on the Reventazon )hands-down an ERA favorite) above Land of a Thousand Holes. Nothing like Land of a Thousand Holes at 8AM to get you back in the swing of things!!  And true to character, the Reventazon was as arrogant and pushy as ever.  I missed one of Roberto’s lines and fell into a huge hole; I was certain I would pop up on a river in China.  I had better luck than I do in airports, and back-endered out.  There are some beautiful lines out there this year, big flumes between massive roaring pourovers. We finished the day with a wildwater run down the upper and lower Sarapiqui. The upper is constricted into some huge wave trains this year and gave us a good rinse. Roberto hunted the elusive McNasty in a play hole and never found it, but snapped some nasty enough loops.

Being on scouting week budget, we settled in at an unfamiliar hotel and enjoyed Jake-brakes all night as truckers made the curve out front. Made me miss the guests not being here!  The next day was spent scrambling on the creeky Balsa River which seemed to test my arms as much as the Reventazon had. I thought my stern was a little big to cram under a given rock but the Balsa was determined to try.  We may revisit her next year, although the lower is good to go for this season’s Class III trips.  The obligatory weekly flood was happening on the Toro, so we were done for the day. We headed back to the same hotel to avoid decision-making process and because the owners were so sweet.

A set of Semi’s jakebraked me awake early enough to listen to a night of hard rain.

The Toro was a reasonable level however, (it already flooded once for the week, right?) so we went up top. Roberto needed to see the upper put-in, as it is the most gorgeous topography around.  The power company here is running a tunnel from the put in powerhouse down to another powerhouse, so it is off limits. Losing two nights sleep and a favorite run made Craig a mean kid! I inadvertantly snapped at Miguel for not reading my mind consistently as we pushed on with the morning.  The formerly brutal middle Toro has cleaned up perfectly for Class IV Fridays. I found a great play hole with eddy service just below the put in.  Under slept and cranky, I imagined the pit was a hydro-system proposal and my stern a flaming gavel and slammed loop after loop with a vengeance. Roberto had switched to a larger boat (it did not take him long to figure out why ERA guides are always working here in CR in big boats!) and waited in the back of the eddy as the seemingly schizophrenic gringo had an acrobatic temper tantrum. I relaxed as we boofed downstream knowing that at least the middle Toro was back on our itinerary.

We also did a little section of the Volcan, an upper Sarapiqui alternate put in.  It had some Great Smokies scrambles and boof moves and may be a nice addition for hotshot creekers on our trips. 

We stuffed ourselves at a buffet, Roberto caught a bus, and Miguel and I headed for San Jose to catch up with Ken and Juliet and try for a good night of sleep.  It was a busy week of paddling, but I’ll make such sacrifices anytime for our guests.


Pura Vida!  Cannot wait for everyone to arrive!  Craig