It always seems that we start our run-down week back in Ecuador on the Quijos River. How can you not when it is such a great river to return to each year?! Putting in at what what we refer to as the Baeza Bridge put in, it only takes about five minutes for the word ‘busy’ to pop into your head. Busy as in busy is the style of paddling you do in Ecuador–and true on this section of the Quijos. Below the Baeza Bridge the river probably only drops a bit more than 100 feet/mile, but it is full contact paddling: turning, punching, scurrying, driving, surprising (because of the the changes that have once again occurred since the last time you saw the river) and on and on. What fun we had today!!
It was a gorgeous day today when Doug and I put in, but we both sported dry tops. The Quijos flows off of Antisana Volcano–a gorgeous snow-capped volcano that looms over the Quijos Valley (on a clear day). Surprisingly, even though the water is coming off a glacier, it is not at all cold. But you are at 6500 feet and you plan on getting splashed on this run!
We have lots of river to run before we welcome our first group of friends back down here next week, so today we ended up paddling about 25 miles of river. If the kind of day we had tody is not a dream for a paddler, I dont know one: start out on a creek style river dropping a continuous 100 or so feet/mile, then contine downstream where another big tributary comes in, adding almost double the volume of water so that you are in about 2000cfs. Now you are running big water drops with a whole lot of holes, cool moves, and some awesome rapids that keep you on your toes. And even though you have been paddling these sections of river so many times over the past twelve years, you are still taken by surprise by changes that occurred during the rainy season. Changes meaning big river rapids that are in different channels, islands that have been blown out and no longer exist, channels that have opened up that were previously dry, and other channels that are nothing more than a trickle where they were full on powerful lines just a few months ago. And this is just at today´s water level. Tomorrow could be totally different if the levels change (which they do here at whim!!).
Nearly 20 miles further downstream and two more additional rivers added to the cfs equation, we were finishing up today´s run with a rapid named ‘Curvas Peligrosas-‘ dangerous curves. It is a sinewy double s-turn rapid that starts out with some of the squirreliest water you can imagine, pushing hard to river left, necessitating just as hard of a move over to river right to avoid an impressive new set of three consecutive holes to be avoided at all cost. We decided that at least today, Curvas Peligrosas needed to be called ‘curvas muy peligrosas!!’
At the end of five hours of hard, non-stop paddling, our good friend and driver Angel was waiting for us at the takeout (and I will confess, he offered to carry my boat and I totally took him up on it!!).
Score at the end of the day: two guides, three rolls between us. Good thing we did not need assistance at any point in those rolls as the other of us was too busy laughing each time!
Additional score at the end of the day: total number of paddlers on the river on this gorgeous day a whopping two of us. Paradise 🙂