First Trip Report from Craig and Joe – our 2009 Advance Team in Costa Rica

Craig: Alright, it was time to go scout Costa Rica, and I had a brilliant idea. Fly from Greensboro to visit dad, and completely avoid the airport in Atlanta.  I´ll be in Costa by 1:30 with Joe. This is sure to make life easier.  Awesome.  So, we sit under a fog layer in Greensboro for an hour and then take off.  We land in Charlotte and I am once again running through an airport to be sure I missed my flight. I have already set world records with a three day trip from Atlanta to Quito, and a two day trip from Atlanta to San Jose.  I have two options, fly tomorrow, or fly to Atlanta for a four hour lay-over.  I wish I wasn´t a luggage dragging demonstration of irony. But, I have the sweetest girlfriend ever and she lives in Atlanta. We had dinner at the airport and I was only 11 hours late to C.R. I didn´t need a change of clothes because Joe and I weren´t planning on going to sleep Halloween night. And I didn´t have luggage until late Sunday, so it all worked out…or something.   [By the way, Latina women and Halloween are a wonderful phenomenon when they are in the same place at the same time…or something].  Okay, you´re losing me, I´ll put Joe on. You won´t have to read any more about the airport.

Joe: Okay, for the first time in a while, I had a very smooth experience at the airport.  I arrived in San Jose at 1:00pm, as scheduled, and proceeded to stand in the immigration  line for 45 minutes.   Luckily for ERA, and all ticas (Costa Rican ladies), they allowed me in to the country. For those of you who find this unbelievable, don’t worry, I do too. Anyway, I wandered outside, and was pleasantly greeted by our driver Miguel.  One of the main reasons our clients return, with us, to Costa Rica year after year happens to be Miguel. In Spanish (español), Miguel is referred to as “el hombre”–or the man.  His reputation proceeds him, and he never, ever, disappoints.  I tell Miguel that Craig should be out any moment, as his flight arrives at 1:30. Well, to make a long story (see above) short, Craig didn’t make it, and won’t make it until almost 12am.  Miguel and I made our way to his casa (house), loaded up a Score and a Z (Wave Sport represent!), and headed to San Jose.  Checking in to the Hotel Torremolinos was interesting, mainly because my español isn’t great, and well, Craig has our money for the week.  I somehow convinced the lovely tica at the front desk to give me a room, and after I moved in, I decided to celebrate with a cerveza (beer).  Imperial never tasted so good.  In the time it took Craig to arrive I was extremely productive:  I managed to drink a 6 pack, watch some tv, take a nap, take a shower, head to the Casino, win 350$, and make it back to the hotel before Craig “El Martillo” Parks arrived. The rest of the night (and early morning) is history.

Joe wrote for three hours and never quite got out of San Jose, so I took the computer back. Here we go.

So, on Sunday we were trying to remember why we were in Costa Rica, and at this point so are you. We were supposed to go kayaking somewhere but I preferred to wait for my sprayskirt etc. to come from the airport. By Monday morning we were at the Balsa. Everything was good to go; we should have a good time when we paddle that this season. It is very clean, and the track hoe even stops so you can paddle by.

Next, we went to the Toro. The Toro changed a lot during the earthquake, but it was also clean and much easier than other years. A 250 yard mountainside has fallen into the river, but we couldn´t find it. There is also a new takeout trail that is much better, you don´t have to dodge pit-vipers on slippery steps to get out of there.

Scouting out the Rio Toro - Joe

Scouting out the Rio Toro - Joe

On Tuesday we went to the new new powerhouse at the Sarapiqui.  It is the new new powerhouse because the new powerhouse had to be scraped out of the river after the earthquake.

New Powerhouse. Because the new powerhouse had to be scooped out of the riverbed.

New Powerhouse. Because the new powerhouse had to be scooped out of the riverbed.

We enjoyed a strange moonscape of logs and debris as we ran some tough class 4.

Rio Volcano-the route of the wall of water during the earthquake

Rio Volcano-the route of the wall of water during the earthquake

Then we passed the Volcan. The huge rapid below was now a whole new channel to the right. The riverbed I navigated for 12 years was now 15 feet above me on the left. Van Council hated that rapid; he will be so happy next week. Apparently, when ICE replaced the powerhouse they also replaced the Sarapiqui with the old Upper-Reventazon run. Those engineers are amazing. It is now miles of continuous class 3/4 similar to Hells Half Mile and Double Trouble on the Ocoee.

post-earthquake Sarapiqui River, Costa Rica

post-earthquake Sarapiqui River, Costa Rica

The lower Sarapiqui is simplified. It is smoother and easier than most years, many of the wall shots are missed or smaller. Superman cleaned up, and the old Woman-Trap line is back without the stop strips.  Unfortunately, a unique row of giant trees that lined a section is gone. The bottom section is better though, it will be a better option for class 2/3 folks. I can´t wait to get everyone out there.

On Wednesday we are checking three new runs for class three trips; wish us luck and hope they pan out!

Joe working Pozo Azul

Joe working Pozo Azul