Big Water, Steep Creeks, Jungle, Mountains, and Rain–What More Does A Kayaker Need?

Darcy running the confluence rapid on the Papallacta River
Since April 15th, Don and my travels have taken us over innumerable miles and down many amazing and memorable rivers throughout Colorado, California, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Norway, Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria.  While we’ve had many wonderful experiences, one feeling continues to prevail—I miss Ecuador!  No matter what shapes and forms of awesomeness we encounter out in the world, so far, none have captivated me as much as life in Ecuador has.
 Chris on the Upper Oyacachi
Over the past 11 years of guiding in Ecuador, the country has become home to me.  And I not only mean that in a cheesy, sentimental, “home is where the heart is” kind of way; I also mean it literally!  Right now, it’s the only home I’ve got (unless you count my red pick up truck and a few rental cars here and there).  But what all this traveling has made me realize is that I couldn’t have asked for a better home.
 Close behind the boating, the fresh fruit and veggies are one of the things that make life so good in Ecuador–especially when you are a vegan!
As our season approaches, I often catch myself daydreaming about being back in Ecuador living out my perfect day: 
Get up with the sunrise and a myriad of tropical birds making a ruckus.  Enjoy the cool and quiet of morning while I drink coffee, organize my boating gear and wake up.  Have a hearty, traditional breakfast of plantains, garlic, beans, avocados, and rice and then head out boating. 
 Don leading a crew down the Bridge to Bridge section on the Quijos
My ideal day of boating in Ecuador would be a high water day on the Oyacachi—the higher the better for that river!   I love the feeling of being rapidly swept down a steep creek with the volume of a big river.  Although there are holes big enough to eat an Ecuadorian chicken bus at high levels, the river just flows well.  If you can relax into the power of the river and the main flow, you’ll more often than not find yourself just where you needed to be.  
 Katherine enjoying one of those awesome big water days on the Oyacachi
 Devon Barker enjoying some big water fun.  Luckily she grew up paddling in Idaho so she is used to this sort of thing!
Or, if things are medium or low, I can always “settle” for a Papallacta/Cheesehouse combo.  10 miles of continuous Class IV/V boof-filled, boulder-gardens is not a bad plan B mind you.  You’ll feel it in the ol’ kayaking muscles after this one!
 Darcy boofing down the Cheesehouse section of the Quijos
Then, I’ll head back to Small World Adventure’s riverside lodge.  Once home, my favorite activities are to take a hot shower, then settle into the porch with a cold Pilsiner and relax my way into nice post-boating-buzz as I watch hummingbirds dart around the gardens and watch the intense Amazonian sun set behind the Andes.  
 You can always find a good adventure in Ecuador if you are willing to look
Knowing I get to wake up and do it all again tomorrow makes it easy to drift off to sleep hearing nothing but the soothing hum of the Quijos River.
 Antisana, headwaters of the Quijos River
I will have to suffer through some mountain biking in Colorado and a trip down the Grand Canyon before my day dreams become my reality; but I will be back home soon enough…
 Chris enjoying an afternoon run down the Cheesehouse section
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