February 2nd-10th a group of paddlers from all across the US converged on Ecuador to tackle some of the country’s most classic creeks. Water levels and energy levels cooperated and made for an outstanding week of paddling.We ran 2 sections of the Quijos River, the Oyacachi River, Piatua, Upper Jondachi, and 2 sections of the Cosanga, for a total of 7 wonderful days of paddling. The big news of this trip was massive flooding that hit both the Jondachi and the Mishualli Rivers. See below in the “Jondachi Section” for some of the changes we discovered.

The Piatua served up some crystal clear water (as it usually does) and a full day of boof, after boof, after boof….

Crossing the Anzu River on the way to the Piatua put in. What do you think? Will they fit? In case the suspense it killing you, they did fit, but only by about 3 inches.Larry V. leads the crew down through “Discotec.”

Gerald DeLong grinding the rock slide in “Dame su Gasolina.” Tim heading into one of the Piatua’s many boofs.

And now…for the big news–the new and improved JONDACHI. Over the summer of 2007 some big floods had changed the Jondachi somewhat for the worse. A few pieces of wood and some new seives created more portages that one normally likes to do on the Upper J. But the flood of Feb. 4th, 2008, changed things back for the better. Don was very happy to report this to us after his scouting mission! (see next week’s blog for Mishualli update).See that big pile of logs up on the old bridge support on river left? The river was REALLY high!

Matt DeLong nails his boof in a rapid that previously had wood in it.
And, perhaps the best news of all, Tres Huevos is back baby! The 2 sieves that had opened up between the big boulders have now been plugged back up. What had been a long and somewhat sketchy portage, is now back to the same ol’ fun rapid it was a few years back. Everything from the entrance to the exit are good, good, good. Here is Peter Z. boofing the exit.

Gerald seems to be attracting the butterflies. At one point, there were over 20 circling him. Not sure if it was his pretty yellow boat or his sweet personality!

Kristin lining up on a classic ledge on the Upper Jondachi.

Jason, at the rapid above the put in. This is the only thing that truly changed for the worse. The classic boof along the river left wall is now only about 1.5 feet tall, and there are a bunch of logs blocking the river left exit. As you can see, most of the water is diverted to the river right channel. It is still a fun and picturesque drop, just not the ol’ guidebook cover classic.

Chris Korbulic., our free trip winner from this summer’s contest, taking full advantage of his winnings.

Here is his again. Chris was super psyched that he had won the trip with us, and after busing his way through South America for the last month, a week of paddling was a more than welcome change of pace. While contemplating the clear water, granite boulders, and amazing ferns hanging off the wall behind him, Chris came up with these thoughts about his week with us: “Everything from the guiding to the eating was first class, and really, I was blown away with the quality classic whitewater. After taking some unexpected time away from kayaking, my week with SWA really made me feel like a kayaker again.”
We are glad we could help Chris! It was great paddling with you.

Jason S., representing Outdoorplay Man he looks good!
A few other Jondachi changes of note:

The seive/siphon in the middle of Typhoid Falls is plugged up again, so that rapid is back to normal BUT it is still a bit risky to run as one of the exit channels after the actual Typhoid Falls (the channel where most of the water is going) has a nasty log in it. Scout for sure!

There is also a pretty nasty log in a rapid that we call the “Vortex of Doom.” It is the rapid, just AFTER the rapid that Chris is standing above in the photo with the foot bridge and the pretty ferns. Easy to sneak right of it. Other than those major changes, there were lots of little subtle and fun changes.
We were greeted back at our lodge with a beautiful sunny afternoon. After 3 nights away, the sunshine, the beautiful lodge, and Lili’s wonderful cooking were all welcomed.

Larry leading Gerald and Matt (father and son) down the Lower Cosanga.

Besides being full of world class whitewater, Ecuador is also pretty full of world class scenery. Matt taking it all in.

I don’t know what to say, besides that this is one crazy flower! And yes, it is real.
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