High Adventure Caused by High Water, never a dull moment in Ecuador!

 Andy boofing the 90 degree turn on the Upper Mis

The week started off innocently enough–like any other week this season.  Some rain, some sun and a perfect medium water level for day 1.   The Torrents trip started out with a nice cruise down the Pica Piedra run putting in right in front of our lodge.

 John and Andy enjoying the Ecuadorian Rainforest!  They look good in green…

We went to bed that night and proceeded to listen to rain pound the roof all night long.  Surprisingly enough when we got up the river was only at 3 on our gauge.  With the amount of rain we got, we knew the water would come at some point…but why hadn’t it come yet?  We decided to head to the Lower Quijos.  This stretch of river can handle a ton of water, so it matters less when things really come up.

 “Welcome to the Jungle…we’ve got fun and games…We’ve got everything you want and honey we know your name…”
But, mind you it still matters!  The crew set off while I stayed behind at the lodge to do office work (damn it!  The office lady always misses the good adventures).  By the time the crew had breakfast and was ready to leave, the river had risen to only 3.5 on the gauge.  Not bad, as long as the Oyacachi wasn’t huge, they should be good to go.
 The Rio Santa Rosa.  At normal flows you could hardly float a kayak on this river and could probably jump across it in most places.  This was NOT a normal day.

All the rivers along the drive to the put in looked high, but not crazy high.  They put on the river at 25 on the gauge.  That’s a nicely high level.  All was going great until a rapid called “Welcome to the Jungle.”  It definitely lived up to it’s name this day.  There were 2 swimmers; and during this time, the river at the lodge went from 3.5 to 8 in 25 minutes.  The Oyacachi, Santa Rosa and Bombon creek all exploded at roughly the same time and while Don and Greg were rescuing swimmers and boats the river came up, and up, and up and more or less went off the charts (not off the gauge since the put in gauge goes up to 69) but off the charts from a kayaker’s perspective.    And, if you are wondering, you definitely do NOT want to go if the gauge reads 69.  But don’t worry, you wouldn’t be able to make it to the put in at that level since all bridges would have long since been washed out.

 Craig, resting his legs after the jungle hike, sticking to the river this time!

So, while some of the kayakers were dreaming of low volume runs, the river KEPT raising.  Before too long it was the highest level I’ve seen at the lodge this season and the roar of the river was drowned out by the sound boulders tumbling down the river.  Then…the dry land part of the tour began!  It was a lovely jungle hike to where Memo was waiting with the Sprinter and some nice dry clothes.  Cold beers and Empandas were next.  So while it wasn’t the best day of boating ever, it was an awesome adventure that I know everyone will remember!

 John enjoying not being on a flooding river.  Loving life on the Upper Mis.

The rest of the week turned out great!  They got the best (highest) water level of the entire season on the Piatua.  It was high but dropping which was a nice change for that river where we’ve often seen high and getting a hell of a lot higher FAST.  Don, Greg, Tarquino and I were super pumped to have a strong crew and this great opportunity to run the Piatua with some good water in it. 

 Jenn, staying alert as the crew makes their way down the Piatua
And the Piatua did not disappoint!  14 kilometers of continuous grade IV and IV+ whitewater.  Truly and kayaker’s dream.  Combine this with Toucans and Chi Chiko monkeys and you’ve got yourself one totally awesome day of kayaking!
 Martha, in her 2nd week with us in Ecuador, stayed strong to paddle 14 days in a row!
The gang also got a great level on the Upper Misahualli River, the Lower Cosanga, and then on the last full day they went back into the Lower Quijos to face the demons.  
 John surfing a huge wave on round 2 of the Lower Quijos
Now the tally is Torrents group 1, Rio Quijos 1.  This time around the run was a great success.  The gauge at the put in was 19 and stayed that way all day long.  Big water rapids, and big wave surfing defined the day.
Jenn and John enjoying a victory lunch after Gringos Revueltos
The February 4th Torrents crew got a great taste of Ecuador.  They had sun, they had light drizzles, torrential downpours, low volume creeks, big volume creeks and rivers, and flooding rivers.  They saw great birds, jungle mammals, and got up close and personal with the rainforest along the banks of the Quijos. 
 Greg, Craig and Andy stoked to have completed the Lower Quijos
It’s a week I’m sure they’re unlikely to soon forget!

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