Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sanity in the South: An Ecuadorian Winter Vacation

Anyone familiar with Mountainbuzz can attest that when the snow starts falling in Colorado, we local boaters start to lose our grip on sanity.  In late October due to mysterious dam maintenance, Lower South Boulder Creek began running at the desperately low flow of 300 cfs.  Arkansas river rat Melrose and I were jonsin' so bad that we put up with the epic shuttle, snowfall and low flows to get wet.  Unfortunately, a second dam in the run removed all of the flow, necessitating a 2 mile hike-out through private property.  After we made it out Evan, who was also in serious need of liquid stimulation, called to ask if the trek was worth the effort.  I told him it was probably only a Mank Crew special and he should look elsewhere for goods.  Thankfully, he'd already been planning a trip to Ecuador with the Fort Collins posse and Dr. Brad, MD. I quickly re-arranged my work schedule, got a couple shots in my arse and hopped a plane south.
(Evan Stafford photo)
This is an Ecuadorian rural taxi - a four door pick-up truck that is pretty much designed as a creek assault vehicle.  And they come cheap.

(Photo: Brad Higinbotham by Evan Stafford)
Definitely check out the Papallacta if you're in the neighborhood.  We compared it to running the Lower Narrows on the Poudre for an entire day in the jungle.  Here's a couple more shots from the stretch:

(Photo: Evan Stafford)
Dr. Brad, MD - jungle stylin

(Photo: Evan Stafford)
Joe K finding his way...

(Photo: Joe Keck with Evan's camera)
Sensi Stafford from Fists of Boof Dojo demonstrates that it works the same south of the equator.  Here's but a few of the lovely creatures we encountered on our journeys:

(Photo: Evan Stafford)
Believe it or not, these are some of the smaller spiders in my memories of the trip.  We also saw CD sized spiders that could run across water - terrifying for a kayaker.

I'm not afraid 

(Photo: Joe Keck)
This is not the monkey that bit Brad, but he did steal that bun out of my hand while I was looking the other way.  Now back to the boating for you tweaking Colorado folk:
(Photo:  Joe Keck)
Here's Evan Stafford waking up on the first drop of the Jondachi.  Several days before this shot our group was shut down on this run as we watched the water rise 3 feet in 25 seconds or so.  This run provided an amazing pool-drop jungle adventure once we got in.

(Photo of Pete Stromberg by Evan Stafford)
Yea, I know, I'm stuck at work too, but you know where my head is at....

(Photo: Evan Stafford)

(Photo: Evan Stafford)
These shots are of Randy Ramirez who hails from Laramie, WY.  I know what you're thinking and all I can say is that I didn't know rednecks could make great kayakers either.

(Photo: Evan Stafford)
Here's the posse gettin' ready for the business at hand.

(Photo:  Evan Stafford)
I didn't realize it until I got there, but Ecuador is full-on in the Andes mountains.  We traveled over 14,000 foot passes and cruised by huge volcanos.  Speaking of huge:

(Photo: Joe Keck)
Evan Stafford gets intimate with Hollin Falls.

(Photo of Joe Keck by Evan Stafford)
Oh, hello perfect jungle waterfall!

Brad sez, "Nice helmet"

Parting shot:
("It doesn't get much better than that" by Evan Stafford)


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