Ecuador Rivers Update November 1st 2012
Here is an update on a few of Ecuador's rivers from October/November 2012.
The most important one: There is a new and, in my opinion, very dangerous log on the Upper Jondachi. It is right below the put in foot bridge if you walk in at Kilometer 28. Right now, the put in bridge is in major disrepair and most sane people won't want to walk across it. So, there is a put in trail on river left which leads you to the middle of the rapid with the log. You would need to then walk back upstream to run the part of the rapid where the log is. I have included a photo here and the black line represents the log.
The log is rather hard to see as only the right 10 inches or so are sticking out of the water (at fairly low water). At medium to high flows, it will be completely covered. The log blocks your path to the right boof in this drop. When running the middle line here, it's very easy to get subbed out in the seam--this is where the log will be very dangerous. Again, at medium to high flows you won't see it--but the bulk of the log runs down into this seam. A kayaker who subs out here will run a high chance of having their bow go under the log and getting pinned. So be careful out there kayakers! Personally, I'm going to walk this drop until I know the log is gone.
Ok, what else...The access to the Urcusiqui River (put in #2 in the guidebook) has a new and very large sign saying Private Property No Access. The gate was NOT locked, but the sign makes it pretty clear that they don't want people in there. So, we respected their wishes and hiked in at KM 28.
The Upper Mis river was more or less unchanged, but the big news is that the Lodo put in is no longer full of Lodo! There is now a gravel road that gets you all the way to the river. Follow the same directions that the guidebook has, but now you no longer need to hike. When the book says, look for the trail, just look for the gravel road and then drive all the way to the foot bridge over the Misahualli.
Piatua river and access are the same as last year.
There were many more changes in the Quijos Valley.
There must have been some big floods while we were gone! The Oyacachi River has tons of small changes. But the overall character is still the same and the run is still awesome!
On the Cheesehouse section of the Quijos, the rapid shortly after the put in--where they have done tons of construction and basically re-routed the river has changed for the worse. Last year this rapid was different every time we paddled the run, and I assume the same will be true this year, so I think it's always worth a scout. Moving further downstream, sadly, one of my favorite boofs is gone--the one below the 3 Marias waterfalls--but it's been replaced by a harder, more intricate rapid. So, all and all a gain. Lots of other small changes, but nothing of note to a person who has never been there before!
Cosanga, all accesses are the same. The rapids have quite a few changes, and there's a couple new logs, but they are relatively easy to see from upstream. 2 logs of note:
1.) There is a log in the boof at Chibolo--sad :-(
But there is a route around the boof.
2.) Then, there is also a bad log in the rapid just above where the Rio Bermejo joins the Cosanga. There is a large divider boulder at the bottom of this rapid. The log is stuck on the boulder and juts out into the left channel. If you take the right channel, you'll be in the clear. If you are being a smart boat scouter, you'll see this log with plenty of time to avoid it, but be careful!
Ok, moving onto the Papallacta. This river is a bit messed up right now due to the hydro project they are building here.
We paddled this run on a holiday and so the construction crews were NOT working. If they were working while you wanted to paddle the run, I'd recommend chatting with them (although you may run the risk of them denying you access to the river). But, from the put in down about 1 km they've made a very unnatural river bed--a sort of very narrow hallway if you will. If they were moving earth while you happened to paddle by, it's very conceivable you'd get a back hoe load on the head.
After you get through the 1st construction zone, the river is relatively unchanged down to the 2nd construction zone--about 1/2 way through the run. Here, you'll have to deal with more man-made river bed issues. Then, the 3rd construction zone is at the confluence with the Quijos. They've changed the confluence rapid A BIT. It's still runnable, but stopping above the bride is recommended to get out and make sure that they aren't actively working in/near the rapid, etc...If you need to, you can take out just upstream of the bridge on river left and walk down the newly constructed road to the Quijos River and put back in.
When we ran the Papallacta, it was 4 on the gauge and this is about as low as I'd want to go. Lower would be possible, but you are going to beat the crap out of your boat! Take the gauge readings with a grain of salt because the gauge is in the construction zone--about 100 meters downstream of the put in bridge on river right--and I'm sure the area around the gauge will be constantly changing as they work. But you can get an idea of our flow from the photo above.
Here are a couple more photos of the Papallacta just to remind you that it's still a sweet run!
The Take out for the Lower Quijos is currently "off limits" to kayakers due to the dam construction for the Coca-Coda Sinclair project. I'm sure if you showed up there in your kayak, they will have to let you leave (walk to the road) but just be aware that it is a major construction zone down there. It is possible to take out now on river right a little less than halfway down the Lower Quijos. This does shorten the run considerably and will be an expensive shuttle, but if you really want to face Gringos Revueltos, this is an option! After you run Gringos, you'll head downstream about 1 more kilometer and then take out on river right. From the river, as you are running down river, you'll come to an island, take the right channel and eddy out above the wall shot. Then you'll see the road. You MUST hire a taxi if you are using this access, no buses run here. It will, honestly, be a little tough to explain the take out to a taxi driver if they've never picked kayakers up there before. Tell your taxi driver to pick you up on the Via Muradillos. They cross the Bom Bon bridge, drive through the town of Bom Bon and then downstream on river right. The place where the driver can access the river is just after the road crosses a small stream. There is no bridge, the driver will just drive through this small stream.
That should do for now. If anything major changes during the season, we'll update this again. You can check our facebook page for daily water level updates throughout our season.