Friday, January 30, 2009

Rio Naranjo - Chorro Section

After doing some more research in the guide book, Chasing Jaguars, we decided that we wanted to check out the Rio Naranjo. The Labyrinth Section looked really fun so we decided to cruise over to Quepos and see for ourselves. We went to H2O Adventures in an attempt to get beta on the run and were pleasantly surprised by the amount of help we got. Andres not only explained to us that the section we were looking for was known locally as the Chorro, but also called up a friend to join us.

After meeting a 16 year old kid on the corner to show us the way, we randomly showed up at our new friend Dan's house. He agreed to join the two random strangers, grabbed some gear, and hopped in the car.

A short drive and even shorter hike later, we arrived at the put-in. The water was beautiful and I was immediately stoked for the run.
Gearing up at the put-in (photo:Jim Busse)
The fun starts right away with some great boulder garden boogie rapids. Everything was boat scoutable and super fun!

Dan making his way down one of the many boulder gardens. (photo: Jim Busse)

The one rapid the book made sound really sketchy, the Douche, was actually the best one on the run! It started with a splashy hole and pinched down to have a pretty tight exit between huge boulders. Fun stuff!
Entering the Douche (photo: Jim Busse)

The run was super quick, perfect for laps. Unfortunately we had to keep on movin'.

Jim in the mellow paddle out.

Thanks to Andres and Dan for all the help!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Poza Azul Huckfest!

To wrap up our time in La Virgen we decided to hit up the classic Poza Azul waterfall. There is actually an entire run to do, but with limited time we decided to stick to the hike and huck. We were joined by locals Braulio and Gabriel for the adventure, which started with a very muddy 15 minute hike. Trudging through the mud.... First look....who's going first?
Gabriel giving it a go...My turn!!

When we all had our fill we moved on, which included paddling out on the now destroyed Lower Sarapiqui.

Following the earthquake, which was the biggest quake in Costa Rica in 15 years, there is nothing but shallow, muddy, debris filled water in this section.

It was like paddling in pudding!
And this was the end result! Ahhhhhh! Now that is the definition of a dirtbag kayaker!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

El Rio Sucio "The Dirty River"

So after our adventure on the Sarapiqui, we were invited to check out the Rio Sucio the following day with Sarapiqui Outdoor Center to look for an alternate take out. Of course we said yes! We arrived at the put in to find the STRANGEST color river I have ever seen!! It looked like cream soda! I'm not too sure about this water.....

We were kept busy on the run, which is fun continuous class 3, but I never really did get over the color! Which by the way is caused by sulfer and other minerals in the water due to lava deposits upstream. When it came time to start looking for take outs, we just stopped every few minutes and one of the guys in raft would hop up and run up the bank, returning about ten minutes later to report. Finally, we were waved over to an open pasture where our shuttle had pulled up. The interesting part was that it was full of cows!!
The cows checking us out....

They were initially curious but keeping their distance, but eventually followed us at a trot off the property. I was a little worried that I was actually gonna have to "Cowgirl Up!"

Stay Tuned: Huckfest at Poza Azul is up next!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sad Times for the Sarapiqui

We pulled into La Virgen late afternoon to find very few people around. Our first mission was to talk to a rafting company to see if we could hook up a shuttle for the Rio Sucio for the next day. On our second try to the Sarapiqui Outdoor Center we found some helpful folks. They were working on finding new runs to do commercial trips on, since the stretch they typically raft on the Sarapiqui was destroyed with the earthquake, and had just returned from the Rio Sucio. (that would explain the lack of people at the rafting companies) The plan was to return the next day to look for a better take out and they were kind enough to say we could tag along.
When we arrived the next morning, the plan had changed. They were joining another raft company and the Cruz Roja (Red Cross) to make the first trip down the Upper Sarapiqui since the quake. We were told that as long as we were solid in class 4 we could help. We immediately jumped on board. Driving to the put in was very sad as areas that had fallen apart were taped off, reporters were everywhere, the Red Cross was offering food and supplies, and a priest even stopped us and gave us cookies and juice and said a prayer.
We arrived at the put in to find the bridge crossing the river had fallen in. The organizer gave the group a safety talk that included instructions that we were not to play, our job was to make sure everyone got down the river safely, look for debris, animals, houses, cars and possibly bodies. We were to all stick close together and signal if we noticed anything weird or saw vultures circling. The river was very muddy with few eddies. (Sort of high water Upper East Fork Hoodish for you Northwesterners) We pulled out and came up around the first corner to find the bridge that had fallen in. Everyone was able to make it through with no problems.We continued downstream, stopping several times to check out some farms and huge piles of logs. Fortunately the river itself was clean of strainers and other debris. It was a great run and the rafting companies were excited that they would be able to take trips down this section, but said it was very different than it had been. We only had one raft flip and it was a quick recovery. It was also fortunate that the only remains we found belonged to animals. Overall, a successful mission!

Thanks to all the good spirited folks who welcomed us with open arms for this trip! What an experience!

Next up: The strangest color of river I have ever seen!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lower Pacuare (and a little run in with the policia)

After a great day on the Upper Pacuare, Jim and I decided it was necessary for his girlfriend Brianna to see the river. We cruised over to Costa Rica Adventures and set up a rafting trip for the next day. The Lower Pacuare is easier than the Upper, but just as beautiful!

Chillin´on the Lower Pacuare

With warm, clean water, the jungle surrounding you, and waterfalls cascading in around every corner how could you go wrong?
Jim below one of the many fun rapids.
The run is mostly class 3 with a couple of bigger drops mixed in so it´s a great run for anyone!

I love this place!!

So after loading up the raft and all the kayaks, we had a few beers at the take out and headed back into Turrialba. However, we were stopped on the way by the traffic police (for what we are not entirely sure...possibly too many boats?) With some confusion about papers and such (not to mention some upset for taking their photos) they decided to take our license plates. what? Luckily our guides and driver were fantastic and soon had us on our way! Fun stuff in Costa Rica!

Hang tight for the rescue mission on the Sarapiqui....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pura Vida!!

Well, despite a big earthquake the day before my arrival, I made it to Costa Rica and am loving every minute of it! First stop: Upper Pacuare!! I think I am in love!!

Our day started out driving around on crazy dirt roads overlooking beautiful green valleys for about three hours looking for any sign of boaters.
We finally saw a van with some boats on top and flagged them down. After figuring out some logistics (like letting a 16 year old girl without a license drive our rental car on a bumpy road, because there are no cops there, for our shuttle) we teamed up and started down the river. First thing to note: I got to do something that is not possible in the northwest...I FINALLY got to wear my pinstriped shorty!! (yay NRS!)

The run started out with a nice warm up, then headed into the first gorge. The entrance rapid was great so I knew I was in for some fun! The first rapid we scouted was called Sangre Hidraulico ¨Blood Hole¨. It was so fun that you couldn´t help but hoot and holler when you came through. I didn´t get many photos on this run because it was pretty busy, but here are some shots of Jim Busse in the entrance and coming through the bottom hole.

The next rapid was changed in the last big flood (as we were told by Diego, a local that was showing us the way) and was pretty manky so we shouldered our boats. There were a few more fun boulder gardens and a great ledge drop before exiting the gorge. We then had about twenty minutes of mellow water before entering the next gorge. It started with some tight slots and pushy water, but was like riding a roller coaster through a maze. This gorge was shorter than the first, but equally as fun.

Celebratory beers near the take out!

Next up: Lower Pacuare and a run in with the policia

Saturday, January 3, 2009

When it Rains it Pours!!

Well, the rains finally came and this is what they did to most of our rivers. Hopefully it will keep coming and flush most, or if we are lucky, all of the wood downstream and leave us with the runs that we have come to know and love back in their nice clean state!

With all the rivers high we decided to check out Butte Creek. The run ended up having a lot of new wood, but only required two portages. And, only one of the bigger drops (pictured above) was unrunnable.

The grande finale was untouched by wood and we had a blast floating off this one!

Kate on the right, Christie on the left (Photos by Rachel Crowder)

Creekin' Season has begun in the Northwest! Get out there, have fun, and be safe! Happy New Year!