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Having an epic season of skiing here in Jackson, WY, I was having second thoughts about booking a flight to go kayaking in Costa Rica in the midst of all the white stuff.  I finally decided to book my flight for Jan 13 and sent out emails and made a few calls to some good friends to see if anyone wanted to rally for a winter kayak session.   Since it was already the 7th of January and I wanted to be in Costa Rica by  mid January at the latest, I figured I would probably be going solo.  I made my arrangements and hoped someone would want to go.  For anyone who wants to head to Costa Rica for a kayaking trip, owner of Mi Tierra Hotel in Alajuela  Roberto Cacho is the best hook up in terms of a great place to stay, knowledgeable driving services and various sweet hooks all over the country.  The other must have connection is Ferdinand Steinvorth, you will not find a better kayaker and guide.  Both have become friends and trusted contact in Costa Rica.  A few days after I booked my flight I got a call from Jesse Coombs who said he was in for the trip and fired up.  I was super excited to have Jesse coming, as we had a great 2010 spring paddling together in California and I was ready for round two.


On January 13th I arrived at Mi Tierra to find Jesse sleeping in Roberto’s garage on in inflatable kayak…  Who told Roberto the wrong date of Jesse’s arrival?  Apparently I did!  Roberto was totally booked the night Jesse arrived and the best accommodation was the garage.  After some jokes (at least it wasn’t a barn right?) and some hugs, we made our way to the Orosi.  Jesse and I hiked to the put in only to find it at a flood stage levels.  Although this river is usually an easy class 4 warm-up with the exception of the first three class V rapids, Jesse gave me a look that said what I was thinking, “This doesn’t look like a warm up!”  I decided to brush off the rust from 6 months of not paddling and fire up the beginning of the run, which at the high level was just one big, long, class V rapid.  Three strokes into day one I took my first and only beating of the trip.  Not exactly the best way to start, but we got through it, had some fun and headed back to Mi Tierra to relax.


On day 2 we headed to the Caribbean side of the country to paddle the Pozo Azul, which has three really excellent waterfalls and 4 miles of enjoyable rapids.  We were told that the Caribbean side had been getting a lot of rain, which wasn’t good news, as we still had the Patria and the Atlantico on the docket for the trip.  The Pozo Azul starts with a 40 minute hike that leads to a sketchy 20 foot waterfall start and then a lot of great rapids until you get to the 25 foot drop in the middle of the run.  This run ends with a nice 30 foot waterfall and a scenic paddle out through the jungle.


On day 3 Jesse and I headed south to Qeupos where the Chorro is.  This is a short gorge run with some action packed class 5 rapids.  It’s a very unique place to paddle in among all the dark gray rocks and waterfalls dropping over the walls of the gorge.  It’s short and sweet, but very worth it if the level is right!


On day 4 we took a rest from paddling and instead spent our time just enjoying the spectacular country and wonderful people.  Jesse and I also did a 6 mile run just to say we weren’t as lazy as we were.


On day 5 we headed to one of the crown jewels of Costa Rican rivers.  The Rio Chirripo Pacifico, located in San Geraldo, is a wonderful class 5 maelstrom of boulders.  It also has what I feel is the best rapid in the country, Ron Jeremy.  Ferdinand named it and you’ll understand why if you ever see it!  The first time I paddled this river I had a 45 minute high-water-hair-on-fire experience.  The day we ran it was different from that first time, but still a classic.  Jesse and I went in on a blue bird day at low water and even though our hair wasn’t on fire it was a great day of paddling in a magical place with a good friend; you can’t get any better than that.


On day 6 we headed back to the Pozo Azul to lead Roberto down for his first time.  We passed up doing the Rio Macho, which is an awesome class 5 creek that drains into the Orosi, but it was worth it, because we wanted to thank Roberto for multitude of hook ups, from drivers to room and board and basically letting us treat his place like our own.   We also decided it was a smart choice, since the following day we planned to paddle the Patria and knew we needed to give it our full attention.   Jesse and I had so much fun watching Roberto paddle his hardest river to date.  He probably got more advice from the two of us than he wanted, but he was truly happy to be there and so were we.  On the final 30 foot drop I broke my thumb on my boat and had to bail on my favorite run in Costa Rica, the Patria.  I was pretty bummed to miss it even though I’ve paddled it 4 times.  It really truly is an amazing run and if you ever have the chance get in there, you should take it; you won’t be sorry!


I truly hope more people get a chance to experience Costa Rica, the amazing county, culture and people that are home to quality whitewater paddling. You’ll be very happy you went!


All the best in 2011 and paddle safe.



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