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In my 30+ years in the kayak business, two of my greatest pleasures have been getting to know great people, and share wonderful times in beautiful places, all as part of my job.  I know how fortunate I am!  Last month I accompanied six others from the Jackson Kayak sales and product management staff to Ecuador, for some business meetings, and a little fun time on the water.  I’ll let you decide if I’ve got these two in the correct order!

Most of our executive-level meetings were held here, the Endless Adventures lodge.  Surrounded by a farm and walking distance to the Rio Quios, complete with outdoor alarm clocks to wake us for important morning meetings.  Our evening meetings, even more serious, were held in a secret room behind the lodge.  These discussions often involved revolutionzing the kayak world, so cameras were forbidden.  But here is a shot of our crew at a breakfast meeting, from the bottom: Colin, me, Sean, Dave, Marty, Jake, Damon, and our charming hostess Andrea.

Shuttles were almost as much fun as the rivers.  Stops in the villages for food and drink, cattle on the roads, and none too shabby scenery.

Incredible plant and wildlife was abundant.   At the put-in for the Borja, a small creek we were lucky to catch, we encountered this monstrous agave plant.

While sneaking away from an important meeting to do some fishing, Damon found this friendly fellow.

Of course we did spend some time on the water.  Some more than others, with Sean winning the ironman award.  Or maybe he was just trying to avoid the arduous work back on lodge headquarters.  This is me, but not sure which river….they all run together, both in my head and in reality, eventually forming the Napo, a major tributary of the Amazon.

I had my first experience using a Go Pro, but sadly, had such a small memory chip that I had few good results.  Colin, Damon and others however got some great shots, some with the JK Levator, others, like this one from Damon, on a helmet mount.

This rapid, on the Cosanga, a super fun Class IV run, I do remember, as it was one of the few we scouted.  Don’t recall a name, but it had this great boof near the top, which if executed properly helped avoid a rock wall on the left and lined you up perfectly between two large boulders, followed by a tricky, narrow channel down the right.  Super fun, and the Karma makes such moves easy, even for us old timers.

I love Latin American markets, and Tena’s did not disappoint…though some of the offerings were a bit much, even though I’m a fairly adventurous eater.  Maybe fried??

This was a seriously fun trip, and a great team-building exercise for our staff.  Really glad I was able to be there, and we really did have some great sales and product discussion interrupted by paddling here and there.  I paddled the whole time in the Karma M, instead of my usual, the Zen 65, primarily to gain more footroom for some long days on the water.  Still love the Zen for its sportiness and low weight, but the Karma makes everything easy, is super comfy, handles overnight gear with ease, and is just a joy to paddle. Ecuador is a great paddling destination, and thanks again to Chris, Andrea and crew at Endless Adventures….be sure to look them up.