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October 17, 2005

Top and Upper Upper Pacuare

Robyn and I had both not paddled in a while, so to warm up and also to try out the new boat (Riot Prankster) we decided to start with the Pejivalle River. The sign at the hardware store finally solved the mystery of what this river is actually called. Most people spell it Pejibaye, like the starchy palm fruit that is called pifa in Panama and chonta in Ecuador; but Pejivalle makes a lot more sense. After all, rivers tend to flowin valleys...

We paddled the lower section first, which turned out to be the right decision because the new boat took in a lot of water through 4 large holes that somebody had drilled through the sides. The folks at the Pejivalle hardware store (Marco and ?) were wonderfully helpful, and even let us borrow a drill to get rid a rusty bolt that held the seat in the wrong place.  It's so nice to hang out in small rural towns; people are very nice and incredibly helpful. We now have an invitation to stay at Marco's the next time we are back in the area.

Meanwhile, Robyn demonstrated that she was familiar with the versatility of the only tool you really ever need.

The upper section, especially above the school house, was fun. We took our time, scouted occasionally, and even found a little bit of play further down.
The next day, we decided to paddle with Top and Upper Upper Pacuare (inflationary naming not my fault...) with Andrew and John; John's girlfriend Gretchen offered to drive shuttle, and was nice enough to keep this offer up after finding out that she was going to have to learn how to use a manual transmission in a Nissan Sentra with 5 people in the car and 4 kayaks on the roof on a dirt road.

She did incredibly well, but the road got worse and worse, and eventually we stopped a Jeep that was coming the other way and hired the driver to take us to the put in. The road was absolutely not passable for a passenger car. At the put in , we found out that the owner of the farm there does not allow boaters access to the river but he was out of town so it didn't matter. The river itself was fun; we finished the top section in about an hour and had lunch with Gretchen who was waiting at the bridge in San Marcos (?). She had run into XXX, a Tico who works in a nature reserve on the pacific side near Nicaragua. They showed her various plants they found in the jungle, including interestingly shaped Calabazas, Cacao, some kind of moss, and a plant that has a sap that irritates the skin. Who ever said being a shuttle bunny was boring?

The paddle was fun, though we had to go quite fast since we were running out of daylight. The water, except for its temperature, reminded me of the class IV section of the Yuba I paddled this year. The nicest thing about it was that although it was challenging, most rapids were boat-scoutable, with many eddies in mid rapid that would have permitted bailing out. But every time, from the eddy or on the way there, I saw either another eddy with the possibility to bail, or the end of the rapid. Robyn and I ended up having to do two rescues, swimmer and boat, but no injuries or frustrations, and the only casualty was one booty which was lost during the swim. Robyn did a great job dealing with the rescue situations and I think we worked together very well.

We arrived at the take out bridge at around 5pm, half an hour before dark. Gretchen was there, but not the Sentra. What was described as a few km of road in the guidebok turned out to be an hour and half of 4WD road. Luckily, Gretchen's new friends found her along the way and offered to drive her in their... Geo Tracker. With no roof rack. But, it did surprisingly well with 6 people and 4 boats and gear, and we made it back just fine.


Posted by rick at October 17, 2005 05:05 PM