Thursday, May 28, 2015

Back in the USA - Recovery and Charging

Once I made my way back to the Seattle area I was forced to rest for another 3 straight weeks before my next examination. So I was restricted to walking and cooking, that was about it. But once I had my progress x-rays, to my surprise, I was given the all clear to paddle again with the caution of 'avoiding trauma.' My plans to recover on Lake Union quickly were wiped away and I set out to paddle the Skykomish. With the exception of lost flexibility, I was feeling pretty good after 45+ minutes of paddling. 

 Stoked to be back!

The next day I would paddle Tumwater with Ari, and again felt great. Which was incredible as my initial consultation said I would be out for 9 months or more. From then it didnt take long before I was convinced to head down to the quickly dropping LW to catch its last days. No laps of spirit but that doesn't matter, I was paddling the LW at 3.3 only 6 weeks after severely breaking my back.

It feels good to be back

The LW, Nick Murphy's playground.

Cuzza rounding off an afternoon lap

 Chris Topher really laying it out

After a solid working week in White Salmon, it was time to head back to Seattle for Ari to fly off to work in Mongolia and time for me to get my body back in proper working order while taking advantage of the short spring Washington was about to have.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Expedition Brazil - Santa Catarina stouts, a broken back and the boys finishing it up.

After we made the grueling 25+ hour drive south from Espirito Santo to Santa Catarina we made a b-line for the Rio Benedito to blow out the cobwebs. It felt good to be back on the water, but we came for bigger and better things. We got the call from Marcelo Galizio and Jake Greenbaum, who were in interior SC, and had just begun to breakdown a waterfalls section of the Rio Chepeco. So we charged our batteries that night, and the next morning ripped over to meet up with the boys. By the time we had got there the boys had First Descended several of the channels and the rowdy put-in 50+ foot falls, so the next day we wanted to try and put the whole section together and that we did. 

 Jordy on the entrance 50+ft falls.

Ari on the First Descent of 'Waterpark Falls'.

 Barny on 'Waterpark Falls'.

After paddling another falls below Waterpark, that we just routed behind Marcelo and Jake, we had linked together the crux section of the Rio Chepeco. The drive had been worth it, we'd finally managed to paddle something since the Rio Preto. That afternoon we began to scour the surrounding area on google earth because we never had imagined we'd have been in this area of Brazil. Surprisingly, we managed to find several worthy options for the following days. One of which, was another big falls about 15km downstream on the same river. We went to check it out that night and to our surprise it looked to be another epic First Descent to be had. That was our plan for the next day.

Barny and Jordy scouting the Falls.

After another quick scout the next morning, Barny and I decided on taking the 'safest' line near the centre of the falls, not keen to paddle the big-water right line or the huge boof on the left. When paddling the falls, Barny ended up ahead of me on the lead in so ended up going first. He styled the line, indicated to Ari it was all good and I paddled it just after him, but with one small difference. I landed about 2ft to the left of where Barny did and landed on a hidden rock outcrop instantly knowing I had hurt my back. After hand-paddling the big water paddle out Barny got me to the side and the boys helped me to the vehicle and we drove 7 hours to the hospital in Santa Catarina. That was my trip over, 3 cracked vertebrae, a hernia and a cracked disc.

My view pitching off the lip of Salto Saudades.

 Salto Saudades - EPIC

After 24 hours, I was discharged and able to head to Marcelo Ludvichak's house to begin my recovery and wait to fly home. Barny and Ari hung around for a few days to make sure I was all sorted but the show had to go on, so they hatched a plan to take advantage of some rain around Florianopolis and try for the first descent of the Rio Chicao. They teamed up with Marcelo, Jake and the Pagnoncelli brothers for this mission. Unfortunately, the boys initially hiked an hour or so in the wrong direction, but eventually made it to the lower Chicao and got another First Descent.

Maybe on the right track now

Barny stoked to finally be at the put-in

After this, the rains never really came to the state of Santa Cantarina again, but somehow the Itajai-Acu stayed at stomping flows, giving the boys some rowdy days of whitewater. Barny and Ari even went so far to drive even further south to the state of Rio Grande do Sul to check out some whitewater potential. Ari decided to paddle a super clean 30, but with low water, meaning a heavy hit, bagging himself a solo First Descent. After that the boys came back to SC to paddle some more laps of the Itajai-Acu, got a lap down the classic overnight trip on the Cubatao do Parana.

 Ari routing the Itajai-Acu at highwater, the saving grace on the rains
stopped in SC.

Ari getting another First Descent

 The waterfall on the Cubatao do Parana

All in all our trip was a success, we managed to get our 6 First Descents but we left a whole lot more unpaddled than we would have liked to. But that is the nature of adventure recreation. You cannot guarantee anything, you cannot control the weather, you can only put in as much effort as possible, and stay positive. That we did, and we got a result. That said, I am sure we will be trying to get back there to finish what we have started.