Rio Piatua, Ecuador – High Water


December 19, 2016

One group of my German kayaking friends went up early to check water levels and put-in at the upper (road bridge) access point. When they looked at the river at the bottom it was clear and looked to be at a good level. By the time they got to the upper put-in (20 minutes) it was chocolate brown and way high. All but one retreated to the lower put-in (footbridge) where our second group met them.

German kayakers debating whether to run or not.

German kayakers debating whether to run or not.

None of them wanted to run it this high and headed for the lower Anzu, a much easier run. I elected to wait for Jurgen, the lone kayaker, to come down the river and join him for the rest of the way. He got there quicker than anyone thought and, not expecting me, almost paddled by. Good thing I yelled! He pulled over and after a short break we continued down river.

Put-in below the footbridge on the Rio Piatua.

Put-in below the footbridge on the Rio Piatua.

The action starts immediately and never really lets up at this flow. Here is some typical “boogie water” at this high flow.

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I was glad I had watched some videos of this section as it assured me that I could do this section and not run into any too-narrow slots.It did warn of a river wide hole with a softer seam on the right. I found it and luckily was on the right at that point! Downstream are some nice puffy holes like this one.

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The crux of this run is a major rock jumble about 3/4 or more of the way down. The center rock creates a huge hole at this level and there is a pour over on the right just above the big hole. Definitely Class IV+ at this flow. There seemed to be a tight line on river left that didn’t eat too much of the holes but from where I scouted, there was no way to get back left. So I just worked my down the right and then “Flintstoned” my way around the crux boulder.

My view re-entering the river below the Class IV+

My view re-entering the river below the Class IV+

Jurgen opted for the “chicken chute” which was much to narrow for the cat.

Chicken Chute. Left of the rock is BIG.

Chicken Chute. Left of the rock is BIG.

The action continues downstream to the Cabanas Piatua footbridge where many opt to take out. Jurgen and I continued down to the confluence with the Rio Anzu. A quick ferry across the Anzu and we were at our take-out. The Rio Anzu was running quite high but my kayaking friends had a good day on the Class III lower Anzu. After trying in vain to reach them to maybe share a taxi from the take-out, we carried our boats up to the highway (about 200 yards). The International Travel cat made this a breeze. I carried it whole all by myself. After deflating and rolling the tubes, we were ready for a ride. Luckily the next bus that came along was a long-distance bus with storage bays underneath. They stopped and were really friendly about fitting the frame, tubes, oars, and Jurgen’s kayak inside. Off we went to the terminal in Tena. Super easy! A short taxi ride from the terminal and I was back home at Zumag Sisa.

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Hostel Zumag Sisa in Tena, Ecuador

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All set for International Travel, including my personal gear in the blue dry bag.

All set for International Travel, including my personal gear in the blue dry bag.

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