Rio Quijos (Cheese House)
|Stretch:||From Cheese House to Bridge #1|
|Difficulty:||Class IV+ (low) to V (high)|
|Flows:||No gauge. Visual only…|
|Put-in:||Dirt road at the Cheese House near the confluence with the Papallacta|
|Take-out:||Bridge #1 near Baeza|
|Shuttle:||3.6 miles on good road|
|Featured in A Wet State: #82 and in A Wet State's contribution to World Kayak's Video Guide|
Ecuador 2013 Day 3 and 10:
Our third day of boating was our first day of it being solo, just Diane and I. We had a little beta on the run, namely that the first rapid was one of the worst and worth a look. Our hope this day was to do a quick morning lap in the morning and then catch a bus down to San Rafael Falls in the afternoon. Of course we weren’t thinking about the fact that this was Christmas Day and that the buses would not be running in the afternoon. Oh well.
The Cheese House (or Casa de Queso) section of the Quijos is one of the classics of the region. It is dependable to have water thanks to snow melt off of the nearby volcano and is runnable at both low and relatively high water. We of course only had low water but found the run to still be very enjoyable class IV+ with perhaps one that borders on class V at these flows. Due to its short length most folks choose to either lap it or add the Bridge to Bridge section to it just downriver. Even that though is a relatively short day.
The run is a mix of continuous rapids with a few spicy spots which need to be respected. Diane and I hoped out to scout at the Man Made Rapid, Das Boof, Power House and Piggly Wiggly. Which also resulted in us sneaking Das Boof and the Man Made Rapid and portaging Power House on our first lap. When you see Power House at low water you will see the line but have doubts that it will work out well. Piggly Wiggle I scouted and reported that it went just fine down the middle. But apparently I was further from the rapid that I though as this is the biggest rapid on the run in my mind. Luckily it went well enough for us so Diane wasn’t too upset with me leading her into it blind with no beta. Luckily we got the opportunity to return to the run on New Years day with some new friends from Quebec. As they had gotten lines from folks who knew the run they were able to show us the main lines on all the rapids and Cheese House went from a meh run to one of my favorites on the trip.
Also, as this area is popular, I am sure all of the rapids on these rivers have real names… but I don’t know them.
- Man Made Rapid (IV+ to V). There are several lines that work on this one. The entry is a ramp into a fast hole. The second part is the crux, the cleanest and easiest line is down the right over the curler. A harder line would be a hard right to left across the main current. We also snuck it the first day far left in a junky micro channel. I have also seen folks sneak it for right in another junky micro channel. Scout right. The next part was best run down the middle through a good size hole. Though one person also went right which was just fine. The exit is a hole that you want to be left of.
Boogie (IV). A brief section of boogie leads to a sticky drop that should be scouted if you don’t know where you are going as Das Boof is notorious…
Das Boof (IV to IV+). There is an eddy just above the drop on the left. We caught that and scouted . The downside of that eddy however is that you are limiting your ability to drive left to boof the main hole. Instead, we ground around the hold on the right. Our second lap we just routed straight to the curler and launched a boof over the main hole. This hole has recirculated people though so be careful.
A beautiful view of a triple falls comes into frame just below.
- Power House (IV+). This rapid appears on a hard left corner of the river. A large eddy is on the right but to scout you have to be on the left. The line is simple and obvious… boof straight down the middle. But looks horrible due to the fact it is straight through a rock pile. It goes just fine though. Once through the rocks, punch the hole in the exit.
More Boogie (IV to IV+). Some really fun boogie in this section. One rapid leads to a fun hole to boof. Another splits around an island, both sides with good lines.
- Piggly Wiggle (IV+ to V). A straight away leads the water to some boulders where you can see it slip right and away from view. Catch the eddy at the top on the right to scout. The rapid is a series of ledges with varying degrees of punch as well as a few rocks strewn about in the ledges as well. There are number of lines, some went down the left side, I went down the middle once and down the right another time. Really good fun. There was a good hole on the right at the bottom though so best to work back left by the bottom.
A handful of mellow boogie rapids leads you the bridge and the end of the section.
Take-out: Just upstream from Baeza where the main road crosses the Quijos.
Put-in: Upstream from Baeza ~4 miles until you see the triple falls and round a corner to a house that has a dirt road leading down the hill steeply to the river. Park at the bottom next to the river.
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