Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Heavy Rains in Brazil

Rio Santa Maria

Put In:    GPS (-27.0484929,-49.0920952)    Note: Information center and Gate

Take Out:     Note: As far down as you want to go

Class:    4-5 Flow dependent

Flow:    Visual, needs some rain

Description:    Located in the National Park of Serra do Itajaí just outside of the fairly large city of Blumenau. The common light afternoon rain showers make this section flow very consistently. Lower flow days make for a user friendly drop pool style run that is very manageable. With high flows, after a heavy rain, everything starts to link and becomes continuous; a local guide is stronly recommended for these higher flow days. 


Rio Forcaçāo

Put In:    GPS (-26.7327393,-49.5350614)    Note: Park and huck, multiple falls

Class:    5

Flow:    Visual, requires heavy rain

Description:    Park and huck options. The upper portion of this river has a tendency to create some fun waterfalls and slides. 

Caí River

Put In:    GPS (-29.269822, -50.754375)    Note: Hydro Dam    

Take Out:    GPS (-29.292196, -50.910232)    Note: First bridge crossing

Class:    5

Flow:    Visual, requires medium rain, entirely dam dependent

Description:    Put in is at a hydroelectric dam, so you need a bit of good luck and rain for it to run. Dam personnel seemed very ok with us being on the property; they even gave us a ride down the hill to the water. The section is 30+ km long, so bring a snack. Rock structue looks newer and volcanic, making it relatively sharp with tons of undercuts and sieves. The location is beautiful with huge towering rock formations whose huge walls also make this river very committing and pretty darn remote.  


Rio Cubatáo

Put In:    GPS (-27.711267, -48.852276)     Note: Small bridge   

Take Out:     GPS (-27.691320, -48.777066)    Note: Side of road

Class:    4-5, flow dependent

Flow:    Visual, requires light to heavy rain

Description:    There are two separate sections here: above and below the conflence near the city of Águas Mornas. Above the city, it feels fairly creeky with a handful of step rapids and one suggested portage. Below, it gets more water and has a full river feel with low angle slides.  

Cachoeira do Zimbira

Put In:    GPS (-27.647800, -48.863942)    Note: Tiny bridge, water should be flowing over some of it    

Take Out:    GPS (-27.664355, -48.855999)    Note: Side of road as you exit jungle

Class:    5

Flow:    Visual, requires heavy rain

Description:    This micro creek needs a ton of rain, so expect to encounter numerous down trees. Rapids come in quick succession with the ability to scout being massively hindered by the very dense jugle vegetation. A local guide is almost a necessity. The big drop is 20+ feet tall with a very deceptive lead-in and lip; scouting from river right is recommended. 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Braço do Norte, Brazil


Put In:    GPS    Put In (-27.88708, -49.06805)    Take Out (-27.96269, -49.08893)

Class:    4

Flow:    Visual, needs a solid rain

Description:     One of countless drainages near Floranopolis that are only paddled after a solid rain. It was actively dumping rain on us as we set shuttle. Drop pool rapids in a beautiful valley. Although there is some farming in the area, you are fairly remote. 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Rio Iapo and Tibaji, Brazil

Stunning views for the mile-ish hike in

Rio Iapo 

Put In:    GPS (-24.631704, -50.210583) Note: Hike in through farm land, down hill, and upstream.

Take Out:    GPS (-24.504276, -50.327558) Note: Private property? Bouncy dirt road.

Class:    4 (2 class 5 rapids, or easy portages on left) 

Flow:    Visual, has flow for longer into the season, large drainage.

Discription: This section is a solid day trip from most other paddling locations, but it's worth it. A relatively large watershed holds water late into the year. Mostly a class 4 section with two notable class 5 rapids, both are easily scouted or portaged river Left. Large Rock outcroppings at the put in are gorgeous.


Rio Iapo and Rio Tibaji Brazil from Chris Baer on Vimeo.

low lying clouds give scale to the valley

showing the gradient on the hike in

Joao Garbriel Araujo, getting his lean on

the first class 5, undercut landing zone on the left

one of the abundent class 4 ledges

Rio Tibaji 

Put In:    GPS (-24.469234, -50.476162)

Class:    4

Flow:    Visual, always has flow.

Discription:     Park and huck. Wide river section that will almost always have flow and an acceptable line. We ran it on the main flow, river right. Great camping options just upstream on river left.

signifigantly more water on the Tibaji

Hard Core Paddles

Let me be blunt: Hard Core Paddles are awesome. Their durability is solid, they have a ton of power, and the company offers multiple options on customization. They are well worth the price.

Last summer, I broke yet another Powerhouse. Destroying paddles is something that I have normalized. Every year or two I put myself in a situation that I stress a paddle beyond what it can handle… and it breaks. I reached out to a handful of shops looking for a replacement paddle – 4CRS, CKS, NRS, and even to Werner directly. All of them were backordered. COVID-19 was impacting the supply chain for everything from toilet paper to whitewater paddles.

I then pondered other options. AT was discontinued years ago. I love Jimi Styx, and have been using them for guiding rafts for years, but he’s currently backordered until 2022, and he doesn’t do bent shafts. The Euro paddles — Galasport, Double Dutch, and VE — all paddle well, but again are hard to find stateside. Whitewater Technologies is a new company that I’m excited to check out, but they are still in the construction phase. Coran’s updated Seven Two isn’t my style. Accent looks alright, but are known to have a heavy flutter. I was drawing a blank.

Then I remembered years ago, while paddling the Tumwater section of the Wenatchee, that I bumped into Andy and Mike Nash. They were passing out prototypes of a new paddle and talking up the fact that it had a wood shaft, a “Hard Core” (still sounds like an ‘80’s rock band to me). It looked interesting, but the round blades looked a bit small and we were about to put on at significant spring flows. That day, I missed a great opportunity due to my ignorance of paddle physics.

Years passed and I wondered what Hard Core Paddles was up to now. Their website is simple yet full of solid information. I liked what I saw, but I wanted more info, so I reached out with a generic instant message. Later that day, my phone rang. Mike (who physically builds the paddles) was on the other end. We chatted for over an hour, talking through some of my concerns and presenting me with insight into the paddle design. I took a chance, ordered one, and immediately took it to Brazil for a three-month test drive.

No photo description available. 

Here are some of my initial questions, and resulting personal experiences, after swinging a Hard Core paddle for three-months.

What if I just don’t like it? They have a satisfaction guarantee. Hell, they’ll even cover the return postage.

Durability? After three months of river abuse, and a ton of bouncing around in the cargo bay of multiple planes, busses, pickup trucks, and being used as a tarp pole, my paddle showed very limited wear. Yes there is superficial scratching, but it wasn’t shrinking like a fiberglass Werner.

Power? The blade is relatively round and the surface area is about 40 cm² less than my old standard Powerhouse. The blade shape shares a classic River Styx style. This all initially concerned me. I like a powerful blade and these seemed like old school designs and techniques. Mike dropped a knowledge bomb on me here and started talking about dihedrals. Most aggressively shaped paddles need a fairly aggressive dihedral to eliminate paddle flutter, hence losing a large percentage of their power. A balanced, rounder, paddle blade doesn’t flutter nearly as much and you can limit the dihedral. This effectively gives you more powerful pull in a smaller blade size. If that is all a bit nerdy for you, just know there is a ton of power in these mid-sized round blades.

Paddle Length vs Grip Width? As bent shaft paddles get longer, the grip width gets wider; the idea is that a bigger person would want a longer paddle and a wider grip. This ratio of grip width to paddle length has become dated. The modern creek boat has a significantly larger volume than it did 20 years ago. These larger boats have created a demand for a longer paddle to help control them. Hard Core has thought about this, and rescaled their ratio for paddle length to grip width. This allows you to bump up three to six centimeters in paddle length and keep your familiar grip width.

Flex? It’s a carbon paddle, it feels pretty darn stiff. The wood core does manage to shine through here and work its magic. The wood’s natural flex patterns elongate the power transfer, just a bit, making the joints feel better after a long week. The wood core also means that they retain warmth much better on those really frigid days.

Lead Time? Average delivery time is under a week from order.

Human Factor? Your paddle is built by Mike Nash out of his “garage” in Gold Bar, Washington.

Price? $440 It’s more than many other fiberglass models out there but it fits right in with any of the other high end carbon paddles on the market.

If you’re in the market for a solid, powerful paddle, Hard Core is making them, locally, and at a fair price. And mention this article for $15 bucks back on your purchase.