With one more day to spend in Baños before heading out to Lago Quilotoa, I decided to join Nick on a Canyoning tour of a local river. I’d rapelled lots of times recently in my climbing course, so I figured that it would be within my capabilities to do the same thing in the middle of a waterfall…?!
As it turned out, it was a little bit more tricky than I had counted on. The first couple of waterfalls were easy, you could maintain your footing and just get distracted a little bit by the heavy spray of water over your face and body.
This, however, was not the case on the following waterfall. My guide gave me the usual advice: keep my feet really high, lean far back into my harness, and keep my stance nice and wide over the falls. The first two were easy enough to follow, but this waterfall was so big and powerful that I was really struggling to maintain a stance that had my feet clear of the heavy pounding water. Compounding the issue was the lack of grip in the super cheap (and in my case, too large) shoes, that just kept slipping. And before I knew it, I lost my footing, fell against the brute force of the waterfall and found myself being pounded against the rock, with water falling on my head with such force I couldn’t gasp for air.
I kept telling myself to stay calm and think of a solution. I could hear the guide yelling something at me from above, but I had no idea what he was saying. I kept trying to get a foot hold while holding my breath, and eventually just let out some more rope in the hope that the flow of water might change and I’d be able to get a grip on the side of the falls.
After what seemed like forever, I was able to do so, and quickly lowered myself to the pool below and one of the group members, Florian, grabbed me and helped me away from the water to a rock to sit. I was gasping for air and only now realized how fast my heart was beating, pushing the adrenaline around my body. Florian was also pretty shook up because he’d witnessed the whole event from below. He said he’d been terrified that I might drown and didn’t know what to do to help me. Poor guy, he was super sweet to be so concerned.
To add insult to injury, our guide was wearing a Go Pro and captured the whole embarrassing episode on video which I’ve added here for your viewing pleasure.
Feeling quite shaken, I was very scared to complete the next and final waterfall descent. However, I didn’t really have a choice because there wasn’t a way to hike out of this location. Luckily, there was an option to descend on the drier side of the waterfall which I did, very thankful and proud of myself once my feet touched solid ground.
Andrew Pessin said:
you are officially my hero. (Of course you’ve long officially been my hero but after watching that video — holy cow. i think you’ve scared me so much i’m not even going to take any more showers.)
Andy. I love you. I know that you know that, but I’m going to remind you just in case.
I hope I didn’t over-dramatize…it wasn’t really THAT bad!
Wow, when I first watched the video I had no idea how bad it was until I read the account. Some scary shit you went through!!! You are so brave…none of the things you do on this trip would i ever consider in a million years…I am so the total opposte of you…wonder sometimes how come we share DNA. but anyway…fantastic read, very tense and well dramatised (not over, imo) about the whole waterfall thing, and wow scary that you had to go through get another one after your mishap.
keep travelling and blogging!!! its all very entertaining for us here behind our computer screens. Mom loves them too.
You make me smile Pooh!