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River Gear Mule and Guide School

02/15/18

In 1999 I moved to Costa Rica to learn to guide rivers. West Virginia was a consideration, but what Appalachia and its dueling banjos did to this child of Cuban immigrants was the equivalent of “Jaws” to landlocked city slickers. Having seen “Deliverance” once was enough for me. Even though the jungles of Costa Rica are known to have some of the most aggressive and venomous snakes in the world I chose to focus on blue morpho butterflies, oropendolas, and toucans.

Some would argue that a story involving Latin America is not truly a good one without some kind of smuggling and as a 22-year-old heading for the first time into the wild Americas to live, I found immediate favor as a mule. My intention is not to raise eyebrows. We are well beyond statutes of limitations here and I was not ingesting baggies or bringing in any contraband. The manager for the company I was training for had a little business on the side. Those of you who have traveled in Latin America know that most everyone has a little something on the side. My new boss was no exception as he sold much needed and coveted river gear from the USA to guides. If family, friends, or a river trainee to be like me, could make it through customs and the goods be undeclared and not taxed, then so be it. With me coming to Costa Rica from Miami he knew I could bring the motherlode of PFD's, NRS straps, Chacos, throw bags, webbing, helmets, kayak paddles, Patagonia board shorts, splash tops, carabineers, dry bags etc., with me on my journey. I stuffed as much gear as I could into a Dagger “Medieval” kayak and put the rest into 5 giant bill’s dry bags from NRS. I packed a North Face backpack for myself with my copies of Siddhartha, On The Road, and the Tao Te Ching… I boarded the plane on Martin Air in MIA and looked forward to the sweet jungle rivers to save me from the comfort, allure, and practicality of a life settled and sedentary.

As a child of immigrants that lost everything and had to start from scratch, river guiding was not the calling they envisioned me to pursue. Doctor, lawyer, business magnate or tenured professor at an esteemed educational institution was more what they had in mind. My father called the profession glorified taxi driving. Shortly after I arrived, The Tico Times, the American newspaper in Costa Rica, had an article published with the title “River Guides…More Than Carnival Workers?” With the reputation of being transient vagabonds, Jedi mystics, river rats, and all around debaucherous degenerates… I couldn’t wait to enter their world and see if I was cut from the same cloth.

On May 27, 2018, we are putting together a Guide School/River Intensive that is really a one of a kind experience. The 10-day intensive is for anybody that is looking to learn more about river outfitting and is looking for employment in either of our river operations, both of our operations, or just desires to be an extremely solid and well-trained private boater that could be an asset to any trip. Our training takes place over 10 days in Colorado and Utah on 3 rivers, the Colorado River, the Green River, and the Yampa River. Our training is multidisciplinary and geared towards turning our participants into river men and river women. That means that no one is a one trick pony. Our guides will be exposed and be given the foundational skills to row gear, paddle guide, and SUP guide. We will exceed the minimum hours and miles required by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and our guides will be able to be licensed to guide in both Colorado and Utah. What takes this opportunity to another stratosphere is running a 4-day high-water Yampa River multi Day. It is a very hard permit to get privately and as the last free-flowing river in the west that is a major tributary of the Colorado River System, a definite notch on any boating resume. Apart from the required rigging, maneuvering, swift water rescue topics that will be covered, the participant will experience first hand all that goes on in the preparation and fulfillment of a top tier multi-day experience. If you are planning on working commercially, leading river trips, or joining friends on their permits…everything you learn from us can make you an invaluable guest on the trip.

Edward Abbey in his homage to rivers and river people “Down the River,” describes guides as follows…

“Good men these boatmen. Generous, vigorous, competent types. The exasperating kind of people who can do and do well most anything: hunt and fish naturally. Build a boat, a house, or a hogan. Repair and outboard motor in rapids or fix a truck engine in a sandstorm. Pitch tents, build fires, cook meals in driving rain. Great Lovers? Of course. Truthful? Undoubtedly drink you under the table any day. Sporting men? You name the game, poker, pool, craps, Frisbee, backgammon, macrame, Monopoly-they’ll play it…”

We are looking at growing our tribe and bringing in the right personalities that fit in well with the team we already have. A sense of humor, inherent love of the outdoors, working well within a group, and calm under pressure are requirements. We are a small company but our dreams are huge. If the river already runs through your blood or if there is something about it that calls you. If you are daring enough to be vulnerable and courageous. If you are open to letting the forces that have shaped these majestic canyons over millions of years nurture and transform you. If there is a heroic call for adventure you have been following, keeping at bay or suppressing until this moment in time, I welcome you as kin. I ask you to consider joining us this May and early June. Like when I left the comfort of everything I knew almost 20 years ago to train in the rivers of the jungle, I know without a doubt, it was the best decision I made in my life. One day you may look back and say the same.

Javier Placer

CEO/River Manager

Adrift Adventures
Stand Up Paddle Colorado

Interested in our 10-day intensive? Click HERE.


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Peace in Red Canyons

02/12/18

There is a feeling you get on a multi-day trip that borders on the ineffable. When it's sunrise and you happen to be up. A light blanket of morning dew laying on everything. The steep canyon walls with morning glow like a gentle museum light accentuating a 62 million-year-old geological masterpiece. The occasional tent or hammock pepper the landscape. Camp chairs are displaced around in clusters and the occasional one is off on its own. The rafts are anchored at the stake, beached. An occasional doe checks in. Critters creep about for potential bounty from the previous nights shenanigans. Whatever happens anywhere else in the universe at this moment is irrelevant. Coffee is about to start brewing, the coolers have food, the gear is top notch and the magic of the canyon is meeting you where you are. Later on there will be miles to cover. There will be rapids and hikes but for now, there is peace.

If you are called at all to the experiences and landscapes that I have described here. If there is a longing in your heart to slow down, get away and take some time in a remote wonderland of surrender and serenity. Please look over our signature trips and specialty trips we have been working hard to cultivate for you. We look forward to sharing our peace with you.

Javier Placer

CEO/River Manager

Adrift Adventures
Stand Up Paddle Colorado

Experience peace in the Red Canyons. Check out our specialty trips HERE.


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Paddle For Houston – A Message From Our CEO

10/12/17

In 1992 I was 15 years old in Miami.  I remember tracking Hurricane Andrew, through school and then the reality hitting that it was coming right for us.   It was a mad dash to the store, to get extra food, water, supplies etc.  This was all pre-internet, cell phones and social media.  Everyone who was not evacuated hunkered down in their homes and tried as best they could to ride out the Category 5 storm.

Seeing social media posts, videos and news coverage of Houston brings it all back.  We had higher winds in Miami but nowhere near that amount of water.  I remember neighbors rallying together and helping each other.  I remember not having electricity and being out of school for a few weeks after the storm.

I started Stand Up Paddle Colorado in 2009 in the Vail Valley.  The amount of families, patrons and business we have gotten from people that live in the area affected by Hurricane Harvey has been significant.  I think that it is fair to deduce that the Texas market is one of the largest contributors to winter and summer tourism in Colorado.

As someone who has been through a highly destructive storm and someone who has seen what the long road to rebuilding and recovery is like…we at Stand Up Paddle Colorado would like to do our part and contribute to the aid going down to Texas.  This Sunday, September 3, 100% of our revenue generated at our Lake Dillon and Nottingham Lake location is going to go straight to All Hands Volunteers effort in Houston.  The Town of Avon Recreation Department is contributing their share of our concession as well to this cause.

We urge you to come out and have a great time on the water with your friends and family, knowing that it is going to help Texan communities rebuild after this devastating storm.  We look forward to sharing on all platforms and getting the word out, in hopes of inspiring other businesses to share, support, match or do something similar to help the cause.

Gratefully yours,

Javier Placer
CEO Stand Up Paddle Colorado


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Paddle Houston

10/12/17

On August 26, 2017, Hurricane Harvey began to make landfall on Southeastern Texas. For days, Houston and the surrounding communities were devastated with torrential rain, upwards of 30 inches in parts – major flooding, wind gusts up to 132 mph, massive destruction of property and the loss of 70 lives.

At 16, Javier Placer, CEO of Stand Up Paddle Colorado, lived in Miami and experienced the devastation of Hurricane Andrew first hand. With sustained winds of 165 mph, the hurricane destroyed more than 63,500 homes and caused $26.5 billion in damage. This historical moment is forever ingrained in Javier’s memory.

“I remember how barren Miami was. Boulevards once lined with palm trees were empty. It took a long time to rebuild after the hurricane, years.” He lived through the experience and helped rebuild his home and community. This rebuilding inspired Paddle for Houston.

In an effort to help rebuild Houston, Stand Up Paddle Colorado dedicated September 3rd as Paddle For Houston. All of the proceeds from rentals at our Nottingham Lake and Lake Dillon locations went to an organization to assist those devastated by Harvey. Being that it was Labor Day weekend, the “end of summer”, we weren’t sure what to expect. But, in the end, we were absolutely mesmerized by the incredible outpouring of community support.

Not only did the Avon Recreation Department join us in contributing their proceeds, but there were also hundreds of people who supported Paddle for Houston by renting equipment. Javier noted, “We were blown away by peoples generosity and sharing during the event we hosted. People came out and they gave more than the rental fees.” In total, with the help of the community, we raised $9,589. Thank You!

We are donating 100% of the proceeds to All Hands Volunteers, an organization near and dear to the SUPCO family.

“All Hands Volunteers is a US-based, 501(c)3 non-profit organization that addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters by engaging and leveraging volunteers, partner organizations and local communities. Our vision is to demonstrate the power and value of volunteer service through the tangible work done, the hope it brings to suffering communities and the transformative experiences it provides for volunteers.”

Javier stated, “Now that the storm has passed and the waters receded, we have to make sure the money is being appropriated equally and even the disenfranchised are able to get help and funds needed to rebuild their American dream. We have history with All Hands and some of our owners and employees donated time, labor and resources to the Haiti Earthquake and hurricane Sandy relief effort.” After the powerful 7.0 earthquake leveled Haiti in 2010, SUPCO business partner Scotty Stoughton flew to Haiti and volunteered for All Hands for two weeks. Scotty’s positive experience in Haiti, and with the organization, was inspiring to us all. Along with the donation, Scotty will be volunteering his time with All Hands in Houston to help the rebuilding efforts.

We couldn’t have done it without all of the incredible people who came to the event. We THANK YOU for your extra efforts, which will be tremendous for Houston.

While we didn’t have any idea Hurricane Irma was right behind Harvey, there is now more need to help rebuild. Please, consider donating to Helping Hands in their effort to help US Hurricane Relief. And, if possible, volunteer with the organization and help rebuild lives and communities devastated by the hurricanes.


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