Bookworm of Edwards hosts first woman to kayak Amazon river from source to sea at Monday event
These days it seems like extreme sports are all around us. People like Alex Honnold, Shaun White and Kelly Clark are household names for their daring stunts and accomplishments. Now there’s another name to add to that list: Darcy Gaechter.
Gaechter will be discussing and signing copies of her new memoir “Amazon Woman,” which details her expedition to kayak the Amazon river from source to sea. The event is Monday at 6 p.m. in the Bookworm of Edwards.
Darcy Gaechter has always had a love of the outdoors. Since learning to ski at age 2, she has been immersed in the world of outdoor adventure sports. “My father was a ski patroller, so I grew up skiing and hiking with my parents,” Gaechter said. “I loved how the outdoors challenged me, and kept pushing me to do more and reach higher.”
When she graduated college, she knew she wanted a job outdoors. “I was wandering around town, looking for a landscaping job when I ran into an old track coach who worked as a rafting guide during the summer,” Gaechter said. “I signed on and decided I needed to learn to kayak too, since that’s what all the 25-something cool older guides did for fun.”
Little did she know that this love of kayaking and the world of outdoor sports would take her to Ecuador, where she and her partner, Don Beveridge, would set up a whitewater kayaking business during the summers. That’s where she met Midge.
“He was firmly in the middle of a mid-life crisis,” Gaechter said. “He was working a job as a computer programmer and felt like he was wasting his life behind a desk. He said he needed one great adventure to make his whole life worth it. That’s when he brought up this idea for the Amazon.”
Midge came back to train with Gaechter and Beveridge for almost a decade to become a Class V whitewater kayaker. When he still insisted on kayaking the Amazon from source to sea, he asked them to come along. Then the planning began.
“The logistical planning was the hardest part. My whole life had prepared me for the physical challenges of the trip, but there were so many moving parts to map out,” Gaechter said. “We had to coordinate food drops by locals, Peruvian navy vessel escorts in the flat water, and a liaison to follow us in a canoe to communicate with the local indigenous populations. And that’s just naming a few.”
The entire journey took 148 days, with 25 days of straight whitewater kayaking in Class V conditions. At the end of it all, Gaechter had become the first woman to ever kayak the Amazon River from source to sea.
“I’m a woman and short and skinny and I’ve always aspired to do things that other people don’t think I can do,” Gaechter said. “I’m lucky in that I never listened to people telling me I couldn’t do things, and I hope that any person reading this sees that if you can tune out the naysayers, you can do anything you want to do, no matter how difficult or impossible it seems.”
If you go …
What: Author Darcy Gaechter
When: Monday, March 9 at 6 p.m.
Where: The Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St., Riverwalk in Edwards
Cost: $10 ticket
More information: Call 970-926-7323 or visit http://www.bookwormofedwards.com