Ep 35. Defy Expectations with the Amazon Woman. Darcy Gaechter on the TripOutside Podcast


Darcy is the author of the book, The Amazon Woman and the co-owner of the Whitewater Kayaking business Smallworldadventures.com

Darcy, along with 2 others, became the first group to kayak the Amazon river from source to sea. I had the privilege of talking to Darcy about her journey and her adventure mindset on this podcast episode. I hope you enjoy the podcast, here is a short summary of some of the topics that we dived into.

How Darcy got into Whitewater Kayaking and what she loves about it

A college friend invited her to skip the fall semester and kayaking in Nepal. She was stoked about the adventure and traveling internationally. By going kayaking in Nepal, she was able to get away from the big tourist areas and find remote places to explore and she truly enjoyed that style of expedition traveling and which made her fall in love with kayaking. That’s the style of kayaking that has kept Darcy loving whitewater kayaking. She enjoys getting as far off the beaten path as possible and challenging herself while seeing new places.

Darcy Gaechter

How Darcy Gaechter sees the big challenges and overcomes the obstacles that appear in the big adventures that she takes

The way she has learned to overcome it is by embracing the challenges. Going into these trips with the mindset with the attitude that things are going to go wrong. You can hope everything goes well, but the reality is that there are definitely unexpected things that will go wrong. She really believes the stoic philosophy shared in the book, The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday. She thinks of this phrase often when she finds herself faced with expedition challenges.

Darcy Gaechter Whitewater kayaking

How did the Amazon trip come about and what was your motivation to join Midge on the trip?

The trip came about in an unlikely way by David Midgley, “Midge” a brilliant programmer from London who was having a midlife crisis and thought he was going to waste his life away sitting behind a computer writing code. During this time he started thinking that if he could do one big adventure in his life, he could die a happy man. While he was searching for his adventure, he came across an interesting stat that more people had walked on the moon than descended the Amazon river from source to sea. Everyone who had gone down the river had hiked around the whitewater, or did it on a raft, or only did certain sections. He decided he wanted to be the first person to whitewater kayak the Amazon river. He reached out to SWA to train him to turn him into an expert whitewater kayaker.  After a decade of training, Midge invited Don and Darcy to join him on the trip.

Kayaking the amazon river

Could you share a bit more about the Amazon river trip? What were some of the challenges you had to overcome on the trip and how long did it take?

The trip took 148 days, with 25 days of whitewater and the rest was flat water. Darcy’s personality seems to downplay the difficulties but she did want to share the obstacles in the book.

Some of them were: There was a dam being built on the river which brought on some immense logistical challenges on top of the physical efforts. One of the logistical challenges was to find the company, find the construction manager and negotiate a time for the company to stop blasting for a window to allow the group to pass. The group had negotiated 3 hours to get through this area but it took them 6 hours which turned into a day of terror to survive the whitewater section.

Physically, they were taking medication to prevent Malaria which gives you a heightened sensitivity to the sun, and because of it, the group’s fingernails started becoming irradiated and the UV light reflection from the water was causing their fingernails to die and detach from their fingers. It caused excruciating pain when they got caught on anything like changing clothes.

Mentally, keeping the team dynamic was difficult through all of the challenges and staying with a group of 3 over 148 days. It was a constant balance of keeping physical, mental, and emotional in check and keeping the focus on completing the Amazon river. The only thing that mattered was paddling downstream and focusing on completing the challenge.

What message do you have for anyone that is feeling external societal pressures and think that the big goals are unachievable for them?

When Darcy was younger, she drew a lot of motivation from anger. She would be mad when people told her that she couldn’t do something, she wanted to prove them wrong. When she realized that other people are watching her and that she is inspiring others, she now feels that she draws inspiration from the idea that her actions are inspiring others.

Darcy Gaechter carrying a kayak



Order the book, Amazon Woman https://darcygaechter.com/amazon-woman

Send Darcy a note if you enjoyed the podcast! https://darcygaechter.com/contact

Follow on IG https://www.instagram.com/darcygaechter/

Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/tripoutside/message

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