Super User

Super User


Aaron Cavagnolo, Personal Reflections

Expedition Leader Aaron Cavagnolo
Davis, California

Aaron started guiding as a student at the University of California, Davis where he received a degree in civil engineering. After graduating, he continued to guide on the Grand Canyon, Cherry Creek and the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Internationally Aaaron has guided in New Zealand, Peru through the Colca Canyon and for 5 years in Chile on the Futaleufu. He has taught numerous guide schools and worked as an instructor for Outward Bound. When not guiding he has worked as a math teacher and water polo coach at Wagner College. Aaron has been a an EMT for ten years and is currently applying to medical school. His interest is emergency medicine which will allow him the flexibility to continue guiding.


Back to guides

Magpie Gear and Clohting LIst

Please make sure you bring the following things. If you have any questions call our office. If you don’t already have a local supplier for purchasing your river gear, we recommend Northwest River Supplies. They are familiar with our trips, sell quality gear and provide excellent service and competitive prices .

[ ] Small, lightweight, compressible sleeping pad. Do not bring foam pads because they do not compress well and space is an issue on the baggage boats.

[ ] Lightweight compressible sleeping bag with a rating down to 35 degrees.

[ ] *waterproof paddle jacket

[ ] *Waterproof Paddle pants

[ ] 3 quick drying synthetic shirts (heavy, medium & light) (also known as Synchilla, fleece, pile, polypro or Capilene. )

[ ] *river shoes (important) (preferably 5-10 with stealth soles)

[ ] *neck buff

[ ] baseball cap to fit under a helmet

[ ] water bottle with locking carabineer attachment for clipping into boat. Note: Carbineer must lock so that if a boat flips there is no way to get hooked on the carabineer. Do not bring non-locking carabineers.

[ ] lightweight hiking shoes.sneakers

[ ] *sun glasses with neck strap

[ ] headlamp (flashlight) with batteries

[ ] good quality rain jacket with hood (Paddle jacket will suffice)

[ ] 2 synthetic pants (Synchilla, fleece, pile or polypro)

[ ] 4 pairs of underpants

[ ] 3 socks (2 pair synthetic quick drying)

[ ] 2 additional pairs of cotton socks

[ ] medium weight jacket (big agnes dry down compressible jackets are great)

[ ] 2 short sleeved shirts

[ ] 1 long pants

[ ] 1 shorts (synthetic and quick drying)

[ ] long sleeved shirt (light colored to reflect sun)

[ ] bathing suit

[ ] toilet kit

[ ] *soap (only Dr. Bronners can be used in the river)

[ ] small towel

[ ] sunscreen

  • *Headlamp (flash light): A good headlamp is a valuable tool for any river trip because it keeps your hands free. Princeton Tech makes an excellent, lightweight, inexpensive ($30) LCD light that will last 80 hours on one set of batteries called the Aurora.
  • *River shoes: River shoes should stick to wet rocks, not come off in a strong current and should protect your toes. The water on the river is not that cold (68 degrees) so you do not need wetsuit booties. Sandles are not suitable river shoes because they do not protect your feet and are difficult to swim in if you unexpectedly end up in the water. We strongly recommend Five-Ten shoes with “Stealth soles. They will work well on the rafts and most importantly for hiking around on wet rocks. A “stealth” bottom sole is the only shoe that will stick to wet rocks, period! Five-ten is the only company that uses “Stealth” soles. You can find a store that sells them by going to . If you can not find a store that handles them they can be purchased directly from the company by going to their website. The water tennie is the preferred model and they do not come insmaller woman's sizes. A good alternative is the woman's guide shoe which also has the "stealth" bottom and comes in small sizes.
  • *Paddle jacket & paddle pants: It is mandatory to have a waterproof paddle jacket and paddle pants on the river. This will keep you warm and relatively dry and is worn over your synthetic shirts.
  • *Soap and Shampoo: Because you will be washing in the river it is imperitive that you bring only Dr. Bronners soap which can be purchased at health food stores. It is made from natural ingredients and does not pollute.
    *Neck buffs (neck gators): Neck buffs are stretchy, circular scarfs that pull over your head and go around your neck. They are available from multiple venders on the internet for between $12 and $20. We purposely wait for August to run the Magpie when most of the black flies have left but there can always been a few remaining and their favorite target is the neck and behind the ears. A neck buff will protect you in these areas as they can be pulled over the back of your head if necessary. They are also excellent for sun protection and warmth.

NOTE: You will be limited to 22 pounds for the expedition, so you must limit yourself to what will fit into the medium size waterproof bag Earth River will supply you with. Additional belongings can be left at the hotel at the start of the trip.


  1. waterproof river bag
  2. Tent
  3. cup, plate and eating utensils.
  4. life jacket (type 5) paddle, helmet
  5. self-bailing rafts and kayaks
  6. Satellite phone, first aid kit,


[ ] personal medication

[ ] breakdown fishing pole

[ ] camera, film, and soft waterproof case (no metal ammo cans)

[ ] binoculars

[ ] book

[ ] journal and pen

[ ] lightweight bicycle gloves (for paddling)

[ ] pocketknife

[ ] tampons, lip protection, other personal needs


Each year a few people (approx. 2%) end up on our trips without their belongings. By the time they receive them from the air carrier the trip is over. Because this is a real possibility we highly recommend the following steps to protect your self. Pack all necessary river gear (fleece, paddle jacket, river shoes, hat, sun glasses, bathing suit, etc.) into the largest legal carry on bag you can find and don’t check it. Pack everything else in a regular suitcase. This way if you become separated from you checked bag you will have the most important things for the river as well as the clothes on your back for camp. A couple of year we started recommending this packing plan to our guests. Since then we have averaged about 6 people a year who arrived to do a trip without their checked bags. In each case they had packed their river gear in carry ons and all were able to complete the trip with little discomfort. 

Magpie General Information


Because of the limited number of Magpie trips we run, our Magpie trips generally fill up and it is often difficult to fill a spot that is left vacant by a cancellation, especially at the last minute. If there is any chance you may have to cancel your trip, you must purchase travel insurance for your protection. Insurance will cover every aspect of your trip including: your deposit, lost baggage and unforeseeable medical emergencies and evacuation. Please contact our office if you have any questions concerning trip insurance.


People generally arrive in Sept Isle at different times by either air or car. If you are driving please contact our office for driving times and ferry information. Sept Isle has a small airport and a 15 minute taxi ride will take you to the Hotel Chateau Arnaud Hotel for $20 Canadian. If you're arriving the day before (which is always a good idea) you should make a reservation to stay at the  Château Arnaud: 403 Avenue Arnaud, Sept-Îles, QC G4R 3A7, Canada Phone: (855) 960-5511


Unless you’ve requested a single supplement ($80), you will be sharing a hotel room at the trip’s conclusion with a roommate of the same sex. Individual travelers do not need to share a tent on the river. If by chance you end up in a single room, due to odd numbers, you will not be charged any additional money. Note: If you would like a single room, it will cost an additional $80 and must be requested and paid for before you leave the U.S.


We will meet in the lobby of the Chateau Arnaud Hotel at 11:00 A.M. on day one (either Saturday or Sunday depending upon the departure). 

Château Arnaud Address: 403 Avenue Arnaud, Sept-Îles, QC G4R 3A7, Canada Phone: (855) 960-5511


Paddling in whitewater rafts and kayaks is somewhat demanding and participants should be in good physical condition. If you are not currently in good condition, you should become involved in an exercise program prior to the expedition. Safety aside, being fit will improve the quality of your experience.


Because the river builds in intensity with the most challenging rapids coming towards the end of the trip this is the perfect river for a first time rafter as well as a seasoned one. It is also one of the best beginner/intermediate inflatable kaying rivers in the world.


You will need a current passport for traveling into Canada by air. You should have a passport even if you're driving up,


Airfare from the US to Sept Isle, Quebec is not included in the trip price and must be arranged independently or through your travel agent. You will need to arrive in the morning at the trip’s start and can fly out anytime on the final day.

*Note: (The charter float plane into lake Magpie at the trip’s start is included.)


From the time we meet you in the lobby of the Chateau Arnaud Hotel on day one, until you arrive back at the hotel on day nine, all expenses (except trip DVD) including group meals, lodging and transportation are included in the trip price.

NOTE: Breakfast the final morning is not included. Any costs incurred on side excursions before or after the expedition are not included.


Earth River provides tents, food and a rafting gear for the trip. For a list of all additional gear you will need to bring for the expedition please see the gear list.


Generally, $350 will be adequate for airport transfers and guide tips. If you are planning a side excursion you will want to bring considerably more.


Gratuities for drivers, waiters, etc. are included in the trip price. Gratuities for the guides are not included. If you think the guides have done an outstanding job, 10 percent (approx. $330) of the expedition cost per person is considered a nice tip. Usually a member of the group will collect the tip and hand it to the trip leader (head guide) who will distribute it evenly among the guides.


During the river portion of the expedition participants will be sleeping in tents on beaches, in the woods or on smooth rock shelves. One night will be spent at the Hotel Chateau Arnaud Hotel at the trip’s conclusion.


You will be given a water proof river bag at the start of the trip for the river portion of the expedition. Because space and weight are limited on the float plane and rafts you will be allowed one bag, which cannot weigh over 22 pounds. In this bag you will need to fit your sleeping bag. You sleeping pad will be loaded into a separate community waterproof bag. Remember to please pack only what’s on the enclosed list and what will fit into the bag Earth River provides.

Note: Any extra clothing and gear can be safely stored at the Chateau Arnaud until the trip’s conclusion.


The Magpie is in Northeastern Quebec and although August is a mild month, the weather can vary from sunny in the low-eighties, to rainy in the sixties and even upper fifties. The nights are generally in the low fifties but can go into the high thirties. You will definitely get wet from running the rapids or possibly rain and although the river water is a relatively warm 68 degrees, all participants must have adequate paddle gear. You do not need a wet suit on the river.


There are no required shots or health precautions that you need to take when traveling in Canada with the exception of a current tetanus booster, which is a good idea for any international travel.


We carry a satellite phone and a helicopter can get someone to a modern hospital within two hours from anywhere on the river.


In case there is an emergency at home while you are away the following phone number should be given to a relative or friend: 845-626-2165 or 845-626-4361. The person should ask for Troy. In most cases they will be able to get important information to you when the guide checks in each day. Remember, these numbers should only be used in case of an emergency.

Release of liability and assumption of risk bc

I have been informed and am aware that ADVENTURE TRAVEL CAN BE DANGEROUS and includes many risks and dangers, including, but not limited to, the hazards of traveling by raft, by air, on foot or by other unconventional means, accident or illness in remote places without medical facilities, dangers of wild animals, forces of nature, acts of God, extreme weather conditions, physical exertion for which I may not be prepared, and evacuation difficulties, should I be injured or disabled. I have been informed and am aware of these and other inherent risks of the proposed trip and I accept them and acknowledge that the enjoyment of adventuring beyond normal safety of home and work is in part of the reason for my participation in this trip.

In full recognition, and in consideration of being granted a reservation and acceptance for my participation in an adventure vacation under the auspices of EARTH RIVER EXPEDITIONS, its agents, associates, assigns, employees, officers, licenses, and successors in interest (hereafter EARTH RIVER), I herby agree as follows:

I HEREBY RELEASE, WAIVE, INDEMNIFY and AGREE NOT TO SUE EARTH RIVER for all or any liability to me, my personal representatives, heirs, assigns and next of kin, for any and all loses, damages or injuries or any claim or demand on account of any injury to my person or property, or on account of my death resulting from any cause, except in the case of gross negligence by EARTH RIVER or others, while I an participating in an EARTH RIVER expedition. I further agree that I will assume the risk and release EARTH RIVER, except in the case of gross negligence, of all liability for any injury or damage to my body or property or my death due to any negligent failure to obtain or administer appropriate rescue operations in the event of injury or mishap, including failure to obtain adequate medical services, to evacuate or to supply treatment, medicine, or trained rescue personnel.

I FURTHER AGREE that if I am injured or become ill, EARTH RIVER may, at my cost, arrange or supply medical treatment, evacuation or any other emergency services on my behalf as EARTH RIVER deems necessary or appropriate for my safety and well being.

I EXPRESSLY ACKNOWLEDGE and AGREE that ADVENTURE TRAVEL, INCLUDING THE EARTH RIVER TRIP IN WHICH I AM PARTICIPATING CAN BE DANGEROUS and involves serious and unpredictable risks of bodily injury, property damage and death and that I intend the foregoing waiver and release of EARTH RIVER to be as broad and inclusive as permitted by law; that I am not relying on any oral or written representations of EARTH RIVER regarding safety, and that I am entering this agreement of my own free will.

I HAVE READ AND AGREE to the policy on cancellations and refunds as stated under General Information elsewhere in the Earth River Expeditions catalog. I am aware that should I choose not to purchase insurance coverage as put forth under the “insurance” subhead of General Information, I will be liable for all costs in the case of cancellation, trip delays, damage or loss of baggage and medical emergency howsoever caused.

I FURTHER AGREE that any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to my participation in an Earth River Expeditions trip and/or this Agreement, or the making, performance or interpretation thereof, shall be settled by binding arbitration in Kingston, New York in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association then existing, and judgment on the arbitration award may be entered in any court having jurisdiction over EARTH RIVER and the subject matter of the controversy.

I FURTHER AGREE that I will have no illegal drugs on my person in my possession when partaking in any part of any Earth River Expedition tour. I HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND ALL OF THE TERMS OF THIS RELEASE OF LIABILITY AND ASSUMPTION OF RISK AND AGREE TO IT OF MY OWN FREE WILL AND WITHOUT RESERVATIONS.

EXPEDITION: Futaleufu base camp" trip

_________________________________________ SIGNATURE DATE 


The following piece was excerpted from The winter edition of the Syracuse University Magazine 

Stephen Mahan (right), director of Syracuse University’s Photography and Literacy Project.

Giving voice to city school Children Helping students discover that voice through writing and imagery is Stephen Mahan’s mission. With digital cameras, journals, and a fierce sense of commitment to the students, he helps them learn storytelling techniques and media skills that trigger self-expression, building self-esteem as they explore their outside worlds and inner selves.

Mahan recognizes these students, he says, because he sees himself in them. He was hyperactive, constantly in trouble, and had difficulty paying attention and reading. Eventually, a passion for photography led him to an M.F.A. degree from the University at Buffalo, where he taught photography in a program for inner-city kids. The combination clicked. “I know a lot of these kids have the same difficulties I did,” he says. “If I can make one kid or any number of them feel they’re capable, intelligent, creative and have something substantial to add to the conversation in class, then it’s worth it.”

At Fowler High School in Syracuse, which has a 65% drop our rate, the highest in New York state, that challenge is regularly put to the test. The majority of students come from the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Like many urban schools, the school is underfunded, overcrowded and faces scrutiny for standardized testing performances. 40% of the students are African American and 25% hispanic. There are also children from Bhutan, Nepal, Sudan, Liberia, Vietnam, Iran and elsewhere. At last count, 21 languages were spoken in Fowler’s halls. In this tremendous clash of cultures, Mahan’s program gives students the ability to not only be comfortable sharing their deepest thoughts, but to appreciate others as well.

In the six years Mahan has been doing this, he has encountered his share of stark, honest writing that reflects the all-too-real lives of the students. One wrote about his father’s suicide, others about domestic abuse, street violence, teenage parenting, and homelessness. Most of these kids do not have an outlet for their emotions which causes turmoil. When given the opportunity, they have the ability to dazzle readers and viewers with their rawness and uncommon maturity.

Mahan measures the program’s success in helping the students realize the value of their words and imagery—that they have something to say. It is a way for them to discover they are important. “When the pictures are all laid out on the table, it is impossible to tell which kid has difficulties,” Mahan says, “and that’s what motivates me.”

Back to guides

Shaohong Personal Reflections


It was my first climb on Everest. As I left the last camp at 26,000 feet, to climb to the summit, I remembered the words of my climbing colleagues, “you will come across the dead bodies of many climbers on the way to the summit, it`s really frightening.” That part of the Everest experience isn’t talked much about outside the climbing circles.

Even though I was prepared, it was still a shock to come face to face with this frozen graveyard. If their faces had not been covered in snow, I would have thought they were sitting down taking a rest before climbing onwards. There was not much time to think. I had to reach the summit to complete my work, the first official measurement of Mount Everest in over three decades. As I pushed on, I passed more and more bodies, attempting to bury them beneath thoughts of reaching the summit.

At the third step, of the final pitch, I came across something I couldn’t bury. It was the body of a climber who had just died the day before. I knew him. We had spent the last few days together at camp, talking about climbing and our hopes of reaching the summit. The leader of his expedition had asked us to look out for him because he had not returned the day before. Even if he had still been alive, it would have been impossible to get him down from there.

A few hundred feet from the top, the wind became much stronger and I came to the cross roads many of the inhabitants of this “Dead Zone” had come to before me; continue with the dream or give up and return to camp. I stood there, hesitating for ten minutes before making that decision. I reached the summit, completed the measurement work for the government and made my way back to camp. That night, I thought about all the climbers who never made it off the mountain. I often wonder what makes us risk our lives to climb a mountain?

When I returned home to Chengdu and saw my young son, I said to myself, I will never go back to Mount Everest. But then, in 2008, when the government asked me to be the photographer for the Olympic Torch ascent of Everest, I agreed to go. I guess it’s in my blood – adventure for a lifetime.

Back to guides

National Geographic Adventure

“Earth River Expeditions, the whitewater-rafting company that pioneered the first raft descent of the Futaleufu in 1991, has and continues to put up a massive fight. They bought a large amount of land that the power company would have to purchase in order to build the dams and fought the construction of unsustainable development. In 2012, with the profits from their raft trips, they also founded a conservation organization, the Futaleufú Riverkeeper, to work on litigation, community outreach, and other conservation efforts full time. All profits from the trip go toward protecting the river.”

National Geographic Adventure Magazine, February 2013

Return to Earth River Ethic

Futa Friends Excerpt

Excepted From the Futa Friends web site,

“Education and conscientious action are key to stopping Didymo. FutaFriends is working with local government, tourism, and non-governmental groups to establish a Didymo Awareness and Education Program to reach the local and tourist communities. FutaFriends has the priviledge to work with scientist Dr. Bill Horvath and outfitter/guide Robert Currie who, motivated by their love for the Futaleufú and for Patagonia, are spearheading advocacy for Didymo action at local, regional, and national levels. Their primary focus is to spotlight the issue and to help grassroots efforts move forward. Dr. Bill Horvath, an analytical scientist from the USA, is advising the technical aspects of informational materials and educational presentations, with a special focus on the role river guides and tourism operators have in educating tourists about Didymo. Robert Currie is putting a spotlight on Didymo within government circles.”

Return to Earth River Ethic

Fondation Rivieres Letter

Fondation Rivierers Letter 

Montreal, June 27th 2005

M. Eric Hertz
Earth River Expeditions
180 Towpath Road
Accord, NY 1 2404

Subject: Sincere thanks

Mister Hertz,

We would like to thank you for your precious collaboration with the Rivers Foundation and want to express our gratitude with a letter.

We want to thank you especially for all your actions regarding the Magpie River. Your participation in preserving waterfalls and rapids is very important and effective. Ecotourism is an industry that allows the preservation of our natural resources while being financially beneficial. Its promotion is essential in helping people to discover the wonders and greatness of Quebec's rivers.

Also, we greatly appreciate your efforts to mobilize the financial resources that allowed the Magpie publicity to be published in the paper Le Devoir. We believe that reaching people and raising awareness is the key to saving our collective natural patrimony.

We hope our collaboration will continue for years to come.


Michel Gauthier

5834, rue Clark, MontnSal, H2T 2V7 T616phone : (514) 272-2666 T616copieur : (514) 274-0126

Return to Earth River Ethic

“Eric Hertz has devoted his life and his company’s resources to saving some of the world’s last great white-water, wilderness rivers.".
"Earth River is the premier river runner in the world. Their staff includes the finest guides to be found."
“Earth River is more than a great whitewater outfitter. Their contributions have made a real difference in our efforts to preserve some of the world's most beautiful rivers in Chile and Canada."
"I want to personally thank Earth River for helping us stop the hydro-electric projects on our land preventing the destruction of one of North America's last great wildernesses.
“I’ve rafted with Eric Hertz down some tough rivers—the Futaleufu in Chile, the Colca in Peru. He's one of the best in the business—obsessed with safety."
“Earth River runs the only continuous, top to bottom, multi-camp, wilderness expedition on the Futaleufu. A week without roads, electricity or cell phones.”
“I’ve been on nearly all the commercially run rivers in the world and Earth River and the Futaleufu stand out as the very best of the best.”—Fred Wiedemann, Co-founder
"Earth River is the premier river runner in the world. Their staff includes the finest guides to be found."
“Earth River’s conservation effort on the Futaleufu is Herculean and represents the single largest river land trust endeavor ever initiated by a commercial outfitter."—Ronald Dodson, Pres."
"I want to personally thank Earth River for helping us stop the hydro-electric projects on our land preventing the destruction of one of North America's last great wildernesses.
“Earth River’s Futaleufu trip is an astonishment. The amazing camps, all different from one another, but all surprisingly and ingeniously comfortable”—David Rakoff
"I want to personally thank Earth River for helping us stop the hydro-electric projects on our land preventing the destruction of one of North America's last great wildernesses.
DMC Firewall is developed by Dean Marshall Consultancy Ltd