Published on June 24th, 2015 | by Kayak Session

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The Juan and Only, a Tribute to Juan Antonio de Ugarte

Peruvian paddler, Juan Antonio de Ugarte passed away while creeking last winter in Chile. For those that were fortunate to cross his path, his passing was a more than a shock, as Juanito was for many the nicest guy ever – the smiling hero. Here is a wonderful tribute edited by Evan Garcia in memory of – The Juan and Only  – filmed a few weeks before the accident.

Juan de Ugarte was born in the village of Urubamba, Peru in October of 1980. Growing up a rafter/kayaker he absorbed his river lifestyle from His father Tony. Juan was a « Lifer ». I met him in Futaleufu January of 2006 when I was just 16 years old. Already a talented kayaker and much wiser than me, Juan took me under his wing and treated me as one of his own. For the next 10 years of my life I would run into Juanito all over the world, until we started to plan trips together. Juan always told me « Si quieres ser hombre, vente a remar en Peru » (If you want to be a man, come paddle in Peru) – He was right!

He taught me an uncountable number of valuable lessons, but one thing that always stuck out in my mind was how much he loved life. His life was kayaking, his work, kayaking, his love, kayaking. It was inspirational to see someone a decade older than me paddle the same rapids and share the some passion with a bigger smile on his face.

This video documents some of the last precious moments of Juan’s life. He passed away 10 days later in Chile on the next leg of our South American paddling trip. I’m glad that I got the chance to spend the time I did with Tio Juan and I’m excited to share some of his impeccable character with our community through this video.

May your soul forever float the rivers you loved so dearly. See you someday out there on the next horizon hermano.

-Evan Garcia

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