Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mexico Part 3: The Tomatas

Coming to the end of our trip we decided to focus our efforts on running the Tomatas on the Rio Alseseca. On the first day, Iker, my brother and I all fired up 65ft. First Tomata. Iker went first and had a super clean line. Despite Iker cleaning it, I was a still intimidated by the stairstep style of First Tomata. When I paddled off the lip I thought everything was going well, but as soon as I tucked I felt myself go sideways, and when I hit with a powerful angle my skirt imploded making for a 'not-so-clean' line. My brother was next and styled the drop with steez. A few hundred feet downstream we arrived at the take out directly above Second Tomata. The take-out wasn't easy but after a while we had our boats back up to the road. As we were hauling our boats up we all spent some time scouting Second Tomata, a seldom run a 60-70ft. waterfall with a very narrow and technical lead in rapid. After analyzing the drop Iker and I decided that if we were feeling good the next day, we'd both fire it up.

Scouting First Tomata

My 'not-so-clean' line the first day

We woke up the next morning, spirits high, and drove back to the Tomatas. I wanted to redeam myself from the previous day so I joined Nate and Heather on First Tomata. I had a better line than the previous day and this time paddled out from the bottom. Nate and Heather went next and unfortunately both had imploded skirts. Before I knew it I was standing at the lip of Second Tomata with Iker ready to paddle one of the most technical and consequential drops I'd ever seen. Iker went first. He dropped into the entrance rapid, maintained good speed and angle until he hit one of the final waves which pushed him sideways and flipped him over. Iker rolled up just feet before the lip and slid backwards off the waterfall. Luckily he resurfaced at the bottom un-scathed. I was much more nervous after watching Iker's line, but I was still confident that I could safely paddle the drop. As I paddled through the entrance rapid, I was able to maintain forward momentum and keep my nose strait. At the lip I took a few adjustment strokes then fell into the boily pools below. Running Second Tomata clean, for possibly the first time, was the perfect ending to an amazing kayaking trip in one of the most beautiful parts of Mexico.

Firing Off Second Tomata

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mexico Part 2: Rio Alseseca

Because Nate's foot still wasn't a 100% Iker, my brother and I spent the day after his injury paddling the Big Banana section of the Rio Alseseca. This section of whitewater was one of the best I had ever paddled and rates up there with the Little White. After a half mile hike down a lifestock trail we bounced our way down a manky creek and finaly arrived at Big Banana. Big Banana is an awing 100ft. waterfall that cascades out of the side of a mountain and marks the start of the run. After paddling through a couple manky boulder gardens we dropped into the first canyon. Right off the bat we followed Iker off a clean 25ft. waterfall and then strait into a fast 30ft. slide, each drop bringing us deeper into the canyon. Eventually the canyon walls were so tight that the river was about a boat length wide and no sunlight could reach the water. In and out of more similar canyons we paddled more class IV and V rapids until about halfway through the run we came up to a 45 footer. We spent a long time contemplating this drop, but the rapid above the drop and caves below were enough to turn us all away. We decided instead to throw and go off the 50ft. cliff below the drop. After this we paddled more class IV and V drops, including Meat Locker a fun double drop, until we reached the the take-out.

Throw n' go

Brendan on Meat Locker

Another drop on the Big Banana

The next morning, after a night of heavy rain, we woke up to high water levels. We knew this would be perfect for Truchas falls, a 60 footer on the Rio Alseseca that we had scouted a few days earlier. The difficulty in this waterfall wasn't so much running it, but rather getting to it. We spent a good three hours macheteing through thick jungle until we reached the cliff walls above Truchas. We then spent another hour repelling beside a huge waterfall 90 feet down to the river. Once we were all down at the river bank with our boats we portaged a manky slide and finally prepared to run the waterfall. Iker was first to paddle the 25ft. slide-to-boof that led directly into the 60ft. freefall. He had a sick line, and my brother and I were quick to run it after him. Truchas was a super fun drop especially at such high flows, and getting to the drop was equally exciting.

Scouting Truchas before the rain...
...And again after the rain

Photos by Sheer Madness Productions

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mexico Part 1: Opening Days

International travel and whitewater kayaking are possibly the two most important aspects of my life, but until this trip I had never combined the two. Over our extended Thanksgiving vacation my brother and I joined Iker Dusen and Nate and Heather Herbeck for a kayaking vacation in Mexico. Upon arrival in Tlapacoyan, Mexico my brother and I met Iker, but found that Nate and Heather were paddling the Filobobos, a nearby class III-IV river. After some tacos and later realizing that it was getting dark the three of us met up with our driver Israel and drove to the take-out. We hiked as far as we safely could up the river, about three kilometers, with no sign of Nate or Heather. Unsuccessful, we drove back to Tlapacoyan to get some rest. Early the next morning Iker my brother and I put in on the Fliobobos to look for Nate and Heather. Again we were unsuccessful and went back to Tlapacoyan to form further plans. Luckily when we arrived in Tlapacoyan we found Israel, Nate and Heather alive and well. Hearing their story we found Nate and Heather took out in a small town halfway down the run because it was too dark. Apparently Nate and Heather had met a very kind family that housed, fed, and even clothed them for the night.

Our team and our truck

The next day our team went on a park n' huck mission. Our first stop was at a 30ft. waterfall on the Jalacingo River. With easy access we ran this clean drop each about four times before packing up and moving on.

Boofin a 30 footer on the Jalacingo
Our next stop was at San Pedro, a recently discovered 50ft. waterfall that had only been run by one team. A fast and narrow slide didn't allow for many strokes before the lip, but launched each of us through the air and into the pool below.

Paddle toss and tuck on San Pedro
After we all fired off San Pedro we had a quick, but action packed paddle to the take-out. The rapids between San Pedro and the take-out were all a little manky and we only ran a few of them, but as we learned the portages weren't much better. On one portage Nate seal launched in and pitoned his boat, injuring both of his ankles. As we were close to the take-out we decided to continue on. Nate had a tough time on the portages but we were able to get him safely to the take out and home to heal for a while. Our first few days in Mexico were sick and the rest of the trip only gets better...