Friday, December 15, 2006

Return to Mexico, Part V: Rest day on the Micos

The day after the Santa Maria we decided to spend a restful morning around camp.
Following breakfast John shuttled Dustin, Shannon and I up to put in for another fun run on the Cascadas Micos.

After dinner in the evening we returned to camp to enjoy the fire and decide what the next day will bring.
Until next time...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Return to Mexico, Part IV: Rio Santa Maria

The Rio Santa Maria has several boatable sections, but the best whitewater is contained in the third and forth canyons. This section of river can be described best in three sections. The third canyon is four miles of mostly class III with one class IV+ rapid (that has been blocked by a large root ball for years), between the canyons is about four miles of moving water class I, and the fourth canyon consist of 5 miles of class IV with a couple of class V rapids thrown in the mix. Upon reaching the take out at the base of Cascada De Tamul, paddlers must climb a series of ladders to reach the top of the falls and then hike quite a ways upstream to a dead end road.

There are several "off river" logistical considerations to take into account when running the Santa Maria. First, you need an early start; it's a long run with a long take out. We woke up at 4:45, ate breakfast at 5:00 and were leaving our campsite before 6:00. This seems the perfect timing to give us plenty of time on the river so we didn't have to rush to not get caught out in the dark. Second, you need a shuttle driver. The shuttle is ungodly long on brutal roads and takes several hours one way. Our shuttle was easy this year because Shannon had decided not to paddle the Santa Maria and was able to drive shuttle for us.

Here is Dustin at the put in.

The action starts off slow in the third canyon as the walls rise.

Here are John and Dustin finishing up the portage of Funnel in the third canyon. Apparently this rapid has been blocked by a large root ball for many years.
Finishing portage number two around Triple Drop at the beginning of the forth canyon.

This is the last drop of a long rapid in the forth canyon. We ran the first two thirds together before I hopped out on a boulder to get out the camera.

This large warm spring emerged from the river left cliff and flowed into the Santa Maria. John and I scouted for a while because we wanted to run the rapid in its outflow, but eventually decided against it.
Upon reaching the end paddlers are treated to one of the most special places I have ever been... Cascade De Tamul

All too soon the joy of taking in Cascada De Tamul is replaced with the work of making our way out of the canyon up a series of sketchy ladders.

The Rio Santa Maria is a ultra classic run that should be on every Mexico paddler's list. The rapids are fun and the scenery is amazing. After climbing the ladders and hiking out to the road we discovered that Shannon was nowhere to be found. After pondering this for a few minutes we also notice there were not the normal amount of tire tracks and ruts that one would expect on the road to the areas most popular waterfall. As it turned out Shannon had gotten stuck while attempting to reach the takeout. Luckily a group of boaters from the US showed up and pulled her out. She waited for us with the truck about a half mile up the road where we hiked to and found her. All's well that ends well.
Until next time...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Return to Mexico, Part III: El Salto

The El Salto (the waterfall) section of the Rio Valles is about an hour north and slightly west of the Cascadas Micos run where we were camped. On our way to the river we passed several parades in the streets and preformances outside schools in the villages we drove through. As we neared our distanation we were caught in stopped traffic for a very large parade in the town of Naranjo that lasted over an hour. Everyone around us was abandoning there cars and watching the parade, so we followed suit. Through attempted conversations with locals in broken spanish we learned that we were observing celebrations for one of Mexico's most important holidays. The Aniversery of the Mexican Revolution is a celebration akin to our own Independence Day here in the US. This year celebrates th 96th aniversery.

Eventually we were about to return to the truck and complete our journey to El Salto. After a short drive we reached the takeout.

We unloaded our gear at the put in and John proceeded to bike the shuttle in quick order. Upon his return we climbed down the bank to the put in which begins several hundred yards of super fast boogie water that leads to the first big hole.

Below the first big hole is a constricted rapid that boost an even biger hole. However, the second hole can be avoided by driving up on the river left boulder and launching over it.

The main even of any run of El Salto is running La Luminosa. La Luminosa is a super fun drop with an interesting move that requires a sweeping turn before dropping off a sloped diagnal lip. You can boof it, plug it, or anything inbetween.

Prior to this trip Shannon had very little waterfall experience. She spent the first day on the Micos practicing her tuck and upon reaching La Luminosa she had a great line.

Below La Luminosa El Salto continues for a while with numerous smaller ledges and travertine rapids before reaching a drop we call "the spout". The line is actually a sneak to a larger, nastier drop, but is a fun move in itself. After padlding through some trees you launch 12+ feet into the strong cross current below.

After the spout are two fun boofs about 6 feet tall. The first one had a dramatic change during our time there, but more on that later.

On our drive home we went in search of another falls/river that were unknown to us, but what we found instead was the only mean Mexican local we encountered during our trip.

Back at the campsite it was time for a trip into town in search of Internet access and another feast.

Until next time...