Monday, April 20, 2009

The Rio Verde

Nearing the end of our third week in Mexico, our crew that once surged as strong as seven, was down to a mere three. Our second shuttle vehicle had also departed to head back north of the border so the three of us that remained were relegated to shuttling on Jordan’s single speed mountain bike.

By the end of our trip, our crew would ended up having completed 12 out of the 15 known runs on the 8 rivers in the watershed of the Rio Santa Maria. However, at the moment our shuttle situation seemed like it was going to destine us to spend the rest of our trip doing laps on the Cascadas Micos and El Salto sections of the Rio Valles. Perhaps we would muster up the will to abuse ourselves by biking the longer more challenging shuttles on the Rio Frio or Rio Minas Viejas, but their water levels were low, making those options even less likely. While the sections of the Rio Valles are very fun and a great consolation prize, all the highest quality runs in the area really require a second vehicle.

Just in time, two opportunities arose for us to get on two sections of the Rio Verde, one of the best rivers in the area. First, we were able to talk our friend Polo into taking a day of work to join us to run the First Canyon of the Rio Verde. We had an awesome run and were even able to find the alternate takeout at La Chaca which eliminates most of the flat water at the end of the run (a big thanks to Grant for the tip on the take-out!).

Upper Rio Verde from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.

The previous day we had run into my friend George Marquez and his son Jaistemay on the Rio Valles. George is a doctor in Cuidad Valles and I first met him and his son Jaistemay in 2005 when they were just learning to kayak. I have seen them on each of my trips since and both have fallen in love with kayaking and progressed every year. Jaistemay especially has become a very solid creeker and he was hoping to get on something new. Jaistemay had been hoping to get to run the Second Canyon of the Rio Verde for quite some time. Two of their friends from Canada and one from Texas were with them and they all wanted to go three days later. They knew that we were familiar with the run and invited us to join them and George offered to come along and run shuttle (icing on the cake)!

The day arrived and they met us at our campsite early in the morning to begin the drive to the Rio Verde. Along the way and throughout the day as we got to know each other it occurred to me just how kayaking brings so many people together. Our backgrounds were as varied as possible, yet here we were enjoying each other’s company on a beautiful river in a remote section of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Our now combined crew now consisted of Jordan Sherman from Alabama, Leigh Knudsen from the D.C. area, George & Jaistemay from Valles Mexico, the two French Canadians Simon & Simon, Ralph from Texas, and myself (Adam Goshorn) from Virginia. What a crew!

As we geared up at the put-in Ralph began to tell us how he had recently been laid off from his job. With that development he had just decided to head to Mexico for the winter to do some raft guiding and live on the cheap. Today he would be paddling with a creekboat and gear he borrowed from George, which initially made me a little nervous (who doesn’t bring their creekboat with them to Mexico?), but once we were on the river it was clear that Ralph was an experienced paddler and would have no problems with the Rio Verde.

Simon and Simon were fire fighters in Canada and apparently very experienced, big water playboaters. They had a couple months off of work for the winter, so they bought creekboats and drove to Mexico to learn to creek (highly motivated!). Both skilled paddlers, this would be the second or third creek they had ever paddled and they were excited, to say the least.

Our crew had done this run previously on our trip and I had run it the previous year as well so the lines were fresh in our mind. Knowing what was ahead allowed us to move the group quickly through most of the run, only stopping to scout a couple of rapids and of course the main event, Puerta Del Salto.

Puerta Del Salto is a big drop of somewhere around 35-40 feet with an entrance rapid that involves punching a hole right at the lip of the drop. After scouting, Jordan, Ralph, Jone of the Simons, Jaistemay, and I all ran it. Simon and Jaistemay both broke their paddles, which persuaded the other Simon to join Leigh on the ‘throw and go’ portage.

After the big one we continued downstream with Simon using my breakdown paddle and Jaistemay making due with a stick inserted into the shaft of his paddle and some tape holding it together. Luckily the hardest part of the canyon was behind us and we finished out the run in about an hour to find George waiting for us at the take-out, where he invited all of us to his house for dessert that evening. Everyone accepted his invitation and later that evening met the rest of the Marquez family as we enjoyed dessert and reviewed the pictures and video from the day.

Middle Verde from Adam Goshorn on Vimeo.

Until Next Time...


kayak session

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