Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mexico 2012 Part IV: The Upper Jalacingo

If you’re wondering if there are still new rivers out there waiting to be discovered, consider the fact that paddlers only started exploring sections of the Rio Jalacingo in 2008 and a full top to bottom descent wasn’t done until 2010.  This is even more telling when you consider that the Jalacingo flows into the popular Pezma Section of the Rio Alseseca, a short distance upstream of the famous Cascada Tomata.  Despite the Rio Jalacingo hiding in plain site, like a lot of runs in Mexico, it was the lack of access that kept it unknown for so long.  Unlike the Rio Alseseca there are no major roads crisscrossing the Rio Jalacingo and figuring out access points in rural Mexico is no easy task. 
Blow: Matt Beauchamp boofing into the heart of the canyon, photo by Adam Goshorn

By the time we had a chance to run it in late 2012 the necessary access points were all known… just not by us.  Once again Julian was the only one in our group who had done the run before, but only once and he had ridden there with others and wasn’t entirely sure of the route.  Never the less, he figured out the logistics with a combination of what he remembered, a few notes from Vicente at Aventurec, and asking a few helpful locals along the way.  As is typical in Mexico it took us several wrong turns to eventually find the correct turns to find put-in and take-out. 

Blow: Matt Beauchamp on the entrance slide into the last drop, photos by Adam Goshorn

At the put-in, the Upper Rio Jalacingo is a small creek that is about 20 feet wide and looks way to low to possibly be a quality kayaking run.  Throughout the day this would prove to be the nature of some sections of the creek.  The width of the creek varies greatly and in wider spots paddlers are scooting over almost dry rocks, while in other places very narrow basalt canyons channelize the water so well that there are actually a number of strong holes to watch out for.  We all agreed that if the water was high enough that the widest spots had a nice boatable flow, the canyon sections would be out of control.  The canyon sections were the main attraction of the run anyway, so wheelchairing through the wider spots is simply the price of admission to the magical basalt underworld that is the Upper Rio Jalacingo. 

Below: Deep in the Upper Jalacingo, photo by Matt Beauchamp

In addition to the awesome canyon sections and wider sections that require a bit of wheelchairing, there are also a number of mandatory portages, some of which would be disastrous to accidently attempt.  Impressively, Julian remembered all of the portages and made sure we all caught the right eddies for the appropriate exit points above each.  Other highlights of the run include a sweet 20-footer into a box canyon.  It probably already has a name, but we jokingly referred to it as Little Silenco, due to its similarities to the much larger and much more dangerous drop on the nearby Rio Alseseca.

Below: Julian running the 20-footer, photo by Matt Beauchamp
Below: Christine running the 20-footer, photo by Adam Goshorn

The last drop of the run was a huge, twisting slide sequence into a 20-footer.  Most of the group gave it a go, but a couple of us decided to bypass it and begin the hike out.  It is probably the only drop of the whole trip I regret not running.  At the time I was tired from a long day and just didn’t feel like taking the possible hit from going oververt and landing on my head.  However, sitting back at home, I find myself thinking a lot about that final drop.  It is certainly one of the most unique and awesome sequences I’ve seen anywhere.  Sitting here, I do feel the twinge of regret in not giving it a go, but that is the great thing about paddling.  There is always next time and that drop will be there waiting.

Below: Ben entering the final sequence, photo by Matt Beauchamp

Below: Wade on the final sequence, photo by Adam Goshorn

Below: Mikkel finishing the final sequence, photo by Matt Beauchamp

In retrospect, the Upper Rio Jalacingo turned out to be my favorite day of the entire trip.  It was simply such an exceptional run, with unique drops, and a distinctive character that is all its own.  I can’t think of another run that is very much like it and I think it is that uniqueness is what made it feel so fresh and new to me.  It is certainly what some would describe as a “work run” and that can be a turnoff for some people.  Those who prefer bombing down roadside runs without having to scout or portage should probally just stick to the Roadside Alseseca.  However, those who are willing to work are rewarded with passage through some of the most impressive basalt canyons anywhere.   

Until Next Time,


If you missed the other installments of this trip report, you can find Part I HERE, Part II HERE, and Part III HERE.

Below: Adam in the early stuff, photo by Matt Beauchamp

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