Below: Matt Beauchamp on the El Salto Section of the Rio Valles, photo by Adam Goshorn
We had been enjoying our time in Veracruz (see Mexico 2013 Part III HERE), but water levels continued to be too high for many of runs we would have been paddling in a normal year. There were a few paddlers around who had done some recent, high-water descents on some of the other sections of the Rio Alseseca. However, the idea of going into the steeper and deeper canyons of the Rio Alseseca or those of the Rio Jalacingo at such high levels was unappealing to me... especially after getting beat down on our high-water day on the Roadside Section, which is easier and the proximity of the road provides an escape route. We only had a few more days in Mexico before we had to head home anyway, so we decided to head back to San Luis Potosi immediately, which would allow us a couple more days of boating in that region before the long drive home. The drive back to San Luis Potosi from Veracruz was significantly faster than the drive down and we were able to set up camp at Aldea Huesteca with enough time to go into town for dinner.
Below: Matt Beauchamp running a juicy rapid in the 4th canyon of the Rio Santa Maria, photos by Adam Goshorn
When we arrived back at the campground that night, we heard that our friend Julian Schafer had been asking about us. Julian is a German paddler who Matt and I had met in Veracruz during our trip the previous year. In 2012, Julian had quickly become friends with our whole group and ended up paddling with us almost every day our of two-week stay at Aventurec. This year, he had been living in Cd. Valles and working as a raft guide, but due to a shoulder injury (on the Rio Minas Viejas) was now recovering rather than padding. We were able to get in touch with him that night and Julian and his girlfriend Karenn ended up coming along with us the following day to run shuttle with Shannon while Matt, Evan, and I paddled the classic 3rd and 4th canyons of the Rio Santa Maria. The watershed of the Rio Santa Maria is amazing! There are fifteen known whitewater sections on eight different rivers, all part of the same watershed. The Rio Santa Maria itself has five distinct canyons that contain beautiful turquoise water and class III-V rapids. As usual, the Rio Santa Maria did not disappoint us and Matt, Evan, and I had an awesome day making our way through the 3rd and 4th canyons at a healthy flow, eventually reaching the take-out at the base of Cascada de Tamul. Cascada de Tamul is a 250-foot waterfall created by the Rio Gallines plunging into the narrow canyon of the Rio Santa Maria. I’ve been told that at very low flows it is possible to paddle through the falls at the confluence., but most of the time it is impossible. So, groups take-out at the base of falls, climb ladders in a steep gully near the falls, and hike upstream to a small parking area at the end of a long dirt road… not the easiest take-out. Shannon, Julian and Karenn had hiked in to the base of the falls to meet us and after hanging out for a bit (and the mandatory photo op) we all hiked out with one thing at the forefront of our mind… finding dinner!
Below: Shannon Goshorn at the base of Cascada de Tamul, photo by Matt Beauchamp
The day after we paddled the Rio Santa Maria, we broke down our camp and drove about an hour north to paddle the El Salto section of the Rio Valles. The El Salto section starts just downstream of a powerhouse and therefore almost always has boatable flows, making it an ideal run to get on when other things in the area are getting low (although its even better at high water!). The three- mile run starts out in a man-made channel which is the outflow of the power plant. This channel creates a quarter-mile section of fast continuous water that leads into a couple of strong holes as it re-enters the natural streambed at a rapid called El Nemo. The rest of the run is an endless number of travertine ledges ranging from five to twenty feet. The run goes quickly, so we made two laps and then checked into the resort at the take-out. Wanting to have real beds for our final night, we were willing to spend a bit more for the nicer accommodations, hoping that a good night’s sleep would prepare us for the long drive home the following day. However, I couldn’t help thinking about how a single night at this resort cost almost as much as our five-night stay at Aventurec (what a bargain). The next morning we packed everything into the truck, ate a delicious breakfast at the resort, and our 27-hour drive back to Alabama was underway. The drive is never fun, but we completed it without a hitch, arriving home exhausted and completely satisfied with another successful adventure south of the border.
Below: Evan Alfano on the El Salto Section of the Rio Valles, photo by Adam Goshorn
Below: Here is the video I edited from our trip. It is not in chronological order and is not sorted by river either. It’s just a sampling of everything from the whole trip, mixed together for variety. Be sure to stay tuned after the credits for a bit of carnage too! Enjoy!
Until Next Time…