In December of 2015 Matthew Beauchamp, Steve Krajewski, Shannon Goshorn, and I headed to the island of Hispaniola to check out the rivers of the Dominican Republic. Although the island was experiencing a pattern of dry weather, we still found options to paddle daily and enjoyed a great time in this lesser known paddling destination. If you missed the previous two parts of our trip report, you can find Part I: Rio Yaque del Norte HERE and Part II: Rio Blanco HERE.
Below: Scouting a drop that turned out to be a no-go due to a boulder in the landing zone. Photo by Adam Goshorn.
The Rio Jimenoa comes out of the rugged mountain southeast of the town of Jarabacoa in the Dominican Republic. It cuts an amazingly steep canyon and is know best locally for its two largest waterfalls, which are tourist attractions. Higher in the watershed, upstream of those more well-known waterfalls, are two high quality sections of whitewater, known simply as the Upper and the Staircase sections. Although they can be run in a single, extremely long day, it is more practical to attempt them separately, which is what we did.
Below: Looking downstream into one of the tighter sections. Photo by Adam Goshorn.
The put-in for the Upper Jimenoa is near the confluence with Arroyo Frio. The run starts of with a few small rapids, but soon starts to build in intensity. Due to dry conditions during our trip we had what we considered to be a minimum water level for this section, which resulted in portaging some rapids that are almost certainly runnable at higher water. Almost all of the rest of the rapids would have been improved with higher flow as well, making this section perhaps a better alternative when the Staircase Section is a bit high. However, we made the most of the water level we had and made steady downstream progress, enjoying the beauty of the river and surrounding countryside all day.
Below: Steve Krajewski launching a big boof of the best drop. Photo by Adam Gshorn.
The climax of the Upper Rio Jimenoa is a big drop where a house-sized boulder pinches the river against a huge exposed bedrock shelf on river right. Running the drop requires negotiating a somewhat tricky entrance rapid (which you can see me royally mess up in the video) and then rounding the boulder and off a huge kicker into the pool below. After seeing Steve and Matt have great lines, it was my turn to give this beast a try. Unfortunately, I entered much too slowly and the result was pitoning off the entrance drop and pogoing back into a nasty little alcove. Fortunately, I was able to claw my way upright, get back in to the flow, and run the bigger part of the drop in relative control; although having lost all my speed, I fell off the side of the kicker instead of getting the big boof the other guys achieved.
Below: Video from our run down the Upper Section of the Rio Jimenoa. It doesn’t include all the rapids, but the ones it does include are shown in order. Edited by Adam Goshorn.
Be sure to check back for Dominican Republic - Part IV, which will include pictures and video from the Staircase Section of the Rio Jimenoa!
Until next time…