Monday, February 8, 2010


Anyone who has been to Mexico or any other foreign country knows the joys and difficulties of traveling in foreign lands. While traveling in Mexico over thanksgiving break with my brother, Todd Wells, Nate and Heather Herbeck and Iker Dusen, a local to the area I got to spend eight solid days paddling in the Veracruz area of Mexico. Here's the highlights of the trip.
The solid crew of Iker, Heather, myself, Todd and Nate who was taking the picture

On November 21st 2009 my brother and I flew to Veracruz, MX and quickly found a bus that would take us to the small city of Tlapacoyan, MX. With nearly missing our bus stop and driving almost four hours out of our way, we found our way to the town that we would be staying in and Iker met my brother and I at the bus station. After getting off of the bus with our two fully loaded kayaks, we got a ride with the local police in their truck (no taxis could fit our kayaks) to the small house that we would be staying at. As soon as we arrived the sun was starting to set and we realized that Nate and Heather weren’t back from their afternoon run, so we were starting to get worried. Our first adventure began just a little later as we hiked about 3 kilometers up the Filobobos River to look for the two with no success, although hiking through the banana plantations and tangerine trees was a great dessert. The next morning we woke up early to do a quick run down the Filibobobos, but still no sign of them on the river or the take out. At this point we were starting to get pretty worried about what could have happened to them. Later that day they showed up back at the house and were in good health. It turns out that they took out earlier in the run and found a place to stay, then made their way back to Tlapacoyan.
A typical street in Tlapacoyan

The next day the crew went to a close by park n’ huck on the Jalacingo River. The super clean 30ft. waterfall was just off the road and had easy access for everyone to do a few laps on it.
The fun 30 footer
Paddle Toss

Our next park n’ huck was a 50 footer that had only been run by one previous group. This drop consisted of a long, narrow lead in, but set you up with a perfect angle to plunge into the pool below.
Goin' with the paddle toss again down the 50 footer

The run out wasn’t the most fun but there were a few fun rapids and the first fifty footer made anything below totally worth it. On one seal launch on the run out below, Nate petoned and hurt both ankles pretty badly but was able to make it down the rest of the run. Our first few days in Mexico were amazing and the trip wasn’t close to being finished.
The following day Iker, my brother and I headed to the Rio Alseseca because Nate’s foot still wasn’t 100% so the hike in would have been pretty tough. We paddled the Big Banana section of the Alseseca and it turned out to be one of my favorite runs that I have ever paddled in my life, up there with the Little White Salmon River of Washington. To get to the run, you must hike down into the valley on a livestock trail, paddle a super low volume, manky creek, then hike some more to end up at the bottom of Big Banana. Big Banana is a beautiful 100ft. waterfall that comes out of a narrow canyon. After admiring the beautiful waterfall, we made our way down the run which consists of tons of clean drops and rapids. After a few warm up rapids my brother and I followed Iker over a clean 25 footer, into a big pool, then directly into a super fun 30ft. slide. Around every corner the tall and narrow canyon offered more fun rapids and drops. In some places the canyon was barely a boat width wide and almost no sun light made it to the water. Between the many class four and five rapids there was a sweet 45 footer that we scouted for a while but then decided to throw n’ go off the 50ft. cliff because the walls just after the drop looked a little sketchy. After paddling Meat Locker and many other drops we made it safely to the take out and back home to enjoy the local tacos.
Myself below "Big Banana"

Me running "Meat Locker"

That night it rained a ton and we knew that something special would be running. We decided to make our way to Cascada Trouchas, a waterfall that we scouted a few days earlier. The first part of the hike to the waterfall wasn’t too bad until we had to machete a trail straight through the thick primary jungle. We finally made it to the canyon where we could look over and see the lip of the 60ft. waterfall. After our three hours of making our way through the jungle, we spent another hour setting up and getting everyone down to the bottom of the 90ft. rappel which put us at the top of the drop. After everyone was down we portaged the first manky slide then scouted the drop. The little slide that is just before the 60ft. waterfall turned into a rolling 25ft. sliding drop that you didn’t want to miss your boof off. Iker paddled over the 25ft. sliding drop, then over the 60 footer just after it. My brother went after Iker, both with sick lines I fired up drop next. I was pretty nervous about the 25 footer because if I screwed up on that I would be in a very bad position, but I was confident I could style both drops so I got in my Nomad and fired it up. Both drops went just as planned, and at the bottom of the 60 footer I lost my paddle on impact but did a quick hand roll up and was stoked on both drops. The high flows made both drops super fun and the hike in was challenging, but fun too.
Scouting Trouchas the day before the big rain

Trouchas after the rain

Having heard a ton of great stories about the Tomatas on the Rio Alseseca, the whole group was keen on firing up at least one of the two drops. The first day Iker, my brother and I all ran First Tomata which is about a 65ft. drop with a clean left line. Iker ran the drop first with a sick line, then my brother ran the drop just after him. Todd didn’t have the best line, going a little sideways on the way down, but I was still fired up to run the drop. I had an almost perfect line, but towards the end I over rotated a tiny bit, but still penciled in with a good angle and came up with everything intact which I was really excited about. We paddled down the next couple hundred feet to the top of Second Tomata to hike back up to the car and scout Second Tomata. The portage wasn’t the easiest but we made it to the car and everyone was fired up about making it safely over the drop. Second Tomata is a stout drop that only a few people have ever run. The drop consists of a narrow lead in that has a ton of water going thorough it which creates huge boils. After the crazy lead in, the drop goes straight into a 60ish foot waterfall. The next morning we woke up with a mission to go back to the Tomatas. Nate, Heather, and my brother all fired up First Tomata before going down to Second Tomata. My brother ran the drop first to try redeem himself after going sideways the previous day but ended up going down sideways again and ending with another imploded skirt. Nate’s skirt also imploded after he boofed the 65ft waterfall but came up safely and in good spirits. Followed by Nate was Heather, who had a good line off the drop, over rotating just a little. Everyone then made their way down to second Tomata. I wasn’t feeling up to running the drop that day, but was glad to know what it looks like and come back to run the drop another time soon. Iker fired up the drop first and after watching him flip over on a big boil just above the 60ft. sliding waterfall, I was pretty nervous for my brother. Todd ended up styling the entire drop with sick moves over every boil and both came out stoked about the drop and uninjured. Watching my brother style Second Tomata was a great end to the trip and I’m stoked to run the drop myself next time we’re paddling in Mexico.
A great picture of my brother on First Tomata

My brother running Second Tomata