Mexico: Ten Weeks of Tacos, Tequila and Waterfalls: Part 5
Back in Tlapacoyan, just a few days before New Year, we were joined by two new paddlers. Canadians Joel Kowalski and Blake Mahoney. There was a loose plan to run this river (The Lower Jalacingo) a few weeks before, but after hours of research we could not find any information, save that there was some tall, technical drops. A huge portage which had sent members of another group to the hospital somewhere along the way. But no idea on the put ins, takeouts of any other information. Luckily Joel had been involved in the first descent and new the run well.
In my opinion the word ‘Stout‘ is overused in kayaking at the moment. Currently the word is used for the small drops, big drops, technical drops, simple drops, drops with consequences, drops without consequences. I feel this word should be reserved for use on drops or rapids which are both technically difficult and have serious consequences. Twisted pleasure, the first big waterfall on the Lower Jalacingo (just 150m from the put-in) is certainly a stout drop. It has an S-bend of a lead in, 60ft of freefall into a narrow landing zone with big rocks either side. Standing on the bank scouting everyone was was nervous. Luckily Joel was fired up to go first. Although the drop looked tricky I was fired up and was sure that once I had seen Joel do it I would be next. Four feet above the lip Joel was some how parallel to the lip, just managing to bow draw his boat back on line in the nick of time. Although his deck imploded he managed to paddle it out with no problems. The mood at the top where Blake, Will, Todd and I were standing took an abrupt turn. We collectively went from fired up to very nervous. Blake was undeterred and after little more scouting fired it up. Somehow he ended up with a new dent in the front of his boat, but did have a much more stylish lead in. I decided it was now or never so scouted one last time, went to my boat and got ready. I was aiming to ’45‘ it to ensure not hitting the bottom but I ended doing something more like a boof. I styled the landing and was super stoked, possibly the most stoked I have been in Mexico.
The next drop is ‘Dirty Sanchez’ a filthy 40ft which was practically impossible to see from above. Whilst scouting I fell over found myself with the what felt like a chipped tail bone (later turned out to be a bruised tail bone). The rest of the run was amazing but I really couldn’t enjoy it because I was really struggling to sit down. The overcast day was fading fast by the time we got to the portage and once we had finished portaging it was dark. Joel told us there was still a few kilometres of manky, rocky grade two to go. In the pitch black this was terrifying. With multiple pins and a few close calls with fallen tress we finally reached the takeout at 7.30pm.
Over the next days we rested and the others paddled a few other rivers, unfortunately my tail bone injury was preventing me from being on the water, but I tried to stay upbeat. Driving shuttle and taking photos wherever possible.
Joel and Blake headed off just after new years day and Will, Todd and I decided that we should head to Agua Azul, Chiapas. I figured the numerous days of travelling would be good healing and by the time we arrived paddling Agau Azul would be an option.
Upon arriving at Agua Azul three days later we met some other kayakers at the put-on. As we played our way down the upper section, I was really enjoying the river. Although the water was a little on the high side, therefore not producing the beautiful blue water I had seen in pictures it was still fun. We even managed to do a sick 50ft waterfall jump. We continued down the river picking up a few more kayakers along the way. We were a big group now (15 people) and this ended up coming back to bite us on the bottom. One kayaker broke his ankle, which led to a tricky vertical extraction, a long portage and paddling out in the dark. Luckily the paddle out was mostly flat.
The next week was my final week in Mexico, and frankly the most difficult of the whole ten weeks. The injury I picked up on the Lower Jalacingo was literally a pain in the ass and kept me out of my kayak for the remainder of my time in Mexico. This meant I was mostly sunbathing, reading and driving shuttle. We took some time to check out the tourist stuff as well. Some sick ruins are in the town nearest Agua Azul, called Palenque.
Two days before my flight home I took a bus to Cancun, then had to work out a place to stay for one night. Luckily for me the baggage storage place at the cancun bus terminal said they would look after my kayak for the night, which made finding a place to stay way easier. Unluckily a torrential storm was hitting Cancun hard, so instead of going to the beach I spent the day indoors, which sucked.
After a short wait and a long plane ride home I found myself back in the UK, and Cold.
So there it is, Mexico trip report, DONE. See you on the river.
Photos Todd Richey, Joel Kowalski, Blake Mahoney and Myself.
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