Nov 8, 2006

Tlapacoyan, Vera Cruz, Mexico

More Middle Alseseca adventures were standard for the last few days. We dropped in again planning for a one day, bridge to bridge run that looked rather easy on the topo map. Looks were quite decieving, and after one kilometer at most were were at the entrance to a walled out canyon with a deadly looking hole at the entrance. Our scout revealed the tightest, most verticle walled gorge we had seen yet. The walls varried from 50'-100' but allowed no access for scouting or safety. A long scout through the jungle led us to a trail that eventually connected to a foot bridge that was not on the map. Here a local bananna grower told us of a large waterfall downstream and a 1.5 hour hike to the base of said falls. The day was warm so we dropped all our gear and commencted the long but beautiful hike.
The waterfall emerged from previously mentioned box canyon and spouted off what we initially thought to be a 70'-90' waterfall, that did look pretty run-able but not perfect. We decided to hike back up and scout some more, then return the following day to either rappel or run it. Unfortunatley minor illness set in on some members, and foot rot due to multiple days in the jungle prompted us to take our first whole, much needed group day off after 16 days of paddling or scouting.
We returned energized to the waterfall on the 7th, with Ben Stookesberry and Rafa Ortiz giving it a long scout while we setup the rappel. From the rappel point we found things were much larger than previously percieved. At first we couldn't tell if out 70 meter (230') rope was reaching the water or not. Eventually we confirmed it was, and Eric Seymour led the way off the rappel with his boat. At the bottom he signaled that the rappel was a go, but not with a boat. Eric Jackson followed next after a quick primer on how an ATC works, what a champ to charge off such a massive rappel with no previous experience. We alternated boats and people to the pool below and waited at a rock outcropping to see what Ben Stookesberry and Rafa Ortiz would decide. After a short while they both decided on the rappel, after juding the waterfall to be over 100' and lacking a clean lip.

Our Bananna grower friend thought the next gorge would take us about twenty minutes, but after only going another kilometer downstream we found another walled in, unscoutable from our location gorge and two hours of daylight left. We checked our options and eventually attained our way back to the waterfall, reverse portaging all previously run rapids and at dusk reached a small village high on the hill. Some helpfull locals started taking us down the road in their vehicle, and not five minutes later our epic shuttle driver and phenomial local, Israel, met us on the road.
This morning we scouted the gorge from the rim, and then proceeded to hike back into our boats to run the tightest gorge I have ever seen. The run was fun with class IV to easy class V drops, ending with a nice twenty five footer and a twenty foot slide into a narrow, narrow canyon. Down in the canyon the walls were so tight that the overhanging rock would overlap blocking out the sky and making it very dark. As the canyon opened water gushed out of the cliffs into the river. What an amazing place the Middle Alseseca is and has been, words can't give justice to this area. Ben, Rafa and Heather are out scouting tommorows run from where it opened up today. We have been fortunate on this trip with abnormally dry weather that has allowed us to run so much of the Middle Alseseca, but due to some rainly days, illness and other standard problems we won't be able to complete our original plan of running the whole Alseseca from the source at Altotonga to the confluence at the Filo-Bobos. FYI The Alseseca becomes the Tomata when a bridge crosses the river, and for some reason the name of the river is changed, guess that's just how they do it down here. Hopefully we will be able to continue down to the Tomata in the next two days, all parties are a bit concerned about a forty footer that John Grance swam out of a few years ago, but only the following days will tell the tale.

Jefferson State Creeking

No comments: