Upper Jalacingo

Today was another day in Veracruz Paradise. Our first real whitewater and my first day paddling on class 5 in Mexico. The morning kicked off earlier with breakfast at 7. With plenty of food in our stomachs and a majority of logistics figured out we sped off…. The boys were mentally preparing for a much longer day of whitewater as they were doing both the Upper and Lower. The lower didn’t appeal to me once they said 60 footer…..

The put in was the closest to the road yet where we literally took the boats off the roof and placed them in the water. It was an entertaining start as the cows were crossing the river as we began paddling downstream. The first thing that surprised me was the amount of water in the river. Nick and Rafa were commenting that it looked liked great flows, not super low, and I was thinking that I had maybe never paddled on anything with that low of cfs ever. Right away we were bombing down solid class 3-4 with fun slides, boofs and maneuvering around rocks. The rocks were super smooth so bumping into them with a villain and a new one on top of that didn’t slow me down much.

We began portaging almost immediately… I felt we had maybe been paddling 5-10 minutes before our first portage. The portage was around large waterfalls that landed on rocks, something like 50ft I think…….followed by another big waterfall landing on rocks. The hike wasn’t bad at all with a couple slick spots but mostly all in a farmer’s field. We got back in, skirts on and away we went.

The next few rapids started getting steeper and then put us on top of a vertical drop of 10 ft. The 10 footer looked big from the bottom and I had troubles believing it was only 10 feet… Then nick said the 20 footer was right below us, I looked back at the 10 footer and yelled, ITS DOUBLE THAT?! Nick found that funny but said yepp, just follow right behind me… That’s where the stress of horizon lines really kicked in. I am terrified of heights, I am honesty not afraid of the fall, the instruction, making sure I’ll style it or any of those things. But I do absolutely hate the feeling of being directly above a drop and then having the look down……And I get scared of when the time comes to look down.  So now with the full butterflies kicking in (not that they weren’t there before….) I waited for Rafa to give his little whoop call and away Nick and I went. I styled the drop and paddled away, looking back to be like oh it wasn’t so bad… but when I looked back I couldn’t believe I did it. The combination of the little water and its verticality really made the drop look huge. Or maybe it was Rafa still standing at the top of it. Either way it made it look GINORMOUS. (to me and no one else!)

I was so happy to have the drop done as it was one of the two that concerned me and away we went for the rest of the rapids. The slides got big, then they got bigger and then they got twisty-er……It was very much so like a water park in the sense of point down and go.. with only minor maneuvering needed the boys took off down the slides with close to no instruction. This led to many surprises such as one slide that once at the bottom you could barely see the top, it was so far up and the overgrowth of the jungle around us really gave it a nice frame.

One of the slides you had to get right as the bottom of the slide was a massive boulder that almost goes across the whole river. It was not an undercut but it was a piton nightmare. I was following nick once again and we didn’t get as far right at the top as we needed to but the rock was just far enough down stream of the slide that I managed to guide myself right and come in almost sideways, missing the rock and continuing on downstream.

We got out again to portage but this time we were to seal launch for the first time and I was pretty nervous. I don’t practice seal launches near as much as I should and now was a time to test it… Luckily after watching Dane go it was obvious it was a no brainer and off I went. Seal launched directly into a slide and met Dane at the very bottom.  Which was farther down then I expected!

We then paddled more slides and got out again for another seal launch were nick made the mistake of mentioning he pitoned last time. Thus I had him push me off to ensure an omega boof. Over booed I did and away we went….

After few rapids we then arrived at a rapid called the Log rapid…. Or at least that is what we called it all day. Nick said I would not want to do it and I was surprised after the seal launches I had just done as this drop did not look more intimidating to me. It was a small boofing slide thing drops down just as you are going under a log… the log from above looks like death or definite decapitation.  Following the lop it continues into a complete 90 degree turn of about an 8 foot drop. But the boys said I would be totally fine and there is no way it would hit me. Knowing that Dad and Dane were taller than me they passed easily without even ducking… They both almost flipped off the turn but Nick said there was nothing too work about down there. I assumed that meant there really was nothing. Dad leaned into the turn causing him to flip that direction as he went off the drop. Nick and Rafa said to keep my weight centered but drag a right blade to control the turn. I jumped in confidant and proud that out of all the things I had done that day, that the one my husband said I wouldn’t like, I wasn’t near as scared about. I then went down, styled the top where they could see and as I hit the wall to turn, didn’t lean into it enough and actually flipped on my way down the drop. On the way down doesn’t even sound right as I actually started hitting rocks with my chest and head the WHOLE way down. It had to be the most violent hits I had ever received in my kayak. With the wind knocked out of me and myself being unsure of what actually hurt the most, I paddled over to Dad who comforted me and helped me realize that nothing was hurt badly.

The boys at the top came down and said I styled it, than noticing my tear streaked faced as me what happened. Dad proceeded to tell them and they felt bad but said I looked awesome in the shot…. Boys….

We then arrived at the biggest horizon line of the day… and I told you how much I love those. This one seemed massive. Dane had pulled up on a rock only to realize a log was across the usual line. Nick then said we would run the left and when I looked at it for a second and then looked at how tall the horizon line was, I knew I didn’t want to paddle off the lip. I than begun my next hiking mission. The boys really went out of their way and lowered a rope, pulled my kayak to the top and then Nick walked me to the river. I got to hang out and actually take a second to not focus on styling each line but to really look around me.

The scenery here is amazing. The scenery in the gorge, was gorgeous. The ferns, plants and trees all feel like they must be 100’s of years old. Green mosses and huge leaves covered every inch of scenery and the rocks dark contrast with the whitewater really made the whole experience that much better.

We then paddled not even 30 feet when we arrived at Bukaki, where photographers and media had arrived to photograph us paddling down. This was the first rapid where the boys actually said I could scout! So I scouted and having the option, where all the other places it never really felt like there was. I walked. Sure I could have done it. And I didn’t think it was as intimidating as the straight vertical drop but the amount of adrenaline I had already dealt with that day left me exhausted. I was ready to get out.

I helped go pro the boys multiple descents and they all rocked it of course. I hung out with my mom and baby brother kc, making the day complete in family time.

After multiple laps on Bukaki which was a windy slide into a 15 footer the boys headed down and Nick told me I would be better off walking with the group. It was an entertaining walk and I had to banish all dislike for mud, cow pie mud on top of that. I also had KC in my boat as I was dragging it. When we walked for 15 minutes the boys met up with us and we all had a little picnic in the middle of the cow field with the media, drivers,  James and Lee, Mom and Kc, and our paddling group. (Dad, Dane, Nick, Rafa and myself)

The boys were debating time but decided if they rallied they could make the bottom Jalacingo before sun down. So off they went with an hour hike ahead due to the road being closed. Because the road was closed we were unable to get the vehicles down to drive the boys around the middle section. The boys had to hike around the entire middle section as apparently it is only like 4 rapids and all go directly under rocks.

I had a bit of an epic hike with my villain dragging behind me. My calves hated me by the time we got to the car but I was grateful for the help from James and Lee.  I was prepared for a much larger hike as my mom said it was at least an hour, maybe hour and a half. But the beginning before the picnic was 15 minutes followed by only 30 minutes max.  So I was stoked when I saw the car as I thought it was going to be a longer hike.

I then got my clothes on and heading back the Rancho de Carmen with Lalo as my designated shuttle driver. I was very happy to be driven back so I could shower and relax a bit. I did that perfectly with a quick pool dip with KC followed by a margerita and fries by the pool with my mom.

The Villain really made me happy during the day. I felt it was so easy to get up on rocks when i needed to, and it carried its speed away from all the holes. It also held its angles well on the slides…. I was super happy to paddle something new and not have to think about my kayak but just my paddling and go… This took a huge load off my mind knowing that the boat would take care of me if by accident i pitoned, or that it would role well if i flipped!

Now I am about to go enjoy another Mexican meal as soon as the boys roll in. They should be back within the hour and I can’t wait to hear the stories from the rest of the run!

Nick and Dane are working on the footage and photos as soon as they get a chance! We should have some sweet shots and videos coming soon!

Emily