Veracruz Part 1

When most people think of México, drug wars and cartels come to mind.
As with everything in life, most things are blown out of proportion and if you look past some of the rough areas you can find some amazing gems.

For the outdoor community, we see the beautiful mountains, jungles, volcanic rock, and rivers that await paddlers.
Last year I had a group of friends take a paddling trip to the state of Veracruz, hearing stories of their 100′ repels into walled out gorges and the hospitality of the local community made this destination stick out.
The first problem that we had when planning the trip was travel once in Mexico, thankfully there is a high-quality bus travel infrastructure and most of the terminals are bilingual and kayak friendly.
Flying into Mexico City we took the Astrella Roja to the terminal in Puebla, and then on to our final destination at Tlapacoyan. Upon arrival in Tlapacoyan all of the local taxi drivers know to look for the confused travelers dragging paddle bags and wrapped boats behind them.
We opted to stay at Adventurec just outside the city of Tlapacoyan, this is a quality outdoor center with shuttle service, local river knowledge, and food/lodging which is reasonably priced.

All of the paddlers in our group are from the Southeastern United States, my friend Brandon Koch and I are from the Chattanooga, TN area and Matt Huddleston is from just outside of Birmingham, AL.
Since all three of us have professional careers outside of paddling, we had been working more than normal prior to our trip.
There are a large number of sections of the river to paddle in the area ranging from Class III to V+, when we arrived we decided to check out one of the local class III runs to get used to the feel of the water and the local geology.
We took advantage of the more relaxed section of a river the first day to get back in the boating mindset, and shake off the 60 hr work week, the Rio Filobobos.

Day two we went to the “roadside” section of the Alseseca River, this is an amazing Class IV/V section of river that is easy to get laps on quickly.
Remarkably enough, it only has about 350 CFS in this section and it is a lot higher quality than you would imagine.
The crux rapid here is called S-Turn which is a 10-foot slide into a sharp right turn, as soon as you drop into the rapid you immediately charge right and then take a sharp turn back to the left.
Staying neutral here is critical as you are experiencing multiple cross-currents and this tight and walled in rapid.

Our next major section of river we paddled was the Big Banana section of the Alseseca, this section was worth all of the travel and sickness!
The put-in is at the base of a majestic 100′ waterfall, and you immediately get a sense of awe when you arrive at the start of the run.
This section is world class, your first major rapid is called Mexican 20′ which is a clean lipped 25+ foot waterfall that lands in a large pool.
Next is a slide called Mordor, this is a straightforward drop that funnels all of the water into a tight and dark channel.
There really is nothing you can do except to keep your angle straight and tuck when you hit the bottom, your momentum will send you into the deep water and you will pop up about 15 feet downstream.

Silencio Falls is up next, this is a 40′ drop that has a nasty undercut wall on the left but goes very well if you stay right on the lip.
It’s the signature drop of the run and has a very large recovery pool at the bottom with plenty of calm water before the next section.
After several drops that would probably be named on any other run, you come to Meatlocker. This is a complex double drop that needs a good bit of water.
We had low levels for our trip and had only a few in our crew fire up this rapid their first time, you want to be right coming off the top drop and charge right again on the second pad.
The low water made it to where you were thrown straight and had all of the side currents crashing in on top of you from the right.
From here on out it was amazing Class IV, full of great boofs and smiles, the Corona stand and the takeout was also a plus!

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