Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mexico continued

After completing the Arteaga, it was time for the big adventure of the trip. Well that is, big in terms of the undertaking. With a 4-5 hour shuttle and then the prospect of potentially not having enough water to float at our intended put in we were not sure what we were getting into. So after driving to the bridge near our takeout to check flows we were on our way.

Taking it easy "recovering" after my epic ordeal

At this point I should probably mention a bit about how things work in this neck of the woods. This is an area that for all intents and purposes is a desert. Not in the actual definition since it does have the potential to get a massive amount of precipitation, but it is dry for some 6-8 months of the year. Just so happens we are there toward the end and a slightly more predictable time of the rainy season. Sort of. That said, observing rivers at take out in order to determine boat ability, particularly when it's a multi day trip and one afternoon thunderstorm could change everything in the matter of an hour, doesn't really do much for you. On day trips different story. Imagine floating down a nice tranquil class 3-4 interrupted by an afternoon boomer and then all of a sudden the thought crosses your mind that you and everything around you could be completely swept away. In most cases however, this rain is a welcome change as it pads out the run and can make for a much more quality experience. Not so if you are locked into some box canyon. Whole different ball game! But I digress as we would have welcomed any amount of rain that amounted to more than a sprinkle.

Back to the task at hand. After checking the flow, we needed to go to the Walmart in order to restock and to search for a new video camera. It's a long story but Rocky misplaced one of the other two that Cody had brought along on the Arteaga and upon returning to get it, the locals were already filming themselves jumping off the surrounding cliffs and refused to admit that they had found it. There you've been warned, you leave something behind in Mexico, it's finders keepers and your SOL. So after restocking we were finally underway. Everything was going great, for the first few hours, and then I crossed over into what can only be classified as the mis adventure of my trip. I got sick off the mornings eggs. And I mean sick! This made for a miserable shuttle ride that I remember nothing about followed by one of my most miserable nights on record complete with unbelievable pains in every joint and uncontrollable shivers. It was a truly great experience, one that no hang over can ever hold a candle too. Luckily it only lasted through the night and by morning I was good to go.
Having realized by this point that the river was to small this high up to float a boat, we set to the task of finding a ride down river to a point some 10-15 km downstream that we could. This is where we started to figure out that this whole gringo kayaking thing was kind of a big deal in Aguililla. We were introduced to most everyone in the city buildings, courthouse, police station, etc. Met the President or rather mayor and were then told that we would be escorted by the police to our put in. That is to say we were given a ride by the police. How much better could it get? So with that we were underway.

Rocky and I with the Mayor of Aguililla

Awaiting our driver

The river started out as meandering flat water with high cut banks and the occasional gravel bar. After a bit of bump and grind it finally started to pick up through a maze of purple conglomerate boulders that were a bit on the sievey side. Luckily things quickly changed for the better and we were soon in the thick of it floating through quality California style Granite. At this point the trip can be best summed up by visiting Cody's web page Huckin were he has produced an exceptional video of the trip from what minimal footage we were able to collect.

Rocky mid way through Day 1

All in all, this was the highlight of the trip and a river that is well worth doing if you find yourself in this part of the world.

Cody somewhere Day 1

Coming into the Sea

After finishing the Aguililla we needed to head back to Zihuatanejo so Cody could catch his flight out in a day and a half. But before that happened we still had time for one more day trip that was right on the edge of town. The Rio Laja proved to be another high quality class 3-4 run with one easy portage around a huge slot canyon that was only about 3-4 feet wide. It was a pretty cool site to see to say the least.

Cody in the meat of the Laja

Rocky boofing a hole

Rio Laja Portage

After finishing the Laja, I pretty much decided I had had enough of Mexico. Given the fact we were running out of rivers in the immediate area and the rain was not cooperating to give us boatable flows it was time to get back to a more suitable climate. So after a bit of waiting around I was able to get on Cody's flight out on Sunday(2 days earlier for me) and returned to Anchorage Monday morning and a balmy 29 degrees. With snow on all of the surrounding peaks, ski season is right around the corner!!!


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