Wednesday, October 10, 2007


It didn't take much thought after receiving an email from my friend Tom Meinholtz in California stating Rocky Contos ( was looking for people to join him for a few weeks of paddling in the state of Guerrero around the city of Zihuatanejo. I figured what the hell, I haven't been to Mexico in a few years and with the trip only costing 20,000 Alaska airline miles how bad could it be? Warm water, sandy beaches, cocos. The prospect sounded better the more I thought about it. I was in!

View of beach from downtown

Leaving Anchorage on the night of the 24th, I hooked up with Rocky in LA for the final leg of the flight and got into Zihuatanejo the afternoon of the 25th. After some issues with Rocky's luggage, as in it didn't make it on his flight from Seattle, we had to get a rental car for the next two weeks of adventure. After a good hour or so of waiting around Rocky finally showed up with what would serve as our chariot. Everything was great. The car even had roof racks to boot! Well, that is until we met our first Topes. (for those that don't know, topes are speed bumps) That's when reality set in. Our cars shocks were, well, non existent and we had what might have amounted to about 4 inches of clearance. And so began what would be the routine when driving around, come to a screeching halt right before the topes so that we could hopefully creep over them without hitting. No such luck. Most of the time we would only drag once or twice, but there were plenty of times that involved a sudden "whack" followed by the standard scrape scrape, grind. Hey, no worries, it's a rental.

Our Chariot

So with that we were on our way to find some necessary gear in order for Rocky to be able to paddle. Mainly a helmet. After a little searching we were in luck and for $30 Rocky had a new helmet to replace his Protec. The next morning we headed out to run our first river the Rio La Tigra. This was a great little river and fortunately while finishing our hike to our intended put in the sky opened up and the rain began to fall.

The Hike

This made for very enjoyable class 3-4 paddling with only one mandatory portage. Along the way we found one great wave train with two decent waves and also got a birds eye view of how the locals use their traps to catch the local crawfish.

The Portage

A class 4

One of the waves

Locals setting out their traps

Sunset as we reached take out

After getting off the Rio La Tigra we drove a bit south and stayed in a hotel with intentions of running the Rio Coyaquia. Getting an early start we drove to the take out bridge and started to inquire about the dirt rode to put in. Word was not a chance in our car, which we already knew. So with a little wheeling and dealing we finally got a ride in a local delivery truck that makes the 2.5 hour drive everyday taking supplies up river to the little villages along the way. It was an interesting ride to say the least. We would stop periodically to drop off fruit, sell the villagers fresh tortillas, or give a few little old ladies a ride to the next town. All the while listening to the locals talk about the crazy gringos.

Our Ride to Put in

Long story short, this was one of the best runs we did requiring only a few portages and containing some very high quality rapids. Much like the day before, the sky opened up in the afternoon and again we received more water from the flooding arroyos to pad out our ride to the takeout.

After getting off the Coyaquia we made a mad dash back to the Zihuatanejo airport to pick up the third member of our party, Cody Howard ( Unfortunately Cody had grown tired of waiting for us and took a cab into town where we finally met up with him at our hotel. That night over dinner we decided that given the time we had we would head north to Playa Azul where we would base out of for the next few river trips. The first of these was to be a 2 day on the Rio Arteaga. Upon arriving in Playa Azul we checked the flows on the river and then went about locating a hotel which just happened to be on the beach as well as a hotel owner who was more than happy to drive our shuttle. With the hard work done we went for a swim and kicked back with a few cervezas to watch the sunset.
The next morning we set out to our intended put in and after driving about 2 hours or so finally made it there. At this point it was hard to believe we were actually on the right river as it felt more like an irrigation ditch then a river.

Put in

None the less, the amount of water slowly increased and then we finally made it to the point were the river begins to fall. The next few miles contained some very quality drops although the brush in the flat sections definitely took some of the wind out of my sails.

Cody on the first big one

The second good drop

Rocky on the third good drop of a 3 drop sequence

After the steepest section I found it easier to push my boat along while swimming rather than try and battle the never ending gravel bars. Not to mention it was too hot to be in my boat in the first place. Check back soon for the last two rivers, the Rio Aquililla and the Rio Laja.


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