I was nervous about this trip for a long time. The rivers of Veracruz, Mexico can be tough on your body, to say the least. The rivers are some of the best in the world and each section contains at least one thirty-five foot waterfall stacked among countless other drops. This was my third trip to here and once again I am astonished at how clean the free fall is and how easy it is to access these amazing rivers thanks to Aventurec.
The trip was not all sunshine and rainbows though. Air Canada lost my kayaks for two days at the start of the trip and somehow the team and I caught the gnarliest flu I have ever had in my life. I took one day off to wallow, sweat and shiver before dragging myself out onto the amazing rivers of Veracruz.
The Big Bannana section of the Alseseca is one of the world’s very best. Beginning at the base of the 128 foot Big Banana falls, it is a spectacular location to start a river run and a very special place for me to visit after successfully kayaking down the falls a few years ago. The river starts with a little bit of rock dodging and chossy moves before it gorges up and forms clean rapid after clean rapid the whole way down, including waterfalls such as Meat Locker and Silencio before finishing just above the infamous Tomata waterfalls.
I felt terrible out on the water, slow and weak but I plodded on and kept kayaking every day.
Zack Mutton was frothing to throw a back freewheel off Tomata One. As someone that is in the transitioning stage of young and dumb, I obliged him by kayaking off the sixty-footer to set safety at the bottom. Zach stuck the trick and we celebrated at the bottom. It felt great for me just to float off such a big clean waterfall again.
Dane finally felt well enough to go kayaking and I convinced him to take us down the Upper Jalacingo. It’s one of the few classic sessions of river I hadn’t kayaked at this point, there’s certainly a lot to know as we did eight portages in total. Don’t let that put you off though as the Upper Jah is a sick rollercoaster ride down through the jungle.
We all felt terrible trying to soldier on with the flu but decided to try to keep the momentum of the trip and to keep kayaking. We had an all-star crew of cameramen and there was certainly a little bit of pressure to at least keep them entertained and give them something to shoot.
We tried to force tricks out on a forty-foot waterfall with bad flows which resulted in myself and Dane crashing directly onto our heads twice, before admitting the flows weren’t right and heading to Tomata. Dane stuck one of the most perfect big, back freewheels ever. I went for the double wheel and learned a lot about that rotation but didn’t quite crank it through into a tucked landing like I had planned. Big downriver freestyle tricks like this are intimidating because you only really get one chance to throw it and stick it, otherwise you’re probably spending some time off the water recovering from a huge impact. I was happy to learn and not get hurt and decided that I need to wait until I am not sick to try this trick again and to get some practice in on a smaller waterfall first. Told you I’m transitioning from young and dumb.
We dropped into the Lower Jalacingo which is sick! Back-to-back waterfalls at the start, including the infamous Twisted Pleasure before the run gives way to five foot boofs for well over a kilometre. It’s such a sick piece of water! I was struggling to breathe the whole way down and decided not to risk the wall ride or beat down at the dungeon waterfall and meekly and breathlessly portaged around it.
We scouted Big Banana with Dane as one of the goals of this trip and to kayak all the way to the bottom of the river upon landing. Dane still didn’t feel healthy and hadn’t had any good warm-up days on the river so he decided to wait for another trip to send it. Pretty impressive in my opinion to ignore all the other factors and to just focus on how he felt about this waterfall. I would have supported him whatever he decided but I was relieved he was not going to drop into something so gnarly when he wasn’t feeling 100%.
I ticked off the remaining classics, Dane flew home early and once again I left Mexico amazed at how good the kayaking is here. It was not the trip we wanted but I still got some amazing days on the water and lots of beautiful time flying through the air in my kayak!
Many days in Mexico are spent deep in dark gorges away from the sun, often with throw-and-go portages getting you completely soaked and the days can be long on the river. My top pick for a piece of equipment to use on this trip is the newly updated Palm NeoFlex. I am so impressed with how much the new version stretches and how good of a job it does in keeping me warm out on the water in these situations. Some days I wore it on its own and other days I wore it under my dry top but I wore it every single day on this trip.
Catch you on the water, Bren.