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Mexico Trip Report '06/'07

Our most recent trip to research for "The River Gypsies' Guide to North America" took us south of the border to Mexico. We decided at the last possible minute that a trip down there was needed, since Mexico is a North American paddling destination with plenty of whitewater. We decided to explore the Eastern Slope - the Sierra Madre Oriental - in the states of San Luis Potosi and Veracruz. Here's the report:


Alseseca
After a little bit of searching, we finally found the upper put-in to the roadside Alseseca. You put in on a small tributary, running two drops before the confluence with the main river. The riverbed was basalt, and it was immediately apparent that this was going to be an incredible day of waterfalls and slides. The first drop was a 13 foot steep slide, and the second was about an 18 footer into a narrow canyon. We weren't even to Alseseca yet!


Leland on the second drop, Alseseca tributary.
Photo by Ben Edson / www.downstreamphoto.com.

Right below that drop, we hit the main river. Basically, what we found was both incredible and very upsetting. This riverbed is one of the wonders of the whitewater world. Over the 1.7 miles of river I totally lost count of how many clean drops between 5 and 20 feet there were. It was an almost mind-boggling display of gradient and basalt. We ran a ton of whitewater, and with about 5 portages of the nastiest stuff this run comes in on the less technical end of class IV. Loads of drop, very little consequence. The main drawback for us is that the river was FILLED with garbage. Floating bottles littered the eddies, and debris lined the banks - all washed down from several towns upstream. Since our trip, the guides at Esprit Rafting have removed and hauled off the trash from the middle section of the roadside run (the most trashed part). The whitewater community owes a big thanks to Jim, Erin, and their guides for cleaning up this amazing river.

Here are some shots from the rest of the Alseseca:


Ben sets up to photograph a big one.
Photo by Emily Mahowald.


Leland probes it.
Photo by Ben Edson / www.downstreamphoto.com.


Emski dropping the same drop.
Photo by Leland.


Ben on the drop above the biggest one on the run.
Photo by Leland.


Ben and Andria looking down into the gut of the big flume.
Photo by Emily Mahowald.


We decided to pass on the big one.
The whole river is in that crack to Andria's right!
Photo by Ben Edson / www.downstreamphoto.com.


Andria drops into another juicy drop.
Photo by Leland.


Ben on a good one.
Photo by Leland.


Emski on a really nice boof toward the end.
Photo by Ben Edson / www.downstreamphoto.com.


Andria on the same drop.
Photo by Leland.

That night we returned to Aventurec for a post-gradient celebration, punctuated by three out of four of our group members becoming violently ill. We suspect the illness was from dirty water on that tributary we paddled, since so many people run the Alseseca with no problems. The end result was a couple of days of down time - which brought Ben and Emski to the end of their time with us, as they had to re-attach the fender of their rental car and return to Mexico City to catch a flight home.

Andria recovered for a couple of days at Aventurec, and then we continued our paddling in Veracruz.

Stay tuned for part 3 of the River Gypsies' Mexico trip report -
Filo-Bobos and some Jalcomulco rivers!