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Ben Stookesberry has set his mind on completing the Alseseca River from top to bottom, which includes some of the steepest sections of river anywhere. This section of Mexico is East of Mexico City and is the last place in Mexico that the Artic Jet Stream hits, and the mountains, Sierra Madre Oriental Range get lots of rain, and fog, and are very tropical, and thick. It is similar to Costa Rica, I guess, for the lack of a better description. The weather has been a little cold so far, rainy, and foggy, with some sun. highs in the 60´s, or low 70´s and lows in the 50´s.

I am arriving two weeks into their trip. Nick, Rafa, Eric, Phil,and Darren, have been paddling with Ben filming and running lots of awesome stuff.

Jesse Coombs and I just showed up yesterday, along with a writer and photographer who wanted to cover the filming. The travel was interesting.

I couldn´t get my boat on the plane in Nashville after trying on American Airlines, bummer, and had to bust a move to Atlanta, but a ticket on the spot on Delta to get to Mexico City at 10pm, after th rest of the crew arrived already. We then drove all night arriving at our destination at 6am. I did the last two or so hours and it was in the mountains, passing trucks in switchbacks, and on little roads reading my first Mexican map.

We slept for a few hours before Ben and the crew showed up to do a "Warm Up" run which they had already done a week before. The first rapid (no warm up) was a 25 footer that had a shelf at the landing and a slanted platform to take off of feeding into the wall on the left with a rock outcropping. Phil hurt his back on this drop and the week before and he is still not the same. It is getting better though. I had a nice line, erring on the side of the wall, instead of the back crunching rock and the trip was under way!

The rest of the run was mostly bedrock in the jungle with beautiful tropical forest and cliffs. There were a number of big drops and some very interesting ones.

One slide that narrowed down to about a boat length wide had a curler that fed you into a super sticky hole. I scouted it with Nick, and good thing because we ended up pulling people out of it by their grab handles (did I tell you that the Rocker/Mega Rockers have easy to grab webbing handles that don´t hurt your hands?). Ben got stuck first and surfed well but wasn´t getting out. I got his bow out far enough to pass it off to Nick to pull him the rest of the way out. We did this to two others before we ran it, but we didn´t get stuck on that one.

There were some sweet slides down below and then the big S turn which was interesting, steep, and twisting. We filmed it and I was in my boat about to go behind Jesse Coombs, but Jesse flipped after landing the first drop, which immediately shoots you right to the far wall and tries to flip you on the wall. He ran the next drop upside down, dropping his paddle because it was on the rocks and tweaking his shoulder. He realized that his shoulder was dislocated and he swam after pulling it back in joint underwater in the hole at the bottom. It was a sad day for Jesse, and our first day. He was so excited about the trip too and ready to fire up lots of big drops. It took an hour to get him out of the river and up the bank, but luckily for us we were not far from the put in and a trail got him out. I ran the drop after all was said and done with Ben on my tail with a pov camera set up.

The final drop was a crack that bent up Nick´s boat on his run a week earlier, but it looked good to me and I lead that one, something I had not done on any big drops yet.

We made it to the take out at dark and back to eat and say goodbye to Jesse who was going to get his shoulder taken care of.

Today we planned on doing a first descent but rain brought the river up too high for it. We ended up going up to the VERY top of the river on a section that a couple of drops had only been run once before by Ben 4 years ago, but the first one didn´t go well (coughing up blood, etc. from a "rib" that tripped him up 40 feet into the 60 foot drop). Just before this drop is a major portage around another 60 or so footer into an pool the size of a car. The portage included 4 throw bags to lower ourselves and boats down a nearly vertical jungle cliff. It took about an hour. Today Ben was ready to the rib falls again, and Nick also looked game. Ben gave the thumbs up and I filmed his run. It was not pretty but he didn´t get hurt. Nick was game but a fog bank moved in that cut the visibility to 40 feet and it was eery. He decided to fire it up anyway and had a pretty good line but got swiped on his back deck and lost his paddle having to hand roll up.

I wasn´t interested in this falls seeing that it was a big hit on a flake 40 feet into the run and another 20 to go with little margin for error if it kicked you right (rocks). I passed, happy to hold the camera on that one. Nick really has been stepping it up on this trip, as is Rafa who has run just about everything. Rafa didn´t paddle today to rest up.

The next drop, right after the rib, was a sweet turning slide into a 20 footer. Nick went first and got launched early at the end of the slide and flew forever before landing on his left blade, breaking his second paddle of the trip (losing one too). I went and loved this rapid and landing it nicely. Then Heather went and went over the bars breaking her paddle too. We only had one breakdown on this run and nick ended up c1ing.

Some other highlights were me getting to boat boof twice and get boofed on once. Lots of sticky holes and once Nick got stuck and I boofed over him but got railroaded into the left wall and was i the hole upsidedown with no paddle and Nicks boat bouncing all over me. I managed to get out by climbing along the wall upside down but Nick swam. Before either of those things happened Eric plugged in and went under both of us! Nick has a bad headache and he got hit by something, either me or Eric.

Later Heather got stuck and I boofed over her but didn´t get stuck, then Darren did the same but did get stuck and swam. We got Heather out of the hole in her boat with a team effort.

There was another rapid, called the Pooper. It was another one that I walked and was happy to. It is a 12 to 15 footer into a 30 inch wide landing that squeezes the hole river through that crack and curles right as it shoots out over a good 25 to 30 footer all in one move. It was a crap shoot for sure. Three runs, all different results. Eric petoned hard on the way in bending his bow in on the Mega Rocker and then pinballed through the crack and had a good landing off the falls. Then Darren tried a differnt entry and that went well but he got twisted right in the crack and it made him do a perfect air screw over the falls and he landed it!

Nick petoned and bounced down the right and said, I don´t want to d that again.

Bed time, 5:30 wake up!