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October 26, 2008

By Nick Troutman


Well where did I leave off? Oh yes, so after Joel left, Rafael decided to take us on a couple of his most favorite runs.

We started off with going back to the ‘Big Banana Section’ of the Alsesseca. It had been to years since I had run this section, and the last time it took us 5 days. This time we did the whole section in only a couple of hours. Though it may have helped that the flow was probably double the last time I had run it. We put on knowing it was super high, and hoping that we wouldn’t have any problems. Well for the most part it was a breeze, a lot of good class 4-5 with a 30 footer and a 40 footer sprinkled in there. We all ran the 30-foot falls, with a large boof stroke because the hole at the bottom was juicy. Though after 30 minutes of scouting the 40-foot ‘Silence Fall’ we all decided that on that particular day it would be best to walk it. We continued down the section, with what felt like record speed, boofing of drops, dogging rocks, and punching holes. Though there was one particular hole which was a little trouble some; Ben Mar went first, and after 10 seconds he worked his way out; Rafa decided to walk and film us, so I went next pulling off a roll throw to hole and avoiding a surf completely; After convincing Phil that it was a good idea and it would be good practice, Phil decided to go next. Now you half to know Phil to really appreciate this, he had by this part of the trip swam 3 times and wasn’t looking forward to adding to his list. He also has grown up paddling on the Ottawa and therefore isn’t as afraid as most of big juicy holes. So Phil casually floats down the rapid, flips, runs the rest upside down, and then gets pummeled in the hole at the bottom, and I mean he got worked, and after 35 seconds of cartwheels he decided to pull his skirt. I would see he wasn’t pleased at the least of my encouragement. We continued on all the way to the ‘meat locker’ rapid. I ran it first; having what I felt was a good line, though I didn’t get the sweet double boof. Rafa went next getting a pretty good double boof, and then ran it again in Phil’s boat, getting the biggest double boof probably in the history of the rapid. If you don’t understand, Meat Locker is a double stage drop, that is one 8 foot drops landing on the second 8 foot drop. On Rafa’s second run down he almost plugged the second 8 footer with the stern of his boat, because his boof stroke pulled his bow up so high, it was amazing.

The next day we decided that it was probably the perfect level for the famous Tomata Falls. We also thought it would be a cool idea to bring a red couch to the lip of the falls, to just hang out on while we were there. Not only did we want it on the lip, we decided it would look the best of the other side of the river, so we zip-lined a red couch to the other side of the river. Rafa ran it first, having a great tuck, though being just slightly over vertical he got ejected. He was able to get all of his gear and himself to shore pretty easily, which was a sigh of relief for us being that we can’t do any safety from the lip. Phil decided to fire it up next, this was by far the biggest waterfall he had ever run, and it was pretty obvious that he was nervous. Though he must have collected his thoughts, because he had what could be the best line I have ever seen off Tomata falls. Phil took something like 8 mini strokes while falling and tucked up with the last 10 feet for the perfect landing. Ben was third and last to go after I had decided not to run it this time. Ben had a leaky boat, which caused him to fill up with some water and go pretty over vertical from the top. He was also ejected and broke his paddle, though everything was fine and he wasn’t hurt. Raff then started seriously thinking about running Tomata #2, which has only even been run 4 times, and he has already one of those descents. Though after some good scouting he came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the best water level. We than packed up getting ready to end another day when we realized that our couch was still at the lip. We paddled back over, strapped the couch to two Rockers and Phil and Rafa sat on the couch while paddling it back across only feet away from the Lip of Tomata.

Our Next day was pretty miserable and raining, so with slow spirits we headed for the Trucha Section of the Alsesseca. We started the day off with a 90 foot repel. Even though I have done several it is still nerve-racking jumping off from a tree and hoping you have done everything right. I was the first to go, then Ben. Rafa and Iker and Phil then lowered the boats and gear and then repelled down to join us. The only problem was we had to wait at the bottom for two hours while receiving all the gear, in the spray of the falls, and while it was pouring rain and quite cold. I was shivering so much and so cold that I once everything was done and ready I almost decided not to run it. Luckily I snapped out of it and ran the heck out of it. There is this pretty stout lead into the falls, which consist of a 10 foot slide into a 15 foot drop, with a hole at the bottom, then a pushy eddy and the lip. It went really smooth though on impact you really feel the power of the falls as the whole weight of the river lands on you. Iker, Rafa and myself ran it with the lead-in slide, and Phil seal launched into the eddy and off the lip, while Ben decided that this one wasn’t for him as he jumped into the base of the falls. Our original plan was to then go down and run the real Trucha slide which I had gotten the 1st descent on two years earlier, though after a long cold day we decided to hike out from there. The hike out is a good one roughly twice as long as the Galley hike out, though not as steep. What we didn’t know was that this hike out would only be a warm up for what was in store for us.

The next day we decided to go hit up the Rio Xico. This was one of Rafa’s main goals for the whole trip. He had been talking about wanting to run Xico fall (the 95 foot drop on the middle of the run) for weeks, and had pretty much been preparing himself for it with ever drop since we arrived in Mexico. We put in with way more flow then any of us had ever seen on the river, and the last time I ran it, the river was high. Though we had drove 4 hours there so we weren’t turning around and going back home. We put in on the amazing river, which consists of never ending class 4-5 rapids for several hours. Then we come to the un-portagable and un-scoutable 45-foot waterfall. Ben went first, with Rafa fallowing, and then Iker, Phil and myself. I had always thought it was around 40 feet, though once I was at the bottom I would say that I think it is a bit higher. This could be quite possibly the most powerful drop I have ever run. All four of us went super deep on impact. I went so deep that my ears and forehead were hurting, and everyone else said the same. Iker and Phil both swam, and Phil got lost an elbow pad and got his helmet ripped off; literally the straps ripped off his helmet. We spent the next hour or so sowing some webbing onto his helmet so he could finish the run. With his bright Red webbing Phil looked like Pippi Long Stockings. We continued on for another hour or two with some more challenging rapids, one portage and a 30-foot slide. We finally got to the 95-foot waterfall, though it was getting dark, and conditions were certainly not prime, and no one decided to run it. We then spent the next 2 or 3 hours hiking out near vertically for half the time. It was like 2 Galley Hike outs, but steeper, and then into 5 Little River Canyon hike outs. It was sucked so much, though we all did it, with our cameras, gear, and boats fully loaded. Though unlike the Galley I can’t say I did it without putting down my boat for a couple breaks.

From there our adventures continued on, with what we though would be a simply filming day on the ‘Road Side’ section of the Alsesseca. You have to understand that it had been raining for most of the day and pretty much all night for the past couple days. We showed up at the put in for the Roadside with a couple of Rafa’s friends who had all run this section several times before. This had been the highest any of them had ever seen it, and was most likely the highest the section had ever been run. We sessioned the top 20 footer for an hour while filming and taking pictures, and then we continued on. We started with ten members and slowly each person hiked out one at a time. Rafa Ben and myself were the last ones on the river, making it a quarter of the way down the section before we too decided to hike out. The whole roadside section (on a good day) takes about 20 minutes to run if you are rallying down, we took 45 minutes to make it ¼ of the way. We hiked out at the famous ‘S-turn’ rapid, which at this time was more of a giant capital ‘I’. There were no more bends on the rapid, just a giant flow of water, into the unportagable section.

We then traveled back to the Mexico City, where there was a ‘close by 50 footer’ or so Rafa said. Upon arrival it turned out to be a sketchy 35 footer, which you had to seal launch into, and avoid the logs in the lip, and the rocks in the bottom. Rafa was really fired up about it, so as a team we supported him. I helped him seal launch in, and it turned out to be a great line. Rafa was super fired up, and so was I. It almost felt like a successful line for me as well as Raf, being that I launched him in. It was by far the sketchiest Put-In I had ever witnessed. We then paddled the Rio El Salto down to where it meets up with a beautiful lake, and finished the great day off with some wakeboarding.

The Next day was my 20th Birthday, and Emily flew in to visit me. We then headed to Acapulco, to the beach for a couple days as a birthday present. We are now back in Rafa’s house in Mexico planning for our next ideas for the weekend.

I’ll fill you in on that soon enough.

Signing Out, Live from Mexico

Nick Troutman

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