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By Clay Wright

Derelicte. It is a fashion, a way of life inspired by the very
homeless, the vagrants, the crack addicts who live in the streets. . .
Derelicte – Now the name of the Atzalan River upstream of of the
Alseseca confluence.

Day 2 on our way to the Roadside Run of the Alseseca, we slid under
the fence at the put-in to access some upper drops on the Atzalan
River we could hear through the trees, and wow – I can’t believe we
missed them the first time! There’s a bouncy 30′ slide and 2 steep
rapids just 200 yards before the normal put-in we hadn’t seen or
heard about.. First Descent? No way – too close and too easy to
spot from the road. But what’s upstream from there? On our way up
to our 2nd lap we decided to find out, driving a couple k’s further
then scampering down from Pte. Reiles bridge into the tight gorge
below. Upstream was a vertical walled out mini-gorge with a series
of unrunnable boulder piles I could walk around on at this level. The
rock went to a grabby, broken texture and the options for portage
were limited. But downstream was more basalt carved rapids and drops
with several exit options .. and off we went.

First up was a beautiful sloping 30’er in a tight canyon.. into
about 2.5′ of water. Where was the rest of the water? It looked
pretty good on the scout.. The boats slid through unmanned without a
problem so maybe we could have too. Next up was some cool near-
vertical travertine falls from 10 to 20 feel, and a few manky
slots…then the sucking began. Those course rocks from upstream
filled the flatter sections and with less than 50 cfs it was wheel-
chair city. The best part – the scenery – was marred by years and
years of clothes and trash collected in every eddy, rock, and tree.
With the water so low, we could see – and feel – it all as we pushed
our way along. At one point we had to duck a log, and pull ourselves
through a curtain of old clothes in the process. I remember jeans,
baby-shoes, and torn panties .. and the Zoolander jokes began.

We found another tight mini-gorge and another good size (20′?)
slide/falls – which just needed a bit more CFS to fill in some cracks
– then lots more wheel-chairing, till finally we were greeted by the
horizon line at the top of the big slide. With half the flow as
before. It seems there must be a dam upstream which turned off as
thin tiny amount of water it took to make this trib fun had been cut
down in just hours. Knowing fresher water was near, we bounced on
through the drops on 20 cfs to get to the Alseseca confluence and
roll off the dirt and debris and grey-water smell that would leave a
bad taste in our mouths till the Tequila in the car could cleanse our
pallet and our soul. While according to Rafa, we just might have
secured a Mexican ‘First Descent’, but as we all know, not every
‘first D’ is worth doing, and no river is fun when there is more
trash than water in it.

To future Atzalan paddlers – the water was like 40-50 cfs in the
morning and 20 cfs by afternoon. 60+ cfs might make this run worth


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