Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rio del Oro



The Put-in waterfall of the Oro
Ever since my first river experience I have always wanted to paddle on a river that finished in the ocean. It has been about five years since I first got in a kayak and fell in love with the world of rivers. All this time there has always been this desire to run a river to the sea and I finally got the chance recently on the Rio del Oro in Veracruz. After a few weeks of running some incredible whitewater in Tlapacoyan our crew felt the need for a bit of change. We loaded up the van with boats and people (myself, Becca, Chris, Riley, Sandy, and Paffhouse) and headed to our first stop, Jalcomulco.

 Jalcomulco is a small town a few hours south of Tlapacoyan and is quite the river village. It is a small pueblo that lives off tourism and the center of town is the takeout for a fun class 3 section that thrives of rafting. A local kayaker Misa, hooked us up with a place to crash and was a good source of local beta from everything from cheap eats to good paddling. We spent a couple days in Jalcomulco kayaking the local section and getting everyone in the water even Paffy who shredded in the kayak and Becca and myself taking on the Dynamic Duo double kayak. The three of us got our first swims out of the way but came out with smiles at the end of the day.
Camping on the beach

We hung around Jalcomulco until Misa finished up his work week and we all rallied down to the Rio del Oro for some beach and kayak time. The drive took us about 5 hours with some stops for tacos, picking up Riley’s mate Kevin in Veracruz and stocking up with some groceries for the next couple days. We finally made it to the small beach town of Roca Partida and pulled up to a local restaurant and were greeted warmly by local guide Flaco. Flaco owns a restaurant on the beach and gladly let us string up some hammocks under his palapa and set up camp for the next few days. Each time Flaco got sight of you he was always asking, “Todo Bien, todo bien?” He always was doing his best to make sure we were enjoying ourselves and living la buena vida.

It is funny how during a kayak trip sometimes the actual act of being in a kayak only amounts to an hour or two per day. The rio oro is one of those rivers that is by no means long and besides a few small rapids only holds 2 big waterfalls in the 30 to 40 foot range. This short trip holds so much beauty aside from just being in our kayaks and in the river. I feel like it is the whole experience of waking up in the morning, having a couple cups of coffee with some good friends, eat some breakfast when someone decides be on cook crew or wait around while a few of the boys help the locals pull in the fishing net with the rest of town that was set out earlier in the morning. The first morning I sat around and drinking coffee and watching as Riley and Misa joined the fishing crew and pulled in the big net that took them a solid hour of tug-a-war until the whole net was on the beach.

Misa freeing the sand shark

What comes next in the big catch is the surrounding households gather their part for their families and the rest of the fish that is eatable is put in crates to be brought to the bigger city to be sold. Then after everything is cleaned up, straight to the kitchen to fry up some fish for a big healthy lunch, then for the Mexicans probably a solid siesta or some beers to top off the afternoon. This is when our kayak posse makes our first move to the river. Life on the beach is easy living, chorbel mode. These people only work the necessary amount in order to eat and make a bit of cash, then the rest of the day they hang out with their friends and family. Essentially they are doing exactly what we are doing on this vacation, they figured out how to live a simple and enjoyable life.
The Hike in

Paffy tucked up and ready for landing on his first ever waterfall
Well after Misa, Riley and Kevin had their fare share of the Oro they headed back to Jalco and Matt, Chris, Becca and myself decided to hang a few more days on the beach. The next few days on the beach where pretty mellow, we only made one more trip up the river but this time with the intent to get Matt to huck his first waterfall. Matt or Paffy as most call him, started guide school on the Kern with me five years ago but never got as attached to kayaking like I did. Possibly because the “load-star” in him or he just never bought a kayak and the gear. But since I had an extra kayak plus gear, Chris and I had him hike into the first waterfall and after I ran the first big waterfall, Chris lowered his boat down to me and Matt jumped into the pool below. We ran two smaller rapids in between before stopping above the lip of the second 30 footer for a scout and explained to Paff where to run the falls and Chris and myself went off to set up safety below. We heard Paff toot his whistle to warn us of his descent and there he was coming off the lip perfectly tucked awaiting the big hit at the bottom. From the hard impact he was ejected from the boat but all was good and I think it was the biggest smile I had seen from such a happy guy.

The beach getaway was a good break and a relaxing time to get outside with some good friends. To be able to run a river and paddle out of the river mouth into the ocean is quite the experience. Although there where no epic waves to surf at this beach there was always the cold cerveza awaiting us back at Flaco’s palapa after a good session of paddling.

Photos by Kevin Whiting

Lining up the big tuck

The good old paddle toss
Myself trying a little to hard to boof

Chris lining up the first big drop


1 comment:

  1. Great post! The gopro photos came out pretty awesome. xx