Show Up and Blow Up: Mexico

The whitewater was incredible… warm, clear, and there were oranges floating by. For more of Rio Antigua and the bike/raft traverse over Pico de Orizaba (18,491 ft.), click here.



Rivers, low water, January 2013:

  • El Salto and Cascadas Micos
  • Alseseca (Roadside and Big Banana)
  • Antigua (Barranca Grande)
  • Rio de Oro

Big Banana was the most incredible river I’ve ever been on. Sadly, in order to keep up with the kayaks we didn’t get much footage. We portaged the class V’s, swam the 22-footer, “Mordor,” and a few other rapids.

Alpacka’s Cargo Fly zippered packrafts have now been pressure tested to 30 feet! More discussion / packrafter’s beta below the pictures.

Cascadas Micos

Cascadas Micos

Cascadas Micos

Cascadas Micos

Cascadas Micos

Cascadas Micos

Duct Tape Gasket

Duct Tape Gasket

Todd and I freaked out when everyone started stretching.

Todd and I realized we were in over our heads when everyone started stretching.

Big Banana Crew, photo by Julien.

Big Banana Crew, photo by Julien.

Todd Tumolo, Cascadas Micos

Todd Tumolo, Cascadas Micos

Todd Tumolo, 30 footer, Rio de Oro

Todd Tumolo, 30-footer, Rio de Oro

Todd Tumolo, 30 footer, Rio de Oro

Todd Tumolo, 30-footer, Rio de Oro

Todd Tumolo

Todd Tumolo

Todd Tumolo, Gulf of Mexico

Todd Tumolo, Gulf of Mexico

HMG Shelter, Rental Car, Graveyard

Hyperlite Mtn Gear Shelter, Rental Car, Graveyard

Packrafter’s Beta:
The Rio Antigua is probably the best destination for paddlers that want class III, IV-lite water. Water was low in mid-Jan, but even at higher levels everything could be portaged.

For more technical water, I’d recommend basing out of Aventurec, Tlapacoyan, to hit the Alseseca and neighboring rivers. Aventurec was incredibly friendly, the hostel rooms were nice and cheap, and they can drive shuttles to wherever you want to go. It is also the best bet to find other paddlers; we needed the big group for Big Banana. I wouldn’t want to go in there with less than four for safety and help chasing down the packrafts.

Driving north to Micos was pretty brutal, and the water was too low, but a fall or December trip to Micos and El Salto would be incredible. Micos has essentially no hazards. We got pretty worked on the big three rapids of El Salto.

The boats:
The sprayskirt was pretty useless in everything above splashy class III. I’d love to see a deeper bite on the combing and cord-lock adjustable tension on the skirt to really tighten it up. I have complete confidence that I will get pulled out of thigh straps and skirts in the packraft- the boat’s buoyancy is so great that you can’t possibly stay in. I took one swim where Todd said the boat disappeared… I felt like I was in a one of the vacuum tubes you see at banks… sucked right out of my boat.

The zipper never gave any hint of stress or failure; pressure-tested to 30 feet, our biggest drop. We were impressed.

The travertine ledges (Micos, El Salto) were very sharp and the boats wouldn’t be able to survive much more boating at such low water.

I am now using a kayak back-band instead of the Alpacka or Feathercraft inflatable back rests. I have the back band clipped into my thigh-strap D-rings. The support is incredible and it has helped my roll.

10 responses

  1. Wow! Some of the best rafting yet of all time!

    January 31, 2013 at 4:24 pm

  2. Volker

    So cool. Love your videos.

    And thanks again for the Tasnuna/Bremner infos. I admittedly suffered in the brush with the heavy backpack (and a torn ligament). But the rafting part (Tasnuna + Nizina) was cool and easy.

    February 1, 2013 at 11:13 am

  3. Pekka Pehkonen

    Did you guys manage to stash all your gear inside the raft tubes?

    February 4, 2013 at 2:41 am

    • Hi Pekka- We stashed our gear in the tubes for the traverse part of the trip, but we were in sport mode for the more technical water. -Luc

      February 4, 2013 at 8:00 am

  4. Great vid, great trip.

    Your boof at 1:55 was so freakin’ smoove the wife just came down here to find out what I was cheering about.

    Hope I can make (and am still invited on) the next one.

    February 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm

  5. Derek Collins

    Super cool Vid.

    April 7, 2013 at 6:58 am

  6. jfjobin

    The cargo fly is still stong after some test?
    A necessity in your opinion if i order a new boat?
    I don’t want be stress every time i fill gear in the boat about put some sand in the zip…
    thanks

    May 1, 2013 at 6:51 am

    • It is not a necessity, but if you intend to use the boat for multiple day excursions without at lot of hiking/rafting transitions, it is sure nice to keep the gear dry! I think it is worth the extra cost. The slight added weight and bulk are more of a bummer.

      The zipper definitely passed the pressure test. We didn’t give it a true sand/silt test.

      May 1, 2013 at 8:03 am

      • J-F

        After one season of use ,how is the reliability of cargo fly in general and in sand/silt real field test?
        thanks

        January 30, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      • I think the zipper itself is bomber, I haven’t had any problems with silt/sand or the zipper not closing. The adhesive that attaches the zipper to the boat started to peel, probably because of how tightly I fold my boat, but it was an easy fix with aquaseal. I haven’t heard of anyone else having that problem; it might be because my zipper was added as a remod.

        January 31, 2014 at 8:47 am

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