day before we had a great warm up run on the Upper
we were all excited and nervous about exploration of the Middle
Alseseca. For posterity’s sake it must be noted that years
ago a young Tao Berman attempted the Middle Alseseca at high flows and
ended up spending three days hiking out through the jungle. That,
combined with our knowledge of hefty gradient, precipitous canyon walls
and the remote, jungle nature of the Middle Alseseca composed the
extent of our knowledge. From the topographic map we found a possible
take-out six kilometers downstream of the take-out for the classic run.
Six kilometers can be a long ways for a first descent of this nature,
so we geared up for an overnight and loaded all our gear in the truck
so we could move our base camp. This delay combined with time spent
finding out take-out bridge had the group assembled at the put-in and
loading kayaks around noon.
We did have a small amount of knowledge about the first
this run, it was reputed to be very similar to the Upper Alseseca with
a hike-out point before it dropped off the face of the earth. On the
river we found typical drops similar to the Upper Alseseca for a short
while, then a blind drop that Ben ran
halfway down to scout the corner.
all received hand signals from Ben
and Phil Boyer leads the charge.
It was a rather unusual rapid, the river split around an
divided the flow in half. Down the left a long set of low angle slides
led into a unfriendly looking hole, while the right side had more
pronounced drops but offered a chunky slide at the bottom that if ran
with enough right angle would avoid the ugly hole that was at the base
of where both channels met.
Seymour getting the right
The gradient promptly started to pick up, Nick Troutman,
and Rafa Ortiz scouted the next blind waterfall that was a fifteen
footer into a teacup that was a bit sticky and circulated back into a
cave, mandating a strong boof. Phil and I stayed in our boats on this
one because it offered us more lead-in speed, so no pictures on this
one. The character of the river stayed true and we had another pool
with a crack style waterfall. When we got out to scout one
couldn’t help but notice the downstream view, this is where
the gradient started to take off, and the canyon walls soared.
Ben and Rafa scout up the crack
waterfall that appeared to have a
small rock shelf on the left side of the landing.
Seymour gets his seal launch on
to head downstream and get
Ortiz getting right on the
waterfall, it looks small from this
view but was in the 20-25’ range.
we found a large waterfall
that was chock full of wood, and
far from portageable at river level. Eric Seymour sitting at the top.
We started our first big portage of the trip, climbing
feet up a creek on the left and portaging through a mix of jungle and
cow pasture. We all figured this is probably where Tao and crew hiked
out, meaning from here on it was all first descent minus one waterfall
that had been park and hucked. Looking back up at the teacup and crack.
We scouted a little downstream during the portage and
found that below
the initial mandatory portage was a small pool followed by another
clean waterfall of questionable height, which in turn was followed by a
long turn and a blind corner. At this point in the trip we were still
highly optimistic, so we did a nice thirty-foot jump above the clean
waterfall and lowered boats down in. The clean waterfall ended up being
a perfect twenty footer that led into one of the most beautiful places
I have ever been.
Troutman on the clean ten
Nick and Eric paddled around the waterfall while Phil and
pictures, and they discovered you could paddle back behind the
emerges from behind the curtain.
Downstream the river wandered through a gorgeous vertical
that led into another waterfall. A quick scout unmasked a thirty footer
that landed on rock, but to our surprise we found that after a quick
twenty-foot climb up the rock on the right that we were on a trail. We
carried for a hundred yards downstream and our trail met a creek and
followed it uphill. We left our gear here and scouted the canyon below
the second portage. We found an inaccessible but clean thirty footer
that led into a massive fifty plus footer that landed on rock.
Downstream of the fifty footer were two huge bedrock slides followed by
a clean waterfall of unknown height. We decided to camp at our current
location that night, even through we were only 2k into the run. While
eating dinner we talked about how horrible it was to overnight while
being sick, as a few of the boys weren’t exactly solid. I
ended up waking up some time after midnight and proceeded to throw up
for the rest of the night, not sure if it was breakfast from the day
before or if our water bottle filers weren’t cutting it. The
Alseseca isn’t exactly clean in the middle section, because
Atzalan dumps raw sewage into a tributary. The next morning I did one
of the most brutal hike-outs I have ever done while the group rappelled
into the base of the fifty footer and continued exploring.