from a fitful night we were more than a little relieved about the
absence of rain. Our minuscule camp was just inches above river level.
Ben Stookesberry, Rocky Contos and
Jesse Coombs ready for another day
deep in the gorge. Not the boxed in tributary across the river.
Putting on we were back in the standard Piaxtla puzzle.
and often dubious rapids. Over the next hour we expended a lot of
effort to get out of the canyon, and were glad to relax in a large pool
below the gorge. Hoping to have the last gorge behind us, the Piaxtla
opens up and teases us with an ideal campsite.
James Dusenberry with a hundred yard
Every time the river opened up just a little we assumed we'd made it
past the gorges, but the following bend in the river would contain
another surprising gorge.
Another mini gorge.
Moves on the river were unlike any
we'd experienced before. Jesse
Coombs explaining the line, an upstream ferry under the boulders and
into the right channel.
Ben Stookesberry heading down the
right channel after the sieve ferry.
Locked in again.
The largess of the river bed and low water gave us space
to move under
the rocks. An easy ferry through a sieve, no big deal. On the other
hand a class V rapid leading into a navigational sieve was more than
unique, it was slightly terrifying. Thankfully we were numbed by the
past weeks experience in the canyons of the Piaxtla and it didn't seem
Ben Stookesberry leads the charge.
Past the sieve rapids the river started to meander through
canyon. Looks like the excitement is over and we can start on the long
paddle out through what should be class II-III.
Jesse Coombs soaks in the scenery.
Rounding the proverbial river bend,
our laughter ceased and stomachs
Once again the river plunged over several boulder strewn
a vertical walled gorge. We were too short on food to attempt an all
day portage, as if that was even an option. The high canyon walls were
cliffed out and a river level attack was the only choice.
Ben Stookesberry contemplating how the
river can drop through such a
The canyon looked menacing to say the least, and we took a
while the inexhaustible Mr Stookesberry scouted high on the canyon
walls. Even with extensive scrambling and climbing he was able to
ascertain nothing about the gorge, and had nothing positive to say
about portage options. Rapids led into the gorge, and we decided to
space out our team as we dropped in. In this manner we would be able
to, with some creative rope work, pull out every team member if the
gorge was impossible.
Ben Stookesberry above the rapid that
would start committing us to the
From his vantage Ben signaled that the rapid was a portage
and could be
walked on the right. I paddled down to him and talked over a plan. He
was now at the last point of self recovery, and I would portage and
ferry across to hopefully ascertain what happened in the gorge as it
turned a corner. From his position he would be able to extract me if
The portage into the gorge.
Looking back upstream from my vantage
point. Extraction would be tough.
I could only see a little further into the gorge, where
turned right beyond my view. I would be able to extract one person from
downstream, and Rocky Contos volunteered to probe around the corner.
Personal apprehension peaked. Knowing we had no portage
option, and the
whole gorge entrance was filled with rock chocked sieve piles, I was
worried we be forced to running something we'd never ordinarily
contemplate. As Rocky paddled around the corner we all held our breath.
Minutes passed like an eternity, until he returned to view and gave the
classic okay signal, a pat on the head.
The rest of the team joins Rocky in
the "Gates of the Piaxtla".
Jesse Coombs and Rocky Contos.
Glad to have made it through such a deep dark crack in the earth, Jesse
Past the "Gates of the Piaxtla" we made a few more
sieves and then finally started making good time. Exhausted physically
and emotionally by the turmoil of such a journey, we setup a nice camp
in the afternoon before a sudden wind picked up and blew in the first
storm of our trip. As rain pummeled down we were thankful that the
river and weather had graced us with fortuitous circumstances and let
us pass through unscathed.
First rain in a week during monsoon
season. We got lucky.
Glad it's over, a rare image of the
In the morning we packed up camp and made the final,
kilometer push to town, where we'd begin our prolonged journey home.
Finding lodgings in town and looking
forward to a hot shower.
Leaving the next morning, views of the river canyon made us all
appreciate the fact that we had not been forced to attempt hiking out.