Rio Valles (Cascadas Micos)
|Stretch:||First Hydraulic Facility to ranch Agua Azul|
|Difficulty:||Class III to IV|
|Gradient:||450 fpm for a 1/3 of a mile then 110|
|Take-out:||Pago Pago (Park) or Ranch Agua Azul|
|Featured in Video Twenty-Three|
I don’t know what to say, after 42 hours in the car straight. We hopped out and the Cascadas Micos greeted us. This has to be one of the most beautiful and boatable places and it is easily accessible to boot. 100 yards down steps and you catch your first view of the 70 foot ”Torro” drop, thundering down into a beautiful pool followed by another 12 footer which is then followed by 6 more equally nice drops. The green canopy of trees contrasts with the brown travertine formations and clear blue water to give you the distinct impression that you are not in California anymore. Absolutely breathtaking.
In 6 days of boating, we boated the Micos 5 times. The first day all we did was one run despite the fact that we arrived at put-in at 9:30 am. But I think you can understand that we were very tired from our drive and upon reaching our take-out set up camp (at our take-out), ordered a beer from the bar (yes a bar at take-out too) and began to nap while sitting around a camp fire. On other days we would come back from other rivers and boat a Micos before it got dark. Without even trying you can complete a lap with shuttle in an hour. Your first time down however, it takes considerably longer to run the river. The horizon lines look huge, due to several lines on each drop, everyone takes some time to talk themselves into the biggest and best of them, plus all the time spent gawking at the view looking back upstream takes its time.
I am actually at a loss for words on this description; it is a place that every kayaker should visit. Along with sharing its beauty with you, it will teach you how to run drops while in a controlled situation and give you the most fun you have ever had on class III drops.
As I eluded to above, we took out at our camp. This was made possible because when we first arrived at put-in we met another small group of boaters, Dana and Devin from Pennsylvania and Polo their guide who works for Agua Azul (also called Cascadas Micos). Polo shared the location of the Agua Azul Ranch with us and decided our first night would be spent there. We were planning on camping the first night anyways, so this was as good as any. Josh set our shuttle with his very little motorbike and while we waited we ran laps on the first drop. I have now run one rapid in a R2 and have swam as many. Good fun though. Once Josh got back we set off down the river for what was a great start to our week in Mexico. At the end of the day we boated about a mile through the jungle and arrived at our take-out. After we pulled our boats 10 feet out of the water, took our gear off we unloaded the truck and set camp right there on the water. Grant Amaral (Author of the Idaho Guide Book) owns the ranch and has set up an amazing place. Outfitted with cabanas for those who need more luxurious accommodations, running water, hot showers, flush toilet, and onsite cook whom will cook 3 meals a day for you if you request them in advance… and she makes the best Tamales not to mention her guacamole). For their website see www.aguaazul.com and for more praise and info see the Travel and Lodging write-up. Anyways, we loved the camp so much or plan to move around over the week was abandoned and we called Ranch Agua Azul Home for the full trip, we figured why move on when this camp was everything and more then we had hoped for. Moving along, time for rapids…
Also a special thanks to Diane Gaydos, Steve Schmitt, and Heather Bowen for sharing their pictures of our trip.
For some more great photos, check this website out: Sierra Rios
- Torro (V+). The 70 foot drop is above put-in and has been run. It has also broken many backs and been the cause for several air-lifts out. It is a beautiful sight though.
First (III+). A nice 10-12 footer. There was a little reversal on the left side of the right channel. As always with travertine, beware of caves behind the drops.
Second (III). Easy and fun 8-10 footer. We tended to run on the far right side where there was a vertical drop. There was also a nice rolling line on the far left side.
Another (III). A ledge with a bit of a pocket hole in the concave part. Run center right or left.
Toboggan (III). A short slide that twists you into a nice short pool.
Cenote (III+). Several lines, far right is a 25 foot vertical drop, center is a sloping slide into a 6-15 foot boof, and the left side is a steep slope into a 20 foot or so drop. Running center was great and easy, picking up speed going down the slide until the ground drops out from under you and you free fall towards the pool below.
The Bean Tree (III-IV). Easier lines exist on the right where shallow slides lead to a ledge hole best to run on far right. The best line however is on the far left. A sloping slide fades you left to right across a 10-12 footer when hit right feels oh so good and lands you in a small pot hole before exiting over a shallow slide into a potentially stick hole. Best rapid on the run hands down.
- You can either take out at the park just below the last drop, or if you are camping along the river at a place such as Agua Azul, continue down through the lush forest for a mile of very pleasant class II+ to III- boating. For Agua Azul you can just stay in the deep channels all the way to camp, no need to scrape down the shallow right channels as we found out after our first run.
Take-out: From Ciudad Valles take Highway 70 west. Turn right a few miles out of town towards Cascadas Micos. You will drive through a number of small towns. You will start to see pictures of watefalls and stores with life jackets, it is time to turn right on a decent dirt road. After a few hundred feet turn right on the amazingly shitty dirt road and follow a few hundred yards down to Ranch Agua Azul. If you continue straight in stead of the bad road right turn you end up at Pago Pago (I think, didn’t actually go myself).
Put-in: Head back to the cement road and head upriver. You drive over a waterfall splashing down over the road, pass the Mother Mary Shrine, and head up the hill. At the top you will see a small cement structure, there is parking on either side of the road, though it is limited and there are massive sugar cane trucks constantly squeezing by you.
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