Archive for August, 2010

A week after the El Salvador-Honduras trip, I teamed up with the Guatemala Rafting team (Maarten Bleijerveld, Andrew Hawley, and Logan Hartle) for a week to find some fun stuff in Guatemala. Luckily with all the rain we’ve had this year, that wasn’t too hard. We stayed within 100 miles of Antigua, mostly on the Pacific coast except for a 1st descent on a hidden piece of the Río Motagua.

On my last trip report I wrote “things went pretty smoothly”. That was not the case this time. Briefly:

  • Coordination. The plan was to meet at a bridge in central Guatemala. Well, the bridge had been swept away 2 months ago in a flood. So the boys crossed the 5000 cfs river with their bags inside.
  • Illness. The first night Andrew ended up testing positive for not one tropical disease (dengue fever), not two (hepatitis A), but three (typhoid fever).
  • Vehicle. We broke a weld on a shock support, so the ‘ole 4Runner was out of commission for a day (so we used the local “chicken buses” that day).
  • Boats. After cracking 2 boats on the last trip, I cracked another one on this trip (Pyranha Micro).
  • Roads. This year’s rains have been hard on the put-in roads. We never even made it to the put-in of a couple of the runs I had planned.
  • Floods! And Class VI! On the very last run of the trip (1st descent) Logan and I watched the water come up on us during a mini-flash flood. We continued anyway and got to a rapid of extreme consequence and bailed on the not-fully-scoutable/under-a-log line. The portage was of hellish proportions so we opted to hike out without the boats (2 hours of continuous climbing through bamboo thickets which was better than the vertical walls on the other side of the canyon) but we got stuck out overnight anyway, completely unprepared. We fought off mosquitoes and shivers all night, found a dirt road hiked out the rest of the way in the morning, and then went back in at 11:00 with four friendly locals for a 6-hour ordeal down-and-up with the boats.

Still we managed to get in some decent boating! Here’s the itinerary:

  • Bottom bit of Río Motagua. It was huge (5000 cfs) and probably the highlight of the trip. It was a first descent and from Google Earth I knew we would see some big stuff. We portaged several V+/VI and ran some super fun IV+/V-.
  • Pantaleón. This creek drops continuously over the freshest volcanic sand around.
  • Ocosito. The narrow creeky canyons and “blind alleys” were as fun as ever. All the lower crevasses were blocked with boulders so had to be portaged.
  • Nahualate. This classic raft run was running high and didn’t let up top to bottom.
  • Cutzán. More granite boulders than you can shake a paddle at in this creek.
  • Xayá (upper Coyolate). 1st descent. We paddled through some amazing canyons before we reached the class VI. If the big log ever flushed out maybe there’s a line there.

As always, all the rivers will eventually be described and mapped on

Below you can enjoy some photos:

1. Río Motagua. Andrew heading down after the 1st scout (photo GS)

2. Río Motagua. Greg and Logan picking their routes (photo MB)

3. Río Ocosito. Logan about to let Maarten go (photo GS)


4. Río Xayá. Nice canyon (photo LH)

5. Río Xayá. Logan poses with the guys who saved our asses (photo GS)

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