Tomata 1

After kayaking so much over the previous two weeks, showing up once and not running it because I was sick, I knew my last day in Mexico was the day for Tomata 1. This is the classic big waterfall in Mexico and I’ve had a picture of it on my desk at school that I’ve looked at for months now. It’s an absolutely beautiful waterfall. It drops from about 60 feet with the calmest entrance you could imagine. Tomata 1 is the definition of a pool to pool drop. The day we went to run it about 20 people from Aventurec showed up to watch us which added a bit of extra pressure to the already difficult waterfall. The drop itself may look straightforward, but there is a lot more than meets the eye. The immediate, 90 degree angle of the drop makes it hard to get and maintain the right angle of entry. It all comes down to the moment you roll over the lip, the moment of truth where you set your last stroke and decide to pull it through or hold it. Now comes the hardest part of running waterfalls, waiting. You have to stare down to the bottom of the waterfall, spotting your landing, waiting for the right moment to tuck up or throw your paddle. If you pull your last stroke, tuck up, throw your paddle or move too early, you’re very likely to land flat or on your head.

There are two commonly run lines on Tomata 1 and I opted for the center line because, even though you land just a few feet from the rocks at the bottom, the landing looked much softer and the lip looked a little more forgiving than the left line. My good friend who I met in Chile last year, Seth Ashworth, and I had a quick game of rock-paper-scissors to decide who was to go first. He won and we both suited up to run the beast. After he disappeared over the lip, I waited about 20 seconds to drop in so I could try to rescue him or any of his gear if there was a problem. Coming up to the lip, I knew I wanted to use the left to right momentum of the water just above the lip to push my kayak right into the left side of a curler that’s barely visible from above. I took a few back strokes and lined it up just right, found the right patch of water, got pushed into the curler, leaned forward and planted my last stroke. I waited as long as I could, knowing that I was just where I wanted to be, threw my paddle and fell into the pillowy soft goodness at the bottom.

Moment of truth.

The moment of truth.

Have to hold that stroke. Photo by Brett Barton.

Have to hold that stroke. Photo by Brett Barton.

The full scene. Photo by Patrick Heindel.

The full scene. Photo by Patrick Heindel.
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And follow him on Instagram @patrickheindel

Obligatory after waterfall selfie.

Obligatory after waterfall selfie.

After you run the waterfall, that’s where the fun really begins. You make sure your crew is good to go and then have to run a little 8 footer one person at a time and land in the pool above directly Tomata 2, probably the 2nd stoutest waterfall I’ve ever seen (behind the Dirty Gerd in Chile). From here, you have to sketchily traverse across the slippery rock and line each kayak down to the lip of Tomata 2. Then you attach these boats to the ropes you set before running the waterfall to hoist them up the cliff and then you have to climb up that same cliff. It’s not the hardest climbing I’ve ever done, not that I’m much of a climber, but you are literally climbing on slippery, sketchy rocks at the lip of Tomata 2. One slip and you might fall another 80 feet down to the pool below. But thankfully we’re all experts at what we do, so we had no problems. Then it’s just a quick hike through a banana plantation back to the cars.

Easy day.

The lip of Tomata 2 and Calob Adams making his way up and out of the gorge.

The lip of Tomata 2 and Calob Adams making his way up and out of the gorge. You have to climb up the crack just to his left.

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