Tag Archives: river

SUPing Mexico: Overnight on the Santa Maria

This Original story was written by NRS Ambassador, Aaron Koch. Click Here to see his bio on NRS.com 

 

AaronKoch NRS Ambassador, Aaron Koch, flees the brutal temperatures of the States and seeks winter refuge in Mexico. With girlfriend in tow, Aaron sets out on his SUP to paddle the scenic Santa Maria River.

In my relentless search for places to escape the cold, I found Mexico. A refuge from the polar vortexes of the U.S. and a paddler’s paradise. The whitewater is so diverse that you need multiple river craft to enjoy it all! But we only had our SUPs.

The headwaters of the Santa Maria River lie in the semi-desert region between the states of Queretaro and San Luis Potosi. Flowing 150 miles from the Gulf of Mexico where it converges with multiple rivers, and finally meets the salt water. The Santa Maria has no dams and all 150 miles are excellent runnable whitewater. Five canyons, miles of class IV-V big water and a 315-foot waterfall from the Rio Gallinas make this a multi-day paddlers dream!

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We recently did the most upper stretch of Santa Maria on SUP boards. The upper stretch is a 12-mile scenic canyon float with one class IV rapid. Our plan was to put on in the afternoon and camp beside the class IV. Put-ins in Mexico are sometimes an adventure in itself. This particular part of the river is a favorite watering hole for local cattle.

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Heather and I paddled the Czar 6 and Baron 6 SUPs. The extra flotation of the six-inch thick boards comes in handy when carrying camping gear and food. I carried the mosquito net, hammock, rain fly, a jet boil stove and a K-pump. Heather packed the extra clothes, water filter and head lamps.

The first day of paddling equaled to a little more than an hour. We found a nice spot on an island just beside the portage. One of the amazing things about inflatable paddleboards is how comfortable they are to sleep on. Let out half the air and you have a huge therma-rest bed. (The Baron 6 sleeps two—if you’re friendly.)

To avoid any bug encounters during the night, I strung our hammock loosely over the board. This hammock has mosquito netting built in and also comes with a nice rain-fly. It looked like rain, so we used the fly as well.

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After a good night’s sleep, we re-inflated the board, took a nice river shower, and launched for the next eight-and-a-half miles of class II. A portion of the old Spanish Silver Train, an improvised trail used in the 16th and 17th centuries to run silver from Peru to Panama, runs along the river’s right side. Huge Sabino trees, over 500 years old, lined the river banks. The Sabino tree has one of the most impressive root systems I’ve ever seen, creating incredible erosion protection. As their roots grow and intertwine they become an unbreakable shoreline.

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As we moved farther into the canyon, the riverbed became very sandy. If you’re just learning to SUP, the sand offers cushioning for the inevitable falls. There are numerous springs that enter the river as waterfalls descend on river left. I counted at least five, and all were quite a bit warmer than the actual river water. As you can imagine, they are also full of incredible vegetation.

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This section of the Santa Maria passes through the historic town of Conca, Queretaro, where a Franciscan mission was built in the 1700s. There are four more, nearly identical, missions throughout the region. At one point the river banks to the right and you can turn and see the Conca mission. It’s just visible in front of Heather above the first row of trees.

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If you are looking for new ways to enjoy and explore using a paddle board, I highly recommend this overnight trip. SUPs are the true SUV of paddle sports. With the right board and dry equipment the experience is stress-free and much easier than I ever thought possible. It’s your own personal watercraft and bed rolled into one. Make sure the run isn’t too difficult, because the weight of your gear does affect how the board handles. I found that by moving back towards the tail balances things out and makes for a great workout too.

​I know it’s still cold in the States right now, so roll up those boards, grab some friends and head down to Mexico and see us. Water temps are in the 70s and there are plenty of enchiladas to share.

Gear Spotlight: Otentik Sunshade

We meet up with Ella at Surf Expo this year and got to talking. She was working the Otentik booth with a really cool product. The Otentik Sunshade is a simple, lightweight and quick way to get out of the sun while enjoying the outdoors. I instantly thought of 100s of different occasions I could have used this sunshade while camping, paddling, relaxing at the beach or just in the backyard around the pool.

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Otentik is a young Israeli start up, specializing in developing innovative lifestyle solutions. One of our recent and most useful products we have come up with is Otentik’s Sunshade. The product was released in2011, with great success around the world. No doubt the best solution for the beach: fast and easy to set up, lightweight and the most efficient protection from the sun.

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The Idea to develop Otentik occurred to us when we saw Parasol flying away on a windy afternoon at the beach. It took two years and several prototypes to find the ideal solution. The Otentik Sunshade’s user friendly design employs sand bags instead of stakes and can be used on any terrain. The sunshade is available in different colors, is light weight and easy to carry.

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The ease of use and versatility of this product lead to the development of the brand, Otentik. The Sunshade, and Otentik lifestyle, goes with us practically everywhere. It is a must have product for all the outdoors lovers. CLICK HERE to visit their website and read all about Otentik.

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Otentik Sunshade easy set up

Location Hot Spot: Weeki Wachee River, FL

Florida is known for its beautiful natural springs and crystal clear rivers. The Weeki Wachee River is one of those must see places in the state.

“The Seminole Indians named the spring “Weeki Wachee,” which means “little spring” or “winding river.” The spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found. Each day, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 74-degree water bubbles up out of subterranean caverns. Deep in the spring, the surge of the current is so strong that it can knock a scuba diver’s mask off. The basin of the spring is 100 feet wide with limestone sides and there, where the mermaids swim, 16 to 20 feet below the surface, the current runs a strong five miles an hour. It’s quite a feat for a mermaid to stay in one place in such a current.” – WeekiWachee.com

Mermaid_Chelsea_web-700x700 Yes… you read correctly… Mermaids! Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is the only place in the world to see mermaids.
Click here to read more about the State Parks Mermaids. 

OK… Back to the paddleboarding. I put in at the state  park where the friendly staff at Paddling Adventures showed me the map and went over the rules of the river. I walked my BIC 12’6″ Wing down the crushed stone path and into the crystal clear waters of the river.  After pushing off I immediately began to see all kinds of fish and wildlife. Your not allowed to paddle all the way to the head springs so after a 300 yard paddle upstream I turned around and began floating with the swift 5 mph current.

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Even with the overcast day the water had a deep blue color and the bottom was easily visible. I had to turn around about 1.5 miles down to make it back before they locked the gate at 3pm. I’ll be back to paddle and make sure to give myself enough time to enjoy the 5.5 miles to Rodgers Park.

If you dont have your own board you can always rent one from SUP Weeki, a local business who rents and shuttles on the Weeki Wachee River.

Click the photos below to see more of the quick afternoon SUP on the Weeki Wachee River.

GEAR SPOTLIGHT: New 2015 “Rivershred” Inflatable SUP

Have you tried the Badfish MCIT? Did you think it was cool, but still had a few features that needed improvement for your whitewater expeditions? Well, that’s what we thought. It seems that Boardworks has really listened to their customers and made some sweet changes to their already great inflatable. They just released their new design, “The Rivershred”, which has some new features to make it the ultimate whitewater SUP.

We can’t wait to get our hands on one to try out.
If you have, let us know what you think!

New Whitewater SUP Inflatable Board…the Rivershred from Badfish SUP on Vimeo.

New for 2015 the Rivershred is the evolution of the proven MCIT platform, designed specifically for river running. At 9’6, 40” wide and built on a 6” thick drop stitch platform, the Rivershred was put through extensive testing by the Badfish pro team in Colorado whitewater in order to create the most technically advanced, inflatable river running SUP, ever. – SUP Connect