Orizaba Ramblers

Steve Fassbinder watches Mehl play in the surf

Windmilling his kayak paddle into the breeze, Luc Mehl, 34, pulls onto the sandbar at the mouth of Mexico’s Rio Antigua and squints at the novelty of a seascape horizon in the hazy afternoon glare.  Two days of sleepless dysentery have drained Mehl’s prodigious vigor and his hands are blanched and clammy as we high-five. Still, he’s grinning with accomplishment in the salt air.

Eleven days earlier we’d set out pedaling bikes strapped with mountaineering and whitewater paddling gear in Cholula de Rivadavia, a ciudad sixty miles east of Mexico City. Without ever having visited Mexico before, Mehl composed a 220-mile bike/hike/packraft triathlon first to Pico de Orizaba (18,491 ft) and then descending through rainforest hamlets to a whitewater river. Now at sea level, we stand at the end of Mehl’s line. Continue reading

Yampa Dilly-Dallying

Sepperated by jobs in different states, Allison and I found time to meet for a quick river trip about half way between Leadville and Park City. The “Wild and Scenic” designation of the drainage seems a bit over-hyped; there wasn’t much “wild” about the river.

The dominant exports of the valley are coal-generated electricity and stuff made from cows. We had front row seats for a coal-burning plant about a mile long that took us a good chunk of the afternoon to drift around. Its high-tension wires radiated outwards, humming softly as we bobbed under them. Cows are omnipresent, and so are cow pies. And that’s ironic because it makes the assertive signage about packing out human waste from this fragile n’ pristine ecosystem seem like, well, a load of shit.

Getting past the fact that the Yampa is heavily impacted by the industries that utilize it, the trip was pleasant. Both Allison and I tend to gravitate towards vacations that make our jobs seem restful and so it was weird to hear myself say “relaxing gettaway” while planning the logistics. Indeed, it was a lazy, slow-moving, dozing-in-the-sunshine jaunt. In the dialect of about everyone I work with, it was suuuper, suuuper nice.