We just finished a 7-day trip down the Rio Verde/Rio Sirupa near Madera in the state of Chihuahua. What started out as creeking on the Rio Verde (estimated 200 cfs) was Grand Canyon style boating on the Sirupa with all the rain! Check out the pictures below for a comparison.
This is a beautiful canyon trip with some fun rapids and some scary ones! Pared Izquierda, even at low water turned out to be easily runnable over three small drops down the center. It was still about 30 feet wide most of the way, narrowing to under 20 feet at the bottom.
Ardilly was rather nasty looking. The top lateral (must run) forces directly into the wall on the right which could definitely result in a flip in our light cats. The currents below are very squirrelly and a swim here would be very dangerous. You could go very deep and the bedrock is full of scalloped holes and passages. We elected to portage on river right which was fairly easy over the flat bedrock (would be covered at high water?) and then down a steep slope to the water. It took about an hour and a half to get both boats around.
The next major challenge was Cascada Riito, just downstream from the Rio Riito which added quite a bit of black water (silt). The cascada is a break in the bedrock at the top of a mini gorge. The drop would be disastrous to swim with all the jagged bedrock. Definitely runnable at the level we had with a large boat. The hydraulics would wreak havoc with out light boats and it was relatively easy to float down the pool (again over flat bedrock) on river left and then carry to the pool below. It took about an hour to portage both boats.
By then, it was raining in earnest most of the days and the river continued to rise, and rise, and rise! By the time we got to Cascada Sirupa we had several thousand cfs in the Sirupa. This was a serious cascada at this flow. What normally would have been a serious Class V drop on river right with easier passages to the left or a relatively easy portage over the bedrock on the left was now completely covered by water. The main drop was still big Class V (maybe a chute around on far right) and the easier passages were now raging torrents with serious reversals. It definitely looked like a portage, but how, with the cliffs on the left? Fortunately I felt a far left run at the top drop would be feasible, if the other 4 drops would go. We spent considerable time checking this out by hiking/climbing along the left. Luckily there was a sneak route on far left that avoided the gnar in the middle of all the remaining drops. Whew! I ran both boats down the top drop while Lacey set safety and then we scooted them over the bedrock into the sneak route and continued on. We were so glad to have Cascada Sirupa behind us.
The rest of the rapids proved to be big water Class IIIs, with some good waves and interesting hydraulics, particularly at “Boulders.” The black stripe canyon was short and beautiful as the sun came out about then. The take out at Aguas Termales Huapoca was great. Just don’t miss the eddy/beach or you’re headed into the Class V Guynopa gorge below!
The combination of an easy shuttle, beautiful canyons, mix of small and big water, mix of enjoyable and scary rapids, a couple of relatively easy portages, and great take out made for a great trip. Enjoy the shower at Aguas Termales Huapoca, it’s the best!