Mexican whitewater madness: Photos from Michoacán

The Michoacán kayak expedition took Rafa Ortiz and Dane Jackson down incredible first descents.
By Kevin McAvoy

Episode one of the epic kayak expedition that Rafa Ortiz, Dane Jackson, Joel Kowalski, Seth Ashworth and Juanito de Uguarte undertook in Mexico is now live on the First Descent: Michoacán site. Check out the action in the video, along with photos from the first few days of the trip below.

Captions by Rafa Ortiz and John Rathwell.

Pro tip: use your keyboard to jump between photos
Rafa Ortiz in Tlapacoyan, Mexico
Kayaker Rafa Ortiz paddles through rapids in Tlapacoyan, Mexico in 2013
Rafa Ortiz in Tlapacoyan, Mexico © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Dane Jackson, Tlapacoyan
Kayaker Dane Jackson negotiates rapids in Tlapacoyan, Veracruz, Mexico in 2013
Dane Jackson, Tlapacoyan We call this drop 'The Pooper' or 'El Poopito.' Dane is about to enter a spot that's about as narrow as his kayak and get shot out like Montezuma’s revenge. This one resulted in a trip to the hospital and some stitches in the face. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Out of the van, into the river
Kayakers Rafa Ortiz and Dane Jackson on a Michoacan Kayak Expedition in 2013
Out of the van, into the river Arriving at new rivers is like being a kid at Christmas. The crew jumps out of the van and runs to the edge of the river to see what they've found. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Rafa and Dane on the Jah-lacingo
Kayakers Rafa Ortiz and Dane Jackson on the Jah-lacingo river in Veracruz, Mexico in 2013
Rafa and Dane on the Jah-lacingo Endless slides mark our path through the jungle. Rafa and Dane on the best smallest river ever: the Jah-lacingo in Veracruz. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Joel Kowalski and Rafa Ortiz
Kayakers Rafa Ortiz and Joel Kowalski on a Michoacan Kayak Expedition in 2013
Joel Kowalski and Rafa Ortiz Just another walk in the park -- after a day of hucking class-five rapids. Most of Mexico's rivers are deep in canyons. That means you're in for a long, uphill hike after paddling. The load, with kayaks, safety gear and food, can weigh up to 60-70lbs. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Dane Jackson drops a waterfall in Tlapacoyan
Kayaker Dane Jackson drops a waterfall in Tlapacoyan, Veracruz, Mexico in 2013
Dane Jackson drops a waterfall in Tlapacoyan Freefall is pretty special; time freezes as you await impact. The feeling of that void in your stomach – you just have to try it and you'll never stop wanting it again. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Jackson in the jungle
Kayaker Dane Jackson on a Michoacan Kayak Expedition in 2013
Jackson in the jungle Is this the right trail? Can anyone see the river? Where's the machete? River exploration in the deep, thick jungles of Mexico is never easy. Is that spider poisonous? © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Big Banana
Kayakers Rafa Ortiz and Dane Jackson and friends at Big Banana Falls in Mexico in 2013
Big Banana Hard to imagine a better place for a gathering of friends. Looking up at one of the finest masterpieces of nature, the crew reminisces about Rafa's epic descent of Big Banana Falls. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Breakdown
Kayakers Rafa Ortiz, Joel Kowalski and Dane Jackson on a Michoacan Kayak Expedition in 2013
Breakdown The van breaks down shortly after entering Michoacán, right where we enter areas of high drug cartel conflict. Great start to the trip. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Push on
Kayakers Rafa Ortiz, Joel Kowalski and Dane Jackson on a Michoacan Kayak Expedition in 2013
Push on We've come this far... there's no stopping now. The crew pushes the van uphill to a local mechanic. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Blending in
Kayakers Joel Kowalski and Dane Jackson on a Michoacan Kayak Expedition in 2013
Blending in The key to staying safe is 'Mexican camouflage!' Joel and Dane do their best to blend in on their first day in Uruapan, Mexico. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Nothing to see here
Kayakers Joel Kowalski and Dane Jackson on a Michoacan Kayak Expedition in 2013
Nothing to see here Dane and Joel fit into the local scene as we wait for the van – which still had all of the boats – to be fixed. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Searching for urban whitewater
Kayakers Rafa Ortiz, Joel Kowalski and Dane Jackson on a Michoacan Kayak Expedition in 2013
Searching for urban whitewater Hiking through town looking like astronauts to the locals while we try to find a place to put in on the Rio Cupatitzio, which runs right through downtown Uruapan. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Rio Cupatitzio
Kayaker Dane Jackson on a Michoacan Kayak Expedition in 2013
Rio Cupatitzio Urban paddling hazards – what is coming out of the pipe? Dane runs the opening rapid of the Rio Cupatitzio. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Rafa runs the Rio Cupatitzio
Kayaker Rafa Ortiz on a Michoacán Expedition in 2013
Rafa runs the Rio Cupatitzio The fact that the picture is cool doesn’t mean my line was. Sometimes you eat shit in the simplest of rapids, but sometimes the photo is on your side. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
City expedition
Kayakers Rafa Ortiz, Joel Kowalski and Dane Jackson on a Michoacán Kayak Expedition in 2013
City expedition Imagine everyone’s expressions as they watched a crew of kayakers descending their backyard river out of nowhere. As we headed downstream the locals kept trying to follow us from bridge to bridge, trying to figure out what we were up to. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
Roadside serenade
Kayakers Rafa Ortiz, Joel Kowalski and Dane Jackson on a Michoacán Kayak Expedition in 2013
Roadside serenade A casual day in Uruapan. © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool
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