This past fall, I found myself drinking a delicious IPA across from Big-Water Bond as he slowly convinced me to purchase a ticket to Mexico city.
I’ve been traveling for the past 4 winters, I said. I’m tired of lugging my gear all over the world, I said. I just want to mountain bike and ski, I said.
“Don’t be an idiot. You like kayaking more than anything you just said!” Bond said.
Well…he did have a point.
The next thing I knew, I was typing my credit card info into the airline website. ENTER. Ding! Confirmed. Damn it! I did it again.
I was going to stay in the USA this fall, however, that sad puppy dog look on Big-Water Bonds face just screamed “COME HUCK WATER FALLS WITH ME!” I conceded, now I just needed to break the news to my girlfriend that I wouldn’t see her for over a month and pack my bag. What to pack?
All the usual suspects made it into the bag; pfd, helmet, spray skirt, etc. Everything, except for a paddle and a kayak, arguably two of the most important items when in the pursuit of going kayaking.
We would rent kayaks when we hit Tlapacoyan, a risky move due to the expensive break-it-and-you-buy-it policy. Some how we quantified and monetized the hassle of traveling with a boat, while ticking off some site seeing for 2 weeks prior to paddling. We justified renting kayaks and potentially busting them wide open on the high-speed rock sliding that would take place on the Alseseca. And oh did it take place!
I sat and stared at my Werner paddle. There it sat, over in the corner like a silent carbon fiber sentinel waiting to strike blows to holes and drops with deadly boofing precision. I thought of the oversized baggage prices at the airport. I considered looking like Gandalf for 2 weeks, tromping about the Yucatan with a staff of fiberglass. I was already going to be a clueless gringo in Mexico, that thumb was sore enough as it was. I lamented as I stared at my single duffel bag when a light bulb struck! “THE BREAKDOWN!” The king of all 4 piece paddles! THE WERNER POWERHOUSE 4 PIECE!!! I called CKS up and ordered an extra breakdown, seeing as how I already had one living in the back of my brand new Remix. (A depressing aside) My Remix which was, at the time, sitting outside with a huge hole melted in the hull from a shuttle trailer tire rubbing against it for over a mile. Feel my pain.
Between the both of us, Big Water Bond and I packed 4 Werner powerhouse 4-piece breakdown paddles throughout Mexico for a month in the bottom of our bags, 2 to be our full time paddles and the others for…well, to be spare paddles. Compared to traveling with a boat and 1-piece paddle, it was a breeze.
Once we clicked the shafts together, we paddled nearly everyday with our Werner 4-piece powerhouse paddles without taking them apart. Those paddles ruddered us through rock sliding the Alseseca. They held strong over and over while setting up for blind 25 footers on Big Banana, located in a deep and committing gorge of the Alseseca. They held together as we tried both throwing and holding onto our paddle during laps off of a 40’ waterfall. After multiple weeks of abuse, the blades did not look quite like they did fresh out of the box, but they didn’t skip a beat during our entire Mexico mission. There were a few other paddlers down there at the same time with pricey carbon fiber, one piece paddles…I think every single one of them came back as 2-piece paddles.