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whitewater kayaking in Mexico
Student kayaking in Mexico during Thanksgiving visit
>> View video of whitewater kayaking

UTSA hosts Thanksgiving whitewater excursion

By Eliot Howard, Assistant Director for Outdoor Pursuits, and David Dunnington, Student Coordinator, Campus Recreation

(Dec. 17, 2008)--Five UTSA students had an unforgettable Thanksgiving adventure whitewater kayaking in Central Mexico with UTSA Campus Recreation staffers and former Olympic kayaker Ben Kvanli.

The UTSA Outdoor Pursuits program hosted the students on the 12-hour drive to a little-known whitewater destination near Ciudad Valles. The Mexican state of San Luis Potosi is lush and mountainous with deep, rugged canyons. We paddled several sections of the emerald-green Rio Micos, which cascades under a dense, bromeliad-laden forest canopy. We saw exotic tropical birds and kept our eyes and ears open for the monkeys, which give the river its name.

Mostly though, we kept our attention focused on the incredible whitewater paddling. The limestone canyons in the region are lined with smooth travertine deposits from the spring waters that supply most of the flow. The resulting river channels provide "pool/drop" rapids that are ideal for beginner and intermediate whitewater kayakers -- big, exciting class III whitewater without a lot of the river hazards typically associated with rapids of this level.

Prepared with pre-trip skills, practice and a strong spirit of adventure, we followed our guides off 20- and 30-foot waterfalls. That much "air time" gives you a chance to reflect on what you're really thankful for.

>> View a photo gallery from the Mexico whitewater trip.

We experienced many natural wonders through the course of the excursion and filled each day more thoroughly than we could have imagined possible. The rush of the nearby Micos woke paddlers each morning to a lush forest cloaked in dense fog. We explored a cave complete with bountiful stalactites.

We explored Edward James' famous sculpture gardens of Las Posas in Xilitla and rappelled a jungle waterfall. We had adventures in border crossing, driving through crazy traffic and negotiating meals with street vendors. At every point along the way, there was wonderful hospitality from the locals. Our first international trip was a milestone for the Outdoor Pursuits program and will be long remembered by each of us who went. Now we can't wait for the busy spring trip schedule to get started.

>> Visit the UTSA Outdoor Pursuits Web site for details on upcoming trips.

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