February 06, 2013

Adam Haydock Rio Blanco river canyon Puerto Rico
Pat and I woke up early Thursday morning so we could get to the waterfall cascade hike before the afternoon when flash floods typically can happen. In Puerto Rico flash floods can happen at anytime but since we went in the dry season the threat of flash floods was minimized. We got a ride to the bottom of Rio Blanco which is called “EL Hippie” this has a pool of water with a canyon right above the first waterfall. 
Rio Blanco Puerto Rico
We ascended the jungle trail until we got to the drop in of the Rio Blanco. The boulders were large and slippery, very slippery. One wrong move and you can slip crack your bones wash down the river over a waterfall or get keyed in with the swift current in some sections. We wore 5.10 canyoneer boots which have a sticky rubber that will give good traction even with slippery conditions. I wanted to be extra careful taking pat upstream as swift water is not something he is familiar with and this hike is not for beginners. (you have been warned).We made it to the confluence of the Rio Cubuy and the Rio Icacos which had a series of large swift water waterfalls, hydraulic boils and deep water swims which required traversing at times to make sure we had the right angle of approach. Some boulders we had to use webbing and help each other to counterbalance ourselves to leverage the other over boulders.
Adam Haydock on the Rio Icaco river canyon Puerto Rico
It was beautiful to be immersed in the rain forest swimming in 65 degree water with the temp at a humid 75 degrees. We kept going until we got to the main waterfall. This water fall you can see from the road 10 miles away and according to the map is 500 feet up and it looked like it was on a 30 to a 40 degree angle at points. We had lunch and decided to flank the falls to the right. We found ourselves bouldering over rocks and thick vegetation that had skin irritation properties, thorns, and in between these slippery rocks were small cavern like holes where one wrong foothold you can go tumbling down stuck in a very hard to reach jungle. “And this was going so well” I said before we found ourselves in this hell hole. We decided to turn back and quickly lost our traverse so we have to overcome each boulder, negotiating and planning each step and we moved. One step I took my foot went through the shrubbery and caught myself before slipping into one of these nightmares. Knowing the river is to our right we made a b line to the river and found ourselves half way up on a boulder that acted as a shelf over the waterfall, “how did we get so lucky” We got our bearing and continues to ascend the waterfall to a section ¾ of the way up and had another break to talk about what just happened and to continue our plan. 
We continued back to the right and found the section was too slippery so we went right and WHAA…found a small trail through the other side of the river. This section of the rain forest felt like a highway compared to the left side. We made a hasty climb to the top and meandered around the bend to descend back into the water on top of the water fall. We continued to encounter smaller waterfall challenges but were able to overcome those challenges and make it to the pipeline trail in good time. Wow what an amazing hike that was cascading route finding, planning and great team work. We followed the easy pipeline trail to the top of the road where we walked back down and got back to our camp. We dried everything out and re packed everything for the next section of the trip (the caves).



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