Out of all the cañoning routes in Costa Rica, Nonequito must be the one I’ve spent the most time pondering. From the very incomplete list of routes around Turrialba it was rated as one of the best, finding it however wasn’t so easy. Most of the cañón locations were “approximate”, and most local canyoners I talked to, hadn’t visited Nonequito… The description on Chris Brenner’s website, for once, didn’t seem to fit…
With a guess at where the cañón was, I left Desiree’s house with minimal camping gear and very minimal cañoning gear: Just a rope, some mallions, a single carabiner with descender and some webbing (with which to make a harness). I walked from La Suiza, past Canadá and La Cruzada… Eventually I tired and waited for a bus… An hour must have past… I started thumbing rides and after a while scored a lift all the way to Pejibaye! Yay!
I asked around town, but no one had heard of Nonequito… I headed off to search. I was supprised at how many people where in their houses… A boy was openly peeing through the bars protecting the patio.
Hiding under the bridge over Río Pejibaye for five mins, the rain eased and I crossed a second bridge spanning Río La Mata. I figured the third bridge over Río Gato (9.81359, -83.68822) must be the start of the approach described by Chris – despite it lying over 3km from town.
The sugar cane was thick around me and I soon reached an ankle deep ford just upstream of where a major tributary entered the Río Gato (9.80734, -83.68781). I felt like I was in the right place. The camino continued up into the mountains. Soon, upstream of another river junction, a lesser rd passed through a gate and crossed the right branch (looking upstream) (9.80546, -83.68406). With luck the left branch would be Nonequito!
It was about two in the afternoon; it got dark around five… I made the call to camp for the night.
In the morning I was visited by some curious cows. I lazed in my tent. It started raining… Then pouring. Enthusiasm was low. The once clean stream beside me turned a dirty brown, small pozas forming on the grazed land around me. Finally I roused myself. I put on my wetsuit, got my makeshift tape (webbing) harness ready, emerged to hide some things in the bamboo and began sloshing my way up the farm trail that had now transformed into a river.
The rd switched backed up the ridge between the two streams, soon passing very close to Nonequito. I used this point to exit the river (9.80668, -83.68061). After climbing a bit higher, the road contoured to meet the stream, ending where a small ck created a deep gash in the ridge. Instead of heading back, I perhaps foolishly decided to follow it up to regain the apex of the ridge. Whilst slow the ck was rather pleasant with a few small waterfalls… I did get stung by some poison ivy though 😦
Clawing up the last steep section, I emerged onto a well established trail. I decided to head back down to see where it joined… (If anyone is reading this to run the route, turn up the ridge here : 9.80579, -83.67945).
The trail was well defined and flattened out roughly with the river again very close to your left. For me, the obvious roar made its presence unmistakable, but you should be able to see it without any worries too. Dropping down at a recent land slide, I entered the murky river. Trying to climb around the edge of the first pool, a rock broke off and I was soon swimming to reach the other side.
Quickly I arrived at the first serious drop. I decided to avoid the flow and rapped off a tree CR. I swam out of the pool, and after retrieving my rope enjoyed the two waterfalls dropping in close proximity.
I found established anchors for the next two drops. P3 o CL, P4 xx CR, but downclimbed or skirted around them both. (Bolting seemed very unessacary in this stream where trees were plentiful and escapes essentially ever present).
Soon I arrived at the top of P5 xx 16m CL. I used a tree as the anchor and dropped down a very pretty waterfall, my favourite of the route.
I thought the excitement was over, but the creek again narrowed and dropped down a couple more picturesque cascades. Both no more than about 15m.
About 700m of creek walking followed. At this point the road was very close (noted on the way in) and the animals heading to the stream to drink have created a fairly obvious trail. From here it was a short walk back to my camp and then back into town.
I walked back to the main highway and got a ride to La Cruzada with a friendly family. Delayed by a volcano enthusiast, I eventually caught a bus back to La Suiza. I checked some photos online and was now certain I had found Nonequito.