Veracruz, Mexico, is famous among kayakers for its network of unforgiving waterfalls that gush through dense jungle foliage. It’s in this place — a site that even some of the most veteran kayakers avoid — that Dane Jackson finds paradise.
Jackson got the kayaking bug from his dad, Eric Jackson, who was a member of the USA Kayaking Team from 1989 to 1998 and competed in the 1992 Olympics. The younger Jackson is currently sponsored by Red Bull and GoPro, and has spent the last few months training for the 2015 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships in late August. Though the event is hosted by Canada this year, on the Ottawa River, Jackson has trained extensively in Uganda on the Nile River, citing the stream’s wide, unrelenting flow that mimics the waves he expects from the Ottawa.
Still, the Mexican rivers and waterfalls Jackson traverses here are in a league of their own. Those narrow chutes offer thrills and danger that translate through his GoPros with each sudden drop. It’s clear why a kid from Tennessee keeps heading south of the border.