Kim and I got a new toy a few months ago, a Wilderness Systems Northstar Tandem. I sold a few of these when I worked at Southwind, and I was pleased to see that they had fixed a few issues with the Northstar primarily their predilection for oilcanning. We’d paddled it a couple time locally, but were eager to get it on a multi-day trip. The kind of trip it was designed for.
We’ve had many offers to join Jerry on trips. Jerry is a unbelievably active septuagenarian. He used to do a little guiding for Southwind, but mostly I know him as a regular at San Onofre, where he absolutely rips on a waveski, 3 or so days a week. He’s been trying to get Kim and I to join him on his annual trips to go canyoneering in Zion. Awesome stuff, and truly an example of what good living can help provide.
Anyway, I’m getting off track. Jerry was putting together a group to paddle the Black Canyon section of the Colorado River, below Hoover Dam. Kim and I were eager to join. It was a crazy, crazy week with work and travel, and I found myself on the eve of the trip launch without having even started thinking about packing. I load the kayak, kim packs some gear, I pack some gear, we hope we’re not bringing too much or too little. Normally I’d test pack the boat, but there is no time for that. Everything gets thrown in the truck, we stop by Trader Joe’s for food, and we’re heading east. It’s supposed to be about a 5 hour drive, but we get a late start, I’m tired, and there are lots of coffee stops and a few catnaps. We end up pulling into Willow Beach Marina just 100 minutes or so before our appointed launch time. I catch a few Z’s in the bed of the truck, but am fitful. I rise, and pack.
Despite a less than stellar start, everything else about the trip is stellar. Our group consists of:
Geoff (me), Kim, Jerry, Bob (a amazingly fit octogenarian, who also waveskis regularly), Herb, Cindy and Mike. 60 years from oldest to youngest, but everyone got along great, paddled hard and it was awesome.
Day 1 was fun and pretty. We launched from Willow Beach, and paddled miles up the Colorado River. The water was crystal clear, and the canyon got prettier and prettier as we got further upstream. The water was moving, but it wasn’t too hard to paddle against. In a few spots it required some fast paddling, but we made decent time moving up to the Arizona Camp. We landed there, and set up camp. After a delicious lunch, we hiked up a short way up a narrow canyon to enjoy the hotsprings in the narrow canyon. After a long soak, it was back to camp. We hung out, talked, and most wandered off to bed pretty early.
Day 2 – We rose, packed for the day, and headed upstream. The canyon get getting prettier and prettier. There were a few more spots that were challenging to get through in the kayak. A few hours later, we were at the base of the Hoover Dam. As big as it looks from the top, it looks even bigger from the bottom. Impressive. We visited the Sauna Cave, one of the more unique features on the river. It is long, deep cave. Just tall enough to almost walk upright, and as wide as a hallway. There is a hotspring flowing through it, and it creates a crazy, neat, almost natural sauna. Very cool. This is the turn around point for the paddle, so we started heading back down stream, with stops for some more cool side hikes and more hot springs. Including one that was a waterfall. A waterfall hotspring. Too cool.
Back to camp. Another pleasant evening. Day 3 we rose again, and it was a quick paddle back downstream to willow beach. Such a great weekend.
After we loaded the kayaks, we drove towards Vegas. Kim and I decided to stop and tour the Hoover Dam, which was interesting, and stopped for a meal in Vegas. A fabulous weekend, great paddling and great company.