Sometime between the time I scheduled last Friday's post and the time we hit the river, I learned that we weren't going 32 miles. We were going 42 miles. serious.
Sometimes I'm not sure what my dear hubby thinks I'm capable of doing.
Friday we left Phoenix with our willing and every so helpful drivers, Alyx and Tarron. They were bringing the vehicles back to Phoenix for us after dropping us off at the river. We met Dean and Keilah in Camp Verde, climbed in their rig with all of our goods and tootled off down a mountain road I'd never traversed to our starting spot at the Childs Power Plant. Well, it was a power plant at one time. There was so much prickly pear along the way that I was having thoughts of turning the power plant into a prickly pear processing factory .. until I saw it.
We made it to our starting spot, Jari and I got our kayaks inflated and we all got our gear loaded.
Don't we look so fresh and ready for an explore?!
Note: all photos are taken through a plastic waterproof camera bag.
We had some seriously quick learning to do. The river was low and the more narrow the river became, the more challenging it could become. Rocks, trees, bushes, bends, rapids all led to kayak tippings and dumpings. It didn't take much to learn that everything needed to be tied in. Dean & Keilah lost their tent poles before we ever set up the first night.
Sometimes we dawdled .. catching the views in our phone camera lenses.
Not another soul in sight. Just the quiet of nature and the occasional sounds of approaching rapids.
If you lived on this river your entire life, you might never know that water can be crystal clear and shining blue.
Cruising along ...
We did find some clear water. Dean & Keilah had the map downloaded on their phones and Jari had his GPS along, but it was still challenging to figure out where exactly we were sometimes.
Off to explore and find out where this trickle was coming from ....
A beautiful pool of cool and clear refreshing water. The Verde water that had been raining into our kayaks was warm. The equivalent of bath water. We didn't care. The day was warm, somewhere in the 90's, and the sun was intense. Any splashing from rapids became welcome and taught us something we hadn't known. We were going to be wet this entire trip. Sometimes sitting in inches of water for quite a while ... and appreciating it!
This lovely young couple chose to do this trip with us, found babysitters for their kidlets and signed up for an unexpected workout of a lifetime! I'm so glad they joined us.
I think that I expected we would just get on the river and it would be moving steadily. I sort of didn't expect that we might spend a good deal of time traversing this type of thing. There weren't many that were quite this interesting, but we spent a lot of time getting in and out of kayaks. Pulling them over rocks or around areas that weren't safe to navigate while paddling. I'm afraid I probably did some grumbling, not so nicely either, that Jari had to edit out of the GoPro video. I'm not a couch potato, but I really don't have an athletic bone in my body!! After hoisting myself in and out, in and out, in and out ... you can just imagine.
We certainly had plenty of times where the river was calm and beautiful. Time to paddle away. It seemed like it went in stretches. Kind of like it was getting us ready for the next section that would present some physical challenges.
Another moment of "where are we now?" It felt like we just kept going and going and going. Confused about exactly where we were. We missed seeing clear creeks that would have been landmarks, causing some confusion. Between the map and the GPS we'd get some idea of how far we had gone. Sometimes it was exhilarating and other times disappointing.
Before we left, I had texted my sister Becky to see just how far we had gone on the Mississippi. She said it was 9 miles and I think we were only gone several hours. I shared that with Keilah ... it made both of us feel better. We could do this! Piece of cake! However ..... I didn't see any of this on the Mississippi. 9 miles becomes many hours in a hurry. And yet, look at the beauty of it!
The serenity of a place that few will ever see. Other than these lovely folks, our traveling companions included water bugs, bees drinking from the river, herons, eagles, ducks and cattle. Quiet serenity.
Sometimes so very still that not even the water moved.
So ended the first day. We found a spot to camp. The first order of business was to change into dry clothes. Ahh ... that felt so good. The guys fashioned sticks into tent poles to make Dean & Keilah's tent habitable. We pumped up our air mattresses for some level of comfort. Stoked up some hot coals and had a dinner of Alaskan salmon and moose with pasta. Coffee time for this mama. The night air was warm. Shouldn't have packed that sweatshirt because those 65 degree night temps weren't happening where we were. Sometime around 4 in the morning it got cool enough to crawl under the sleeping bag instead of just on top of it. Those of us who live in a large metropolis miss one of the most beautiful things in nature. The night sky. Ah, the luxury of sleeping with just a screen between you and the heavens.
10 miles down.
Time to get some rest because we have 32 miles to go in the next couple of days!