Monday, August 3, 2015

2002 Kayaking Arizona's Black Canyon/Lake Mead with Elderhostel

This Elderhostel program featured five days of kayaking. The first day we learned kayaking skills on Lower Lake Mohave, a man-made lake created by Davis Dam at Bullhead City, Arizona. Davis Dam is the first dam after Hoover Dam on the lower Colorado River, and this area is all part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. In the photo below, I am learning the "self-rescue" technique, where you purposely tip yourself over, then right the kayak and get back in. Except for being in the 46 degree water, it was a fairly easy procedure. As it turned out, I was one of a very few who attempted this and succeeded.


Following the day of practicing on the lake, we embarked on 4 days of kayaking down the Colorado River through Black Canyon, beginning at the foot of Hoover Dam. You've probably never seen Hoover Dam from river level down below.  Well here it is!

The scenery down the Colorado River was magnificent, we encountered very few motorized craft, and except for one rapid, the flat water and 4 mph current made for a peaceful, relaxing trip. We camped three nights on beaches and stopped numerous times to explore side canyons. Our guide, Bill Walls, regaled us with local history, lessons on the indigenous flora and fauna, jokes and anecdotes, and even started evening campfires the old fashioned way --first with bow and drill and then with flint and steel.

The hike up Boy Scout Canyon proved a bit challenging, and only three of us did the upper portion beyond this waterfall. Here Russ climbs the waterfall with the aid of the knotted rope, without which the slippery rocks and force of the water would have halted our progress. Good footwear such as old running shoes or Tevas proved to be valuable gear.

Farther up Boy Scout Canyon, Lisa uses the "chimney" climbing technique I showed her to advance to the next level of the canyon. The ultimate reward for these gymnastic maneuvers was reaching a "weeping wall" from which the hot water was emanating, and which was covered inches deep in mosses and algae, etc.

The hike up Arizona Hot Springs Canyon included an assist from a 20 foot metal ladder to get us to the two hot springs pools, in which we soaked for a while. One was occupied by an older fellow who was naked, but "gallantly" stood for us as we walked past him, apparently proud to show off his shriveled "shortcomings."

The a hike of an additional 2 miles took us through beautiful slot canyons and finally to an area with numerous petroglyphs, a few of which are below.

The whole crew:

Back row (l to r): Pat, Charlotte, Bernard, Trudi, Sue, Dave, Rattlesnake Bill (our extraordinary leader), Marlene, and Jack;
Front row and kneeling: Meg, Jim, Barb, Russ, Chuck, Carol, Erin (co-leader), Lisa, and Lonnie.


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