Cate Hawthorne 09/05/2015 | Posted in All Water Rec, Canyons, Day Tripper, Internationalization, JK Team Posts, Journey, Recreational/Touring, rivers, United States, Western US
Each year Jeff and I do a Spring- Run Off trip before Liquid Fusion Kayaking’s busy spring and summer season on the Mendocino Coast. Our spring run-off trips typically involve whitewater kayaking and camping; however, this year we decided to mix it up with a relaxing desert camping trip – by kayak of course.
Black Canyon on the Colorado River became our retreat destination. For our road trip, we decided to travel light and rent kayaks. We were super stoked to work with Helen and her crew at Desert River Outfitters. Her shuttle driver picked us up at the hotel, shared insightful knowledge of the canyon (recommended a great camping spot), and dropped us off with a pair of Jackson Kayak Journeys at the base of the Hoover Dam.
Our plan for the trip was to paddle (float) down river and set up a base camp. From our base camp, we could then paddle to check out different hikes, canyons, and hot springs along the river. The Jackson Journey worked great for our trip. Folks at the put-in were amazed at how much we were able to store in the Journey’s. The beauty of kayaking into the wilderness to camp is that you can bring luxuries that one wouldn’t bring on foot – including tasty beverages.
Our trip down the river was quite leisurely. We enjoyed the warm weather, cool water, and fascinating scenery. Our take-out was 11 miles downstream in 4 days at Willow Beach. We had time to just float and enjoy.
Our leisurely trip afforded us opportunities to check out lots of little side canyons. Some we just nosed our boats into while others, we did a little bouldering and exploring.
We hiked up the main hot spring canyons – Gold Strike, Boy Scout, and Arizona. It was a neat experience to be hiking through streams of warm and even hot water. In some areas, we could hear the water gurgling and moving through the canyon walls and then a few yards later, it would pour out of the hillside.
It was amazing how different the geology seemed to be in each canyon. Sitting in a hot spring gave us time to ponder the geological origins and wonder what is still going on underground today to that is heating up the water.
Most of the hiking involved a bit of bouldering and at times wading and even a little bit of sliding.
At camp, we enjoyed time watching the birds and wildlife. One of our favorite wildlife sightings of the trip included a pair of bald eagles and their nest which appeared to have one chick. Traveling by kayak enabled us to bring binoculars and several books including guide books which we frequently used to look up the desert flora, fauna, and wildlife species. Grackles were a new bird to us. We were totally entertained by their flock behavior and variety of calls. Of course, we kept a close eye on them and were careful not to leave any food unattended.
We wish other users of the canyon would be conscientious about not feeding the wildlife – especially the mallard ducks. It seemed that each camp and canyon had a pair of mallard ducks begging for handouts. They always seemed to be following us on the river and even would hang out by our boats hoping for an opportunity to get some food.
Getting to see bighorn sheep was a treat. They didn’t even seem to notice us as we floated by.
There were other users on the river including others on overnight kayak trips. The Jackson Kayak Tripper appears to be a popular boat for the trip. The Day Tripper has lots of room for storage but is also super stable platform for leisurely paddling.
Leisurely paddling was the name of our trip, and we enjoyed floating along in our Journey’s. This trip has renewed our love for the desert and leisurely paddling – going the fewest amount of miles in the most amount of time. It was the much needed retreat that we needed before heading home to the Mendocino Coast and gearing up for our spring/summer season.
Here’s a photo gallery from our trip.