Monday, April 21, 2014

Kayaking the Verde River

"Life is like a river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere." --Emma Smith

This pretty much describes the section of the Verde River Paddle Trail that the lady at the Visitor Center recommended for us. Only she downplayed the rapids. We put in at White Bridge, where there is a parking area and accessible ramp down to the river. The water is deceptively calm here and lulls you into thinking this will be a relaxing leisurely float...
 The printed guide for this section of the river identifies a few areas with suggestions on how to approach. It says keep to the left of this island because of an irrigation diversion dam that creates a tricky dogleg on the other side.
 There were actually quite a few tricky doglegs/S-curves in in this section of river.

 A vertical turbine pump withdraws water from the river for irrigation.
 Sometimes the guide didn't mention an island and we gad to just guess which side was safer/easier. Sometimes we guessed right.
 Then there were the placid, scenic stretches that made it easier to take pictures.
 We saw ducks and kingfishers, but taking a picture while we were both in motion didn't always work out.
 Large fish skimmed the surface.
 We passed some fancy housing developments. A man was out mowing his expansive lawn here. The fertilizer he probably uses to get the green grass is likely polluting the water too.
 The guide says there's a particularly tricky S-curve near the pottery clay cliffs. We can see some clay-colored cliffs ahead.
 So we figure this series of curves is it. Birdie got pushed into the trees here.

 Oops, might boat was still going pretty fast.
 Another quiet spot.
 Suddenly there was a pile of big rocks scattered all the way across the river with water rushing between them. I couldn't see a path through fast enough and got hung up on a rock in the middle.
 Birdie tried to avoid running into me and she got hung up too. I had to put my paddle down and use both hands to push off.
 Birdie finally got free too, but took on a lot of water which she kept bailing the rest of the trip.
 Oh, those pottery clay cliffs....
 Passing more houses.
 The white stuff on the water is cattail and cottonwood seeds floating around. Birdie calls it Arizona snow, and it looks like snow as it falls and accumulates on the ground.
 We're being watched.
 One Canadian goose.
 We could see that he had an injured leg...probably why he didn't fly north with the others.
 Looking for otters or beavers that are supposed to be here. Didn't see any.
 Some "riffles" were just enough to give a little thrill.
 Others were a bigger thrill, haha.
 But we did it!
 This is either an irrigation canal or tributary flowing into the river. There were several of these.
 Gentle float...
 Hoo-wah moment.
 Gentle float...
 Wood Duck
 And at last we see our take-out point ahead. The biggest challenge was carrying our kayaks up the steep bank to the parking area. A river rafting company was launching here. One of the young guides grabbed my kayoo to help us. He laughed when he hefted that 12 pound canoe.
So that was fun, but I still prefer to paddle around in placid waters.


  1. That was surprising and fun! Well, except for never getting rid of ALL that water I took on at the "canoe flipping" (notice not kayak flipping) rock dodge spot!

  2. Sounds like you both had a great time. So if it was canoe flipping and not kayak flipping, how come Birdie had the water in her kayak???? lol

  3. Great meeting you ladies today!



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