Added 19 May 2008

Day 1 | Day 2

Day 1: Monday, 18 February 2008, Martinez Lake, Arizona

(Hover over images for captions. Click images for larger versions.)

After turning in early the night before, I slept straight through until 12:30 a.m., then woke up every 45 minutes or so after that until perhaps 5 o'clock, then I slept soundly again until a little after 7 o'clock. I woke with a start. I'd overslept.

I'd wanted to be on the road well before dawn in order to arrive at Martinez Lake right before the sun came up. Instead, I didn't get to the lake until around 8:15. I still had a great morning, and while the morning wasn't nearly as successful as the previoius evening, I got a few decent bird photographs.

Sometime after nine o'clock, I paddled out to the Colorado River to go downstream to relax in a backwater channel that Mindy and I had poked our boats into very briefly on the last trip. I was taken aback when I reached the river.

The river was a good 2-3 feet higher than when I was last there, and was obviously flowing with more resolve. Many of the beaches and sand bars that had been above water a month earler at 3,500-5300 cfs were under water. Checking later, I found out the river was running at around 9,500 cfs, 2-3 times the volume a month prior. The flow looked swift enough to be challenging to paddle back up against, so I first headed upstream to make sure it was possible, then I drifted downstream to use my GPS to measure the flow velocity. The river was flowing at about 2.3 mph, a rate I could paddle against without huge difficulty.

At the backwater channel, I discovered that the paddle-wide channel Mindy and I had found before was now 50 feet wide, promising more backwaters to explore. Before knowing that the water level was up, I'd planned on kayaking the backwater until I ran out of water then kicking back to write or read. I ended up paddling all morning and into the early afternoon without stopping. I probably paddled at least 5 miles of backwater, not including back-tracking, and there was definitely more to explore.

At around mid-day, I found a medium sized lake nestled up against the surrounding hills, at the extreme edge of the geologic floodplain of the Colorado River. It was a neat little lake, and I used the opportunity of finding solid ground to get out and stretch my legs a bit.

Reluctantly, I paddled back towards home. Along the way, I saw a funny sight. Just after getting back on Martinez Lake, I saw a motor boat approaching me, and it was towing something. As I got closer I realized it was a dock! It took all of my resolve to refrain from yelling out, "Hey! The marina is going to want their dock back!" as we passed each other. I'm guessing they must have been setting up a dock at one of the many homes that line the waterfront in the area. Once I got back to my truck, I loaded my gear, bought a cold beverage at the store, and started the drive home. I left Martinez Lake a little after one o'clock, giving me the freedom to take the long way home, which turned out to be the perfect way to end a fantastic day.

Day 1 | Day 2