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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Paddling Lake Pleasant - Part 2

Hi Blog!

Thursday, February 28, 2019, was our last full day at Lake Pleasant. We started off by taking a coffee walk along the Wild Burro Trail. We could hear the burros braying just over the hill, but we never saw them. We thought about continuing down the trail, but we ran out of coffee. The burros would have to wait.

After breakfast, we took the kayaks down Desert Tortoise Road. With all the recent snow melt, the lake levels are higher than usual. This may be the first time we've ever launched from the middle of the road!

At the end of the road, we turned our kayaks left across the water into Two Cow Cove. We had to avoid a few fisherman as we worked our way around the cove toward Two Cow Creek. At the end of the cove, in the creek, was a culvert. We can't seem to get away from culverts! However, this one was too small to travel through.

As we worked our way over from Two Cow Cove to One Cow Cove, we paddled through a forest of palo verde trees that, due to recent heavy rains, have been flooded by rising lake waters.

As we worked our way around the cove, the Wild Burro Trail came down to the water's edge. It didn't take us long to find the wild burros.

The first band contained three individuals. We watched for a few minutes as several hikers tried to take selfies with the burros. We're not sure who were the bigger asses.

As we paddled along, we saw a second band that had at least 8 members. Here's a couple of cuties:

With all the recent rain and snow in Arizona, the lake levels are higher than they have been in years. Many of the wild flowers are actually blooming underwater!

As we worked our way out of One Cow Cove, we encountered this Great Blue Heron hunting for lizards on shore.

We ran into the heron again after lunch. Follow the link to see a video of the great blue heron as it grew impatient and flew away.

Arizona and South California are experiencing a super bloom. Just as the flowers began growing, so did the lake level. Paddling over flower beds was a unique experience.

The ducks don't seem to mind. All the extra plants mean more nesting material.

Our paddle wasn't all birds and burros, we did take some time out to admire the rocks!

Tomorrow we head into Phoenix were we will meet up with Eileen and Tom before heading to the Grand Canyon. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Paddling Lake Pleasant - Part 1

Today, February 27, 2019, was what we waited for -- perfect paddling conditions:  74F temperature, a breeze of 4mph or less, and bright, sunny skies!  We had our choice of places to explore around Lake Pleasant, and decided to start at the north end because of the large number of coves and islands -- and because we had seen some of the terrain yesterday when we hiked the local trails.

We picked a gently sloped, fine gravel beach in Fireman's Cove to put in.  Here, our Jeep Dusty sits patiently while we prepare for our paddle.  A few other campers are boondocking on this section of the shoreline, but they're busy with their own activities:

The water, while cold, was welcoming the moment we slipped into the lake, as you can see from this video of the start of our paddle on Lake Pleasant.

Working our way south along the western shoreline, we immediately saw a wide variety of volcanic rocks:

Our first stop was Cottonwood Creek.  Here, Kathy leads the way up to the furthest shallows of the creek:

Back out at the mouth of Cottonwood Creek, we encountered "No Wake" buoys at the inlet between Helm's Island and Yavapai Point:

Paddling south around Yavapai Point, which we had climbed yesterday for panoramic views of Lake Pleasant, we worked our way into Pipeline Cove and up Pipeline Creek toward a bridge that had marked the turnaround point for our hike of the day before.  Today, it had a few hikers and a couple dogs standing and peering our way out into the lake:

We put our kayaks ashore near the bridge, to have our lunch and enjoy the greens, reds and blues of the day:

In our blog entry of yesterday, "Hike to Yavapai Point," we have a photo of Kathy dipping her hot tootsies into the cold waters of the lake.  We had her reenact her cool intermission for a camera viewing from the water rather than the land:

Putting back out into the water, we started paddling out Pipeline Creek, looking for interesting views such as this hillside of what appeared to be thousands of ancestors gazing down upon us with approval:

One arm of Pipeline Creek stretches up the canyon and steadily narrows, but remains deep enough for us to paddle some distance.  Here, we ran across a dead tree still standing in the canyon water:

Another dead tree graced the shoreline:

Another arm of Pipeline Creek extended even further up inland from Yavapai Point:

Kathy explored the arm as far as the water would let her kayak float:

Back out on the main water of the lake, we got more expansive view of rocks, cactus and the expansive green carpets of vegetation exploding from the extraordinary rains this area has received this winter:

Across the lake, a lone sailboat plied its way, tacking in the light winds:

We turned a final point before paddling past a few small islands to return to Fireman's Cove:

One fellow was fishing from his own kayak, hopefully safe from the wakes of motorboats within the protection of warning buoys:

Looking south from our place, floating among small island, we could see ghostly mountains in the distance, measuring the large vistas across the lake:

We slowly found our way back to our origin -- about 5 miles of paddling in all -- only to find this cheeky raven taking possession of our Jeep.  Kathy tried splashing her paddle to drive him away.  He did flee reluctantly, but only after leaving his "calling card" on the roof of the Jeep.  Thanks, buddy.

This was hopefully but the first of two days of paddles on Lake Pleasant.  Tomorrow, we'll show you what we find on the south end of the lake.

Hike to Yavapai Point

Hi Blog!

We finished up our stay in Salome by traveling back to Quartzsite to have lunch with Eric and Ginny. It may be a year before our paths cross again, but we know they will. Until then, stay thirsty my friends!

On Monday, February 25, 2019, we made our way over to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, a Maricopa County Park. The cornerstone of the park is the 10,000 acre Lake Pleasant, one of the important artificial reservoirs surrounding the Phoenix metropolitan area. The lake is a mecca for watersports of all types, and we are looking forward to finally getting a chance to put our kayaks in the water. However, it will have to wait for the weather to improve.

While the weather has warmed up, the winds are still a bit brisk for paddling. We decided to take a hike instead. We are camped in the Desert Tortoise Campground just off South Park Road. On Tuesday, February 26, we decided to drive over to the north section of the park and take a hike to Yavapai Point.

Here, Dave points the way:

Lake Pleasant Regional Park covers more than 23,000 acres of mountainous desert landscape. The saguaro cactus is one of the defining plants of the Sonoran Desert. These plants are large, tree-like columnar cacti that develop arms as they age, although some never grow arms. These arms generally bend upward and can number over 25. Saguaro can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall. When rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated, it can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds.

In the photo below, Kathy stops to examine a particularly tall fellow.

Yavapai Point Trail is one of the newest trails at Lake Pleasant. The trail was completed in November 2014. Once the well marked trail comes off the Pipeline Canyon trail, it becomes moderate and narrow in spots, with some nice switchbacks. The view becomes better as you head up.  Jojoba, brittle brush and big Saguaro Cactus line the trail.

On the way up, we stopped and look down at the hikers on the Pipeline Trail  as they headed down toward the lake.

The higher we climbed, the further we could see. We looked down and saw a bridge crossing a very scenic looking cove. We decided, after reaching the summit, that we would go check out the bridge.

Looking down on Helm's Island and all the little islands around it made us excited to bring the kayaks back and paddle around them.

From our vantage point at the top of Yavapai Point, we could see the snowy peaks in the distance.

To see what we saw, click the link and get a 360-degree view at Lake Pleasant from the top of Yavapai Point.

On the way back down, we noticed that these little yellow flowers had opened to embrace the sun.

In order to reach the bridge, we had to hike back down to the junction with the Pipeline Canyon Trail. Check out the unusual saguaro standing guard at the trailhead.

The hike down to Pipeline Cove was about a mile. The bridge is actually a series of floating barges.

Below, Dave takes in the view up Pipeline Creek from the bridge.

After four miles of desert hiking, Kathy was more than ready to kick off her boots and soak her tootsies in the icy cold lake water.  We re-enacted this scene, but from the water point of view, in our blog entry of tomorrow, "Paddling Lake Pleasant - Part 1."

The hike back to the trailhead was filled with promises to come back and kayak the lakeshore and poke in all the coves we saw from above.

We finished our hike and joined our friends Ron and Dee for a great dinner at Rock Springs Cafe.  Established in 1918, Rock Springs Cafe is an historical landmark serving legendary pies.  As it turns out, we had actually been here before, back in 2000, when we took a car trip from Scottsdale to the Grand Canyon. Their pies are just as good as we remembered!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Postholing in Snowizona

Those of you outside of Arizona might not realize that, on Thursday, February 21, 2019, Arizona experience a snowstorm of unprecedented proportions.  It caused us to divert our motorhome route from Peach Springs (right in the eye of the storm), down south to Salome, where the storm was merely rain.  Lucky we did, because I-40 was closed east of Kingman, as were many roads in the area.  We hunkered down until the rain ended, using Friday to catch up on logistical and planning issues.

Today is Saturday, February 23, 2019, and, once we watched the news to discover that Prescott, Arizona had been pelted with nearly 3 feet of snow -- an unprecedented snowfall -- we decided to drive up in our Jeep and find a place to go snowshoeing.  Our campground in Salome is only about 1.5 hours from Prescott, so off we set.

Above Congress, we climbed into the mountains and got a preview of our day.  The highway directed us into the snow zone:

Further up, as we approached the city of Prescott, the mountains in Prescott National Forest welcomed us:

We decided to drive into Prescott to see if the local tourist information office could give us suggestions for places to snowshoe.


The tourist office was closed due to snow, even though it was supposed to be open.  We decided to head back out to explore a forest road we had seen on the way up.  But first we had to stop for coffees -- lattes, that is.  We found ourselves in the center of Prescott, at Firehouse Coffee Company, right across Courthouse Plaza from the County Court House:

Not having the advice of the locals, we returned to the forest road we spotted on the way up to Prescott.  Another few miles and we were out of the Jeep, strapped on our snowshoes, and identifying our trailhead:  the beginning of Forest Road 73:

The snow was almost 3 feet deep.  Kathy jumped into it with eagerness --

-- and David strapped on his snowshoes with abandon:

We schussed down FR 73 eagerly.  Kathy had the glow of excitement in her cheeks:

Along the way, we spotted animal tracks -- mainly rabbit:

To our surprise, about a half mile down the road, we ran into a gate posted with "No Trespassing" signs.  It was lunchtime, so we stopped to eat our lunch and ponder our next adventure on snowshoes:

We had passed Forest Road 73A as we trekked downhill.  We decided to hike back up and see what 73A had to offer.  Here, David explores the virgin snow and leads the way "up" FR 73A, which happens to climb this steep hill:

OMG, the snowshoeing was hard -- 3 feet deep, up a steep hill.  Because Arizona got a soft, powdery snow, it sank beneath our snowshoes, and we post-holed at least 2 feet on every step.  Lifting our feet was laborious because we had to drag snow back up with us on every step.  Perhaps the hardest half mile we ever hiked.  But the scenery was magnificent:

Mountains one direction, and sky and feathery clouds the other:

We reached the height of land, and had an unimpeded view across 270 degrees:

Kathy grinned, knowing that we had finished the hard part, and all we had to do was snowshoe down through our own tracks.  Piece of cake!

We worked our way back down the mountain to the original road, and then back up to our Jeep on the highway.  It was a full-body workout, compounded by maximum aerobic exercise.  But we were up to it.  We reached the Jeep and sank into the seats, feeling the endorphins coursing through the bottoms of our lungs and the rest of our bodies.  Our ride home was euphoric!

Just to get an idea what we saw at the top, take a look at this 360-degree view from the height of our snowshoe.

Wow.  What will we do tomorrow to top this?