… in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and… No, that’s something else altogether.
I haven’t been able to get that song out of my head every since I decided to stop overnight at McHood City Park near Winslow, Arizona and paddle the pretty river of Clear Creek. McHood Park is a small campground and day use area on the shore of Clear Creek Reservoir. The campground is nothing more than a parking lot but it is free for 14 days.
The temperature in Winslow this time of year is still in the 90’s, so I got up early and put my kayak in the reservoir next to the campground. The dam at the reservoir backs up the water into Clear Creek for a few miles and makes a beautiful place to float through the canyon of steep rock walls.
The reservoir was not very pretty for 1/2 mile or so – reeds along the shore and seaweed that scraped the bottom of the boat – but then you cross under the bridge and start into the canyon.
The canyon, rock walls get steeper and steeper until they tower over you in your little boat, almost making it dark as the sun is blocked from the narrow gorge. The cliffs are favorites of some visitors that come here to jump from high ledges into the water.
It felt kind of spooky to be all alone in the depths of the canyon, miles from anyone. Once in the deep canyon I had no cell signal. The only blessing was that the shade from the rock walls blocked the sun and increasing heat of the day.
I finally reached the end of the navigable water. I met a young man there that had paddled his canoe earlier than me and was fishing by the shore. I asked him if I could go any further and he said I could go a little further but would have to drag my boat over many shallow places.
On the way back I met six more people in one-person kayaks going the opposite way. One woman had a paddle board with a dog riding with her. My shoulders started hurting on the way back and my butt got sore from sitting so long on an unpadded seat. The wind also came up and blew in my face, making forward progress even more difficult.
I had my phone in a plastic baggie in a fanny pack when I started out, but taking it out of the plastic every time I wanted to take a picture got to be too much of a hassle. Of course when I got back to the boat ramp, I would fall in the water.
I stepped out of the boat and grabbed hold of the front handle to pull the boat up on dry part of the ramp. I didn’t realize just how slippery the algae covered concrete was and I went down in an instant. I floundered around for a bit and succeeded in dunking myself even deeper. Finally, I got hold of the dock and stood up, immediately pulling my phone from the fanny pack and setting it in the sun to dry. It was somewhat protected in the zippered pouch so just a little water got to it. Seems like it is fine.
It was noon when I got the kayak loaded and strapped down. I drove south to a familiar camp near Blue Ridge Ranger Station. The weather here should be nice for a few days.