Black Canyon, Colorado River

When:

February 17th - 19th, 2006

Where:

Black Canyon, below Hoover Dam

Attendees:

Chuck H (Me)

Sam L

Laura M

Jeanne F

Links:

Downriver Outfitters, Boulder City Nevada

 


February 17th 2006


Me and 3 friends from work drove out to southeastern Nevada to kayak/canoe the Black Canyon.

I've done the trip before and I think this might be a yearly trip for me, it is a really fun trip.

We drove out on Thursday the 16th and stayed at the Hacienda Hotel, where

we were to meet out outfitter on the morning of the 17th. Sam and I rented kayaks and the ladies

shared a canoe. All of the photos are clickable to a larger image, thanks for Sam and Jeanne for

sharing some of their photographs for this webpage. My images are copyrighted.

Here are a few pictures from the 8am launch below the dam.



On the right is one of the huge cranes mounted to the canyon wall for the new bridge project.
The bridge is expected to be completed in 2008 and will be quite a spectacle when it's done,
being some 300 feet higher than Hoover Dam with 2 lanes in both directions.





(Laura, Me, Jeanne, Sam)


A few hundred meters from the launch we were treated a spectacular site!!! A peregrine falcon

had just captured an American avocet was was sitting on a large boulder plucking its

meal! The falcon was just 15 feet from the water's edge and I slowly kayaked nearer for

some photographs. It was awesome and that made the trip for me and we had just begun!




We also saw lots of double-crested cormorants nesting in the canyon walls along an old catwalk.



We made our way a couple miles downstream to Boy Scout Canyon (river mile 61 NV) and

made camp. The weather was pretty nice, but a cold front had moved in so the temps

were in the 50s instead of the 70s the week before. Still not bad.




Once camp was set, we paddled back upstream to explore the sights. The big groups that launched

with us were gone and we could explore Sauna Cave (river mile 63 NV) and Goldstrike Canyon

(river mile 62.5 NV). The area is very geothermally active with hot springs and seeps coming

out of the walls everywhere.




Everywhere you looked was more eye candy for the camera!



Goldstrike Canyon is great with seeps oozing all over the place. The algae come in all

different colors too.


Sam's fugly blue shorts pretty much ruined this tranquil picture! haha :)



Laura takes in the colors.



Near Goldstrike Canyon , we saw a group of desert bighorn sheep. One had a radio-telemetry collar (On the left).



We paddled back to camp, the day was nice and the water was calm. What more can you ask for?



A pair of mallards that were obviously used to people feeding them stopped by camp to scope us out.



Once back to camp the wind started to pick up a little. We attempted to hike up to the pools

in Boy Scout Canyon, but the wind was whipping through the slot canyon and the water

was flowing pretty good. We didn't make it all the way up to the pools on this trip.

Sign on the way up the canyon.



The water came up really high in the evening to right where Jeanne is standing in this picture.





February 18th 2006

We woke up to some cloud cover and colder temps. The boats had also moved

quite a bit in the night because the water levels rose so high. The water came all

the way past the entrance to last year's camp. Must have had some high power

demands in Vegas!

As we left, Sam snapped this picture with Boy Scout Canyon behind me. It's a great camp spot!




We loaded up and headed down to Arizona Hot Springs (river mile 60 AZ). The area

was really packed and a whole troop of boyscouts was on their way to the area from

Highway 93. We decided to lounge in the springs a while and then head further

down river to escape the people. I suspect that by the time we left, over 50 folks were

camped in the small area.

The wind was higher today and made the paddling a little more work, though not bad really.



Here I take a break from the wind in a protected area.



We saw more bighorn, can you see them in the first picture? Probably not, but I
zoomed in for the second picture!



We paddled down to Crane's Nest Canyon (river mile 56 AZ) and made camp. We were

the only ones in the canyon and it was a lot better that way. The wind was pretty strong up

until dusk though.




February 19th 2006

We awoke to a better morning, less wind, and after breakfast we went on a long hike up the canyon.

 

The rock formations were really beautiful. This area was full of vertical formations.



Several veins of different minerals were visible. I wish I knew more about geology to understand

the processes involved to form these wild designs.





There were a few wildflowers out, but not many. With the dry winter we've had in the southwest,

I was surprised to see any wildflowers at all. Sure is helpful that Sam is a botanist!


Here is a great website for researching plants:
National Plant Database, USDA

Desert Lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus)


Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa)



Blue phacelia (Phacelia crenulata)


Bigelows Monkeyflower (Mimulus bigelovii)


It's hard work taking wildflower pictures too!!!
This is me trying to get the Mimulus photo.



After our hike we lazed around camp relaxing and reading for a few hours and headed out

around noon. We only had a few miles left and we were not meeting the outfitter until

3:30pm.

There is a guaging station near river mile 54.5 (NV). It is solar powered now, but it used

to be accessed from the catwalk in this picture. That must have been a scary job walking

that catwalk everyday.



We also checked out Emerald Cave (river mile 54 AZ).




Lots of cliff swallow nests in the ceiling of the cave.




We made our way down to the Gauger's Home Site, a state historical site (river mile 53.5 AZ). I love exploring

old historical sites.




A really scenic spot.



We arrived at the Willow Beach takeout (river mile 52 AZ) around 2:30 and had about

an hour to kill. Sam decided that he would read and it made for a funny picture!



The next day we drove home and stopped for a quick tour on top of Hoover Dam. The water levels in

Lake Mead were around 50% and I've read that levels in Lake Powell are even less. The drought is

noticable everywhere in the southwest.



Lastly, here is a picture of our launch site from the dam with another group heading out to adventure!



Birdwatching is one of my favorite hobbies and here is the bird list I had for the trip.

Mallard

Redhead

Bufflehead

Double-crested Cormorant

Turkey Vulture

Osprey

Red-tailed Hawk

Peregrine Falcon

American Coot

American Avocet

Great Horned Owl

Black Phoebe

Say's Phoebe

Common Raven

Cliff Swallow

Verdin

Canyon Wren

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Phainopepla

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Rubi-crowned Kinglet

Abert's Towhee

Black-throated Sparrow

Song Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Great-tailed Grackle

House Finch

House Sparrow

And a couple unknown hummingbirds, females that woulnd't stay long enough to ID!





Final Thoughts on the Trip

-- Next time, I'm going to go when things are just slightly warmer, I might try late October or early November

-- Next time I will kayak up from Willow Beach with my own boat, the outfitter is great, but not needed

-- Having a canoe along really helps for extra gear!

-- Good trips with good friends, you can't beat it. :-)



Thanks for looking...


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