Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Kayaking the Verde: Day 3, Grand Finale

Read about Day 1: Initiation, Day 1: A Dunking, and Day 2 here if you need to catch up.

I slept long and hard last night and woke stiff and sore.  If I moved a certain way, my middle back screamed at me.  I had a feeling I pulled a muscle when I paddled furiously to stay out of the bushes on one of yesterday's rapids. It was another beautiful morning, and the day promised to be a hot one.  I was definitely moving slower this morning than last. 
My feet hurt when I walked.  The sand rubbed into all my blisters and I wasn't putting my pathetic sandals on any sooner than I had to (Note to self: No garage sale Teva's next trip). 
I hobbled over to Jari and Anita's tent site so we could filter our day's worth of water.

Sunday morning on the Verde. Dean and I fill our water bottles.  Photo creds to Anita

Thank goodness for that water filter!  It would have made for some harder paddling if we had to carry our weekends worth of water.

"Hello band aids. Stay on my feet for a little while, would ya?"
"Hello three day old, stretched out capri pants. Will you ever be the same again?" (Note to self: No stretchy cotton next time.)
"Hello again river.  Let's do this, shall we?"

Amazingly enough, my feet were able to stay dry for the first hour or two. We clipped along at a good pace and didn't have to get out and walk any sections.  We paddled through some fun sounding stuff: dry run rapid, junkyard rapid, and honey chute (that was a fun one). Actually, they all were fun ones.

Dean and I learned not to follow Jari and Anita, and vice versa. Their boats were inflatable and would often get stuck on the rocks. Ours didn't. Their boats didn't tip as easily, or get stuck under the bushes.  Ours did.  In fact, they would often just bounce right off the bushes and trees.  We sat low in the water and would get sucked right under if we tried that!

Anita and Jari come down the deeper channel on the left, while Dean avoids the reaching bushes and navigates the rocks.

Oh! I just learned that the term for fast moving water when not classified as a rapid is 'riffle'.  The guide stated we ran only three rapids on our third day.  Hmmm, some of those seemed bigger than a riffle!  I seriously wonder what it would be like to do the first day over again.  Would the first 'riffle' I ran (and lost my tent poles on) be easy peasy?  Or was it really a 'rapid'?

Of course, our good fortune of navigable river that morning had to end.  And it ended in reeds.

We had a couple instances where the river forked and we had to choose which way to go.  Both times, there seemed to be equal amounts of water going each direction.  When we came to thick grass/reeds/in your face growth we sent Jari and Anita the other direction.  It didn't matter.  They ended up right back behind us, crouching over in the grass, blindly following our kayaks through the flow of water. We literally could only see the kayak rope in our hand, and the water under our feet. It seemed to never end! Anita dubbed it the tunnel of terror.

Not too long after that, we came upon a double whammy - a rapid that forked at the end, one direction ending in a whirlpool, the other direction heading straight into a huge tree stump preceding another rapid that kissed tree roots along the outside banks.  We weren't running that one!
Enter the 75 foot long rope.  It was barely long enough to send the inflatable kayaks down on. Our hard sided kayaks were portaged. I sure hoped this was a grand finale of rapids and not one of many more to come.
Breathless, we paddled on, turned a curve, and saw Sheep's Bridge!
Whew! What a relief to make our lunch spot destination!

With only ten miles to go, you would think we'd make good time.  Except there weren't any more rapids after Sheep's Bridge.  The first couple miles were swift moving, and actually quite beautiful. When we entered the northern end of Horseshoe Reservoir, I felt like we were in a different world.  It was a riparian oasis.  I really missed my camera phone as we paddled under arches of branches hanging with vines (the few I took on my disposable camera didn't turn out). 
Soon the water channel widened and we had endless water to paddle. Onward, onward we went. The wind picked up and we wondered if we'd beat the storm.

Once on the lake and out in the wide open, it started to rain and flash lightning.

My man paddling in the rain.  He probably could have paddled another 42 miles. He was like a machine.

Waves with caps pushed us ever closer to shore, where we could just make out two vehicles awaiting our return.
The thought of finishing propelled me onward.  Finally, finally we reached the shore. Forty two miles!  I had paddled/pushed/walked 42 miles!  Forty two gruesome, beautiful, treacherous, peaceful miles.

When Anna asked me if I'd do it again, I said "the 25 good miles". Without a doubt.

But to get the good miles, you have to take the bad.

I guess that means I'll do it all again (Notes to self: kayak when the water level is higher. Consider an inflatable kayak. Plan to travel less miles, or travel for more days. Ask friends along who have not read this completely honest blog!).

Seriously though, I wouldn't have traded this trip for any other.  It was a pretty incredible adventure!

And whether or not I go again, I have a few class II and class III rapids under my belt.  Also, I know that I am capable of paddling a heck of a lot of miles. I do believe we all deserve a massage!

1 comment:

  1. Have you had that massage yet? I managed to eek out 30 minutes out of Tia last week ... it took about a week to get it. My fingers can still feel the effects of gripping the paddles!