Apr 5, 2008

Kayaking on Blue Ridge Reservoir - Coconino National Forest

I really wanted to get some redemption over last weekends horrid skiing conditions, but it looked like weather was gonna repeat itself. Skiing was out, so considering I hadn't paddle since last summer, I decided to load the kayak up and find some water.

I've heard of some kewl flat water paddling on the Blue Ridge Reservoir in the Coconino National Forest

I loaded the car up the night before, and was out the door at 5:30. It was about a 2 1/2 hour drive from my place in Phoenix. And I was on the water by at about 8:30. It was really breezy, which I new was gonna happen. And the elevation of the lake is about 6,700 vf, so I knew it could be a little chilly still. Even though there were patchs of snow and ice around, I still felt comfortable in my shorts, although I did end up putting some paddling pants on one of my pit stops. I believe the FR 751 had just opened for the season, and there were a couple of other groups heading out for a little fishing. The lake has 10 hp limit on boat motors, so this is pretty tame lake to paddle on. The only other people I say on the lake were between the boat ramp and the dam. And even then it was only a couple of other users. Not a bad chunk of solitude.

It was nice to see trees again. And seeing the snow around added some nice contrast to the shoreline. This other charm of this lake is that it's narrow with lots twists and turns, so it has the feel of a river without the current or rapids. Still more benefit are that the twists and turns didn't put the wind in my face very often. In fact it seems like it was at my back for most of the paddle. It blew so hard, I actually pulled out my umbrella for a little sailing. I ended up getting about 1 miles worth of kite time.

In talking with the couple at the boat ramp, they had never seen the lake level this high. I'm sure there are other place to bivy at, but I did pull and found a pretty nifty place I'd look forward to staying at on an overnighter. My 7.5 mile tour left with the other half of the reservoir to explore another day.

I spotted the compulsory osprey nest you'd typically find on a lake like this, and I saw several ducks. I had my eyes constantly peeled for other wildlife, and about halfway up the east cove of the tributaries, I spotted a critter down by the waters edge. It kinda freaked me out. It was roughly twice the size of a racoon, and man did that thing have skills climbing up the wicked steep hill. I'm hearing it was probably a coati. It is also rather rare to see 'em. I did get a short clip of him with my cheap DV camera.

Here's a vid of my trip with loads of stage shots, for my own vanity:

Here's the response I got from a Forest Biologist from the Coconino National Forest -

Sam, cool video! It sure looks like a coati to me! We have had a few
sightings of coati on the Mogollon Rim district, but it's a very rare
observation. Great job, and thanks for asking us so we could see the
video! I'm cc-ing the current biologists on the district, so they can see
they have this rare mammal in their area.

Thanks again for sharing this exciting news!

Cecelia Overby
Forest Biologist, Coconino National Forest
1824 S. Thompson St.
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
ph: 928-527-3460; fax: 928-527-3620

Here's a seperate vid of the critter:


steve garro said...

right on, man! way to do arizona! stop by the frame shop if you are ever in flag! steve garro, coconino cycles.

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Carol said...

Very nice, love your video. I go to Blue Ridge also and you have made me want to go early this year. Visit my lake blog www.arizonalakes.blogspot.com