Sep 16, 2012

Floating Horseshoe Dam: Fail! Do not do!

DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS PORTION OF THE RIVER UNTIL YOU GET GOOD AND CLEAR BETA THAT IT IS SAFE. UNDERSTOOD??? GOOD! The past few weeks, I have been on a quest to find some new water to float. I did a little recon (via my mtb) on the Verde from Bartlett Lake on down to Rio Verde and it looked dreamy. Since the area is closed to recent flood damage, I decided to turn my attention to floating from Horseshoe Dam on down to Bartlett. It looked simple enough, and I did some research (web posts,talked to Tonto FS, and Google Earth). I should be ridiculed for attempting this solo, since it was on the verge of being on the back country, but it looked very doable. My plan was to park my bike at Jojoba Rec Area (new the bottom of Barlett Lake), then drive up to the top (near the dam at Horseshoe Lake), then float the 12 or so miles down the river/lake, then pedal the 15 or 16 miles (a couple thousand VF) back to my car. I left my place at 5:00 am, dropped the bike off at the Rec area, then drove to the top. The road veers a long way off from the river/lake, so getting sights of what I was gonna float were no existent. I parked here, and I from what I saw from Google Earth, I would need to paddle up the pond about a 1/4 mile to get to the river's path. That didn't work out so well, cuz although the pond was full, there was now way to punch thru the cattails and trees the water was rushing thru. The river just dissappeared into the reeds. No bueno! At that point I figure, I would call it a day and do some exploring in my car, as I made my way back up the road a few miles to the dam itself. It was trip not meant to be. Once I got to the dam I saw a nice flow, and my the peak I saw of the river gauge said it was about 200 cfs. I decided to try my trip again, thinking the pond I set out on earlier was not a path the channel of the river. It started off really nicely, I was stoked! I could hear the river flowing over the rapids, and it looked promising. Also on my drive up I could see lake sections of the river that made me think things were good. They were, as I ripped some really nice ripples. I floated down to a really kewl diversion dam, and I think it was Devil's Hole. The design of the dam made for a really nice 3 foot drop into the bump. I scouted it before I hit, then I hit again. I was dreamy. Exactly what I wanted. Nothing gnarly, but it was some whooped I hadn't seen here in AZ. This hole has me wanting to get back up there, just to do it. About 1/4 past that things got das uber hairy. The river channel narrowed to about 3 feet, and the cattails block the river path. BIG TIME CONCERN. Before I knew it, I the river was nearly block, as the river split and the water went thru the reeds. The water was pretty swift, but I pulled over the best I could to pull my gopro camera off my helmet. I didn't want that to hang me up as I ripped thru the cattails. The problem was that I was now pointed backwards, and not ready to head down river. As I set out, I got one good paddle stroke to pull quickly pull me around, but this sent me into the overhanging reeds. Next thing I know I upside down, wishing I hadn't done that, and no room to roll. DRAT!!! I pulled and had my hand on my paddle and boat as the river bashed me thru the reeds. Make this ride stop!!! Luckily there were no trees to get hung up on, and I drifted into a pool where I could catch my breath. I found the most miniscule peace of dirt to pull my boat up on, so I could drain. It, and that is when it dawned on me that was near the vicinity where I set out earlier and it was no place to be. Downed strainers everywhere and the water was moving swiftly. I emptied my hull, ask my Guardian Angel (yes, I am Catholic and I just had a come to Jesus moment)for help. I chose life, and wanted out. To get out, I had to step outta my hull and ride the river down. The river only got more choked. To be honest, I kinda felt a little despair. I got to an angle to where I could take inventory of where I was at (the reeds are pretty damn tall and obscured my view). I was in a place where I could see the bluffs to the west, and the where the road was at. That was a good feeling. I knew I had to exit stage left, and call it a day. The only problem was that I needed to get up on top of the reeds with my boat and paddle. This was no easy task, cuz the water was rushing thru the reeds and my legs. I climbed and struggle over the cattails. It was took me looks to find the place where I could break thru. Alas, I found the opening where it was just cattails and now growing and dead trees. After about 15 minutes of work, I punched thru to the pond. Relief and hope were restored. At this time, not to get all religious and cathartic on ya, but this is when I realized of how reckless this adventure turned out to be. Life has been a real struggle lately, and if I happened to die on the river then so be it. If in the future I die on one of my adventures, then I can only hope you view me a meek person just striving to live the life I have been given. Before my failed marriage, I had a purpose, and that is to love the best I could, during my marriage I did love the best way I could, but understanding of what my purpose is now has been lost. I need to pick myself up and continue to love the best way I can now. I would call this a baptism in the traditional sense, but more of a gentle reminder that life is good, and I need to search for my new purpose and continue it. Phew, thanks for your patience with the last paragraph. I got out safely, to the road, and marched the 3 miles back up to my car. From there I drove back down to the Jojoba Rec area, but I still wanted more, cuz a couple hours on the river just wasn't enough. I shouldered up my kayak and headed down the boat ramp and paddle down to the dam. I wanted to see for myself if a path to the east side of the dam is doable. I still have a yearning (last weekend adventure of scouting this portion of the Verde below Bartlett dam is doable). In the post from last weekend, I noted the gate was locked up 2 miles from the river access. It about a 2 mile paddle to the spill way portion of the dam, and then I left my kayak on the shore and scrambled over the spill way. It would be a kind of a bushwack, but accessing the Verde from here is certainly doable. Although the hike down would be about 1/2 mile. Ambitious, but doable. It bares restating: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS PORTION OF THE RIVER UNTIL YOU GET GOOD AND CLEAR BETA THAT IT IS SAFE. UNDERSTOOD??? GOOD! Here is short video of what I did today:

2 comments:

Freeskier46 said...

Dang Sam, quite the adventure. Glad you're ok!! Cool roll over the spillway.

u2metoo said...

Thanks, Johhny!

Now If I can just figure out how to put the paragraph breaks back in...