Gila River - Kelvin to Ashurst-Hayden Diversion Dam - Allan Watt's Trip Report

6/16/07 - Paddled the Gila River from Kelvin to the Ashurst-Hayden diversion dam with Gene Couch, Mark Jibilian, and Sandy at 600 cfs. This was the first time I met face-to-face or paddled with any of them and the first time I paddled this section of river. I had met Gene on the Internet. I left home at 6:10, got gas in Florence, met them at McDonald's in Florence, headed E on E Butte Ave, which became the Florence-Kelvin Highway, and took the first major left (Whitlow Ranch Road on the Gazetteer and on Google Maps, but no road sign. Watch the odometer for this turn.) to the dam. From near the Dam we went E until we could get down near the river, requiring 4wd for the last little bit. We left a vehicle there (my 2000 4runner) and took the FK highway to Kelvin, arriving at 10:30, and launched from under the bridge(shade). Another option would have been to use the road on the N side of the river and take out near Price, and then run the shuttle through Superior. But the FK highway was a good dirt road, and the way we did it would be hard to beat.

We only got off of the river once for a 30 min break, and were to the take out by 4:45. We paddled downstream some, but not nearly as much as we could have, and had a good current all of the way. There were no rapids, but a few riffles that splashed me in my NRS Bandit. Avoiding strainers was the only challenge, but I never felt at any risk and would do it in a tandem with a kid, or in a canoe. There were a few places where we had to paddle to one edge of the river to avoid strainers, and in a few places had to get brushed by small branches a little bit. 600 cfs was plenty. I only scraped bottom a few times, and only had to get out once when I chose the wrong course. I would do it at less flow, but if there was a lot less, would be worried about it taking too long for one day. I am not sure that I would let Ted (9) paddle his own boat at this point, but probably would soon. It would be tubable by an aggressive and attentive tuber, but it would take longer than it did for us. A West wind of 8-13 mph was forecasted, with gusts up to 23 mph, and we had some headwinds, but not bad. The forecast was for 108 in Florence, and I swam several times and poured water on myself constantly to keep cool. I drank less than 3 liters of water, even though I was making an effort to keep hydrated. We looked for access to the coke ovens, but did not find any obvious route through the tammies. I looked for, but did not see, the place where we crossed and camped in 2003.

We saw lots of wildlife including several types of yellow birds (including yellow with black), and several red birds. Mark said one was a vermillion flycatcher. We also saw red tailed hawks, great horned owls, blue herons, snowy egrets, vultures, and two otters (the one I saw was either an otter or a beaver, or something similar, I could not tell). I drove Mark and Gene to Mark's Explorer at the put in. Gene didn't want to stop for dinner, but I picked something up in Apache Junction and was home before dark (probably by 7:30).

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