Salt River Wilderness - Gleason to the Bridge - Labor Day 2017 - Allan Watts TR

The vast majority of this trip was either paddling across still pools or trying to avoid rocks in cobble-bar rapids. We always had to go where the water was deepest and were able to run the vast majority of the rapids without getting out of the IKs to drag them, but most of the ones that we were able to run we hit at least some rocks and often had to thrust the boat or shift our weight to get unstuck. Both the still pools and rapids were a lot of work and there was hardly any time where we could just float along in the current. In most places if we stopped paddling we either stopped moving or hit a rock and got stuck. We had some head wind right after lunch on Saturday but it did not last long and certainly could have been a lot worse. It was more work than we would have liked on both Saturday and Sunday but everyone did well. Mike had bought Tom Martin’s river guide at Wide World of Maps and that was the only guide book we had. We probably would have done ok without it, but it was nice to know how far we had to go. I had run this section twice before, the most recent one less than a year ago at about 200 cfs, and Mike had run it at least twice before and Michelle once before. This was Sam’s first time on this section. We ran the first rapid, Eye of the Needle, at river mile 21.4, which is rated class III, without scouting, based on my memory from last time. Someone else went first for the top part and I went first for the bottom part. The key was to pull left at the bottom and I pointed for the others to do so. It went well for all of us and was exciting. We scouted Black Rock, mile 22.1, rated class IV, on the left and lined it. I had run it last year but was not motivated to do so this year. The flow was about the same, but my bad swim on the Verde has probably made me more cautious and I was not confident that I could keep the boat under me or avoid wrapping it or getting stuck in the pour over. In addition, I did not really want Michelle to run it. We had no uncertainty about where any rapids were and had little risk of being swept into them unintentionally at this flow. We used two lines and two people for some of the boats to line Black Rock but I did not think that the second line added anything. I would recommend one person and one line per IK, perhaps with a person available to help push the boat if needed. We handed (portaged) the boats down the last drop and that took 3 people per boat to get them down and it was hard to hold the boats below while the others were being handed down. After I launched, I went back up to help Mike pull his Super Lynx out of the water fall so he could launch.

We ran Devils’s Pendejo (III, mile 26.5), and Upper Corral (II, mile 27) late in the day without scouting and they pushed us around a bit but we all came out right side up. We camped the first nigh on rock ledges at river mile 29 above Lower Corral Canyon and rapid and just above where I had camped with Jon Fuller and Eddie Slade last year. It was a great camp from my perspective as it was easy to get out onto bedrock and there were flat places higher up to sleep that were also easy to get to. I could not tell that anyone had camped there before. It was possible to hike up behind the camp higher to ground where I saw an old trail and cut lumber. I made a small fire by the river and there was plenty of fire wood and I cooked hot dogs and then splashed water up in the morning with the paddle to wash off the ashes. I took a bath in the river after dark and washed my hair and was not cold and got out on the bedrock to dry off without dealing with any mud or sand. I do not remember being hot at camp but it was about 5 pm by the time we got there. We all partially deflated our IKs and slept in the boats and that worked fine for me. There were mosquitoes during the night and they bothered Michelle a lot. I slept in my long pants and long sleeve shirt and socks and most of the night it was too warm to cover myself completely with my unzipped summer bag. I never got inside it or zipped it on this trip and it was not cold even in the mornings when we got up. I never put on my fleece but used it as a pillow case. I woke up a lot but slept between waking up and felt rested in the am.

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