Gila River - Old Safford Bridge to Dry Canyon - 02/20

Had been watching the flow closely but the cold nights kept me from committing. Mike Watts gave a call and was interested. Third year in a row we have done this so I guess somewhat of a tradition. Initially we were each taking an IK, but Mike had developed a non-trivial leak on his Super Lynx. The pressure relief valve mounting gasket fails dramatically on older models. He switched to a 14 foot raft which was iffy with the expected flow but worked just fine. I knew the BLM rafted down to 300 CFS, but that was usually in a smaller Puma.

So it was a two-boat, two-person, two night trip itinerary with the shuttle being provided by Daniel Burell (920-965-3708). Cost was $100. Driving him up to the putin not my favorite shuttle method, but it was still much faster and easier than running our own shuttle with two vehicles. Daniel is a Safford native and always has tibits of local interest. I have shuttled with him before and would do so again. We launched at 3:30 in the afternoon with 180 CFS on the Clifton gauge.

After only two hours on the river, we camped at the cottonwood grove just before the hot springs. I had hoped to camp the second night across from Black Canyon with a plan of topping out the big cliff wall across from the canyon. Was not to be. We picked the first decent spot as the sun disappeared and the evening was fine. That made for a fairly full out day, but except for the renaissance fair traffic snafu at Apache Junction, non-eventful.

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Trip report image
USGS flow link image