Wednesday, January 21, 2015

8th Annual 'Friends of Helen' Colorado River Trip

A long time paddling friend puts together a lower Colorado River trip over MLK weekend every year. It’s a 35 mile section of river that I really enjoy, and we manage to stretch the trip out to three days on the river. The shuttle for the trip is miserable, to say the least – 95 miles – so I only do this trip when Helen’s organizing it.

This time, no one chose to join me, so while there were nearly 30 people on the trip, I didn’t have anyone specifically with me, which allowed me to do what I most enjoy. I got up as soon as I heard others stirring at the Walter's Camp put-in.

I got a picture of Helen’s dory as the sun was rising. It looked a bit naked without the trim colors that never cured correctly from the Grand Canyon trip removed and new colors not yet applied.

I was on the river before 8 a.m. Arizona time traveling at my own pace, hoping to quietly watch the world wake up around me. Even the Boy Scouts that always do this section over MLK weekend were just carrying gear from their truck to the dock when I left Walter’s Camp. river started out glassy smooth, and the sun was warm enough to shed the wool shirt.

Having the river to myself wasn’t enough to get this bald eagle to cooperate for me, taking flight just as I tried to get the picture. 

The Imperial Wildlife Refuge borders the river for much of the route, except the last couple miles and the section on river right where Picacho State Recreation Area is located.

The mountains looked wonderful but I didn’t see many birds. After the first hour, there was just enough breeze blowing to hide the clues the river gives about where the channel lies, but it was a tailwind – a delightful trade off.

This year there were no car campers at California's Picacho State Recreation Area’s outlying 4-S camp when I arrived, and I had the place to myself for while,

although I was watched, perhaps closely, by one of the tethered blimps that are part of border security in this area.

The quiet of camp disappeared when the Boy Scouts with their massive loads

and the rest of Helen’s friends arrived.

As has been the tradition for the past seven years, there was trash can turkey for dinner.

In this case, we actually had two 14 lb. turkeys, plus packets of roasted veggies, green bean casserole in a dutch oven, mashed potatoes, fruit salad, and dutch oven apple cobbler for dessert. 

Not bad for the first day!


  1. Replies
    1. It is very peaceful this time of year. I saw one small motorboat the second day and one the third day. Just enough current to make the paddling easy.