Friday, January 23, 2015

'Friends of Helen' Trip - Days 2 & 3

With a short day ahead of us, I wasn’t in any hurry. Even so, I was on the water by 9 a.m., ahead of all but one paddler who departed well ahead of me. I found a rhythm, and enjoyed paddling along the edges of the river, watching the ducks duck into the rushes when they would see me.

It didn’t take long to cover the 7.5 miles to Picacho Main where I was surprised to see a river gauge that I don’t remember from past trips. It does make it easy to mark the inlet to the group camp sites.

The narrow channel to the Park Ranger’s boat launch and the group camp sites is immediately downstream of the bulkhead in the prior picture. It’s a very narrow entrance and can be easily missed if a person isn’t watching.

Picacho State Recreation Area is road accessible (18 miles of washboard dirt) and has 54 individual sites in the main camping area. It has water, and an RV dump, but it’s real claim to fame for paddlers is that it has solar heated showers!

The group camp site for boaters was large enough that I couldn’t get all the tents in the picture.

Picacho has a Ranger who posts info that may or may not be helpful. BJ did this trip once or twice, but said it was too cold. I suppose this sign doesn’t help my case although I was always comfortable in my sleeping bag. Just wished I’d packed the stocking cap that I’d laid out.

We were treated to a beautiful sunset and then we tried to burn up all the fire wood that people brought along. I headed to my tent before that party ended.

As soon as people started stirring on our last day, I started packing up and carrying my gear to the boat, once again choosing to paddle solo. I was rewarded with a great blue heron in the golden light of sunrise.

A couple hours down river, I spotted a bald eagle in the same area that we’re spotted them before. He was king of the sandbar, keeping a few sea gulls well down to the other end.
The trip ended at Fisher’s Landing on the Arizona side of the river, just in time to enjoy a hamburger at the cafe before heading up the road about 60 miles to Quartzsite.

It was a wonderful trip! Quiet time on the river combined with good conversations in camp. Couldn't get better!


  1. Thanks for posting...I always enjoy your blog. It's nice how you maximized your solo time...and, thanks for the reminder to pack a stocking cap for my upcoming solo camp trip. :)

    1. It was nice being on the water ahead of the majority and paddling at my own pace. I'm glad I could be of help with your gear list ;-) It was right where I left it, on the shelf when I got home!

  2. What a wonderful trip!! Best of both worlds -- solo time when you want it, camaraderie around the campfire after a great day on the river, and a trash can turkey to boot!

    1. It really was the best of both worlds - a beautiful section of quiet river and good times around the fire. TCT is always fun!