Saturday, January 23, 2016

9th Annual Friends of Helen trip

The sun was still avoiding any thought of rising when I backed the truck out of the garage, ready to position for the 9th Annual Friends of Helen trip. I've missed a couple, but really enjoy them. Each is different, depending on who's crazy enough to roll the dice on January MLK weekend weather. This year, it was just Kathy and I from the Phoenix area, sharing my tandem canoe.

We drove west to Blythe and then south to Walter's Camp, California where I dropped off Kathy, the boat, and all our gear. From there, I drove the nearly 100 miles around to our take-out at Fisher's Landing, Arizona. It's only 35 river miles, but the roads go every different direction except straight. At Fisher's Landing, I left the truck and caught a ride back with one of Helen's vans and some of the other trip participants.

Sunrise on Saturday was beautiful, reflecting on the backwaters of the lower Colorado River. With the clear skies, the nighttime temp dropped into the upper 30's but the weather would warm up once the sun was above the hills.

As usual, we were on the water early. The crowd tends to string out, but since I prefer quiet and calm on the river, an early start improves the chances of both. Again this year, the winds and water were calm, making for some good reflection shots.

We stopped at Draper Ranch. We'd stopped here before, but this time I was looking for a geocache. The building is standing the test of time, with the chairs still sitting out front.

Our camp for the night was the 4-S Beach Camp. 4-S is one of four outlying camps in Picacho State Park, intended for boat-in use. As usual, we shared this camp with a troop of Boy Scouts from Santee, California.

With fifteen or so of Helen's group, and only a dozen or so Boy Scouts and fathers, the camp wasn't as full as it has sometimes been. We had quite an assortment of boats including a Hoby tri hull with a sail, and Helen's dory.

For the eighth year, trash can turkey was featured on the menu along with stuffing, roasted veggies, and a couple cobblers.

Reflections of sunset painted the western face of the cliff while we waited for dinner to cook.

I couldn't get a good picture, but here's proof of the turkey being carved.

Another sunrise on glassy water. What more could a person ask?

Once again, Kathy and I were on the water first, enjoying the morning calm. When we got to the main Picacho SP area, we were able to get our tents set up and then take a hike up to an overlook just in time to spot Helen's dory drifting down the river in the growing breeze. (It's the white spot in the center of the curve.)

By late afternoon, the breeze died off, leaving us with glass again.

Another notable feature of the Friends of Helen trip is the massive amount of firewood that people bring. Sunday evening we made a valent attempt to use it all. They were still trying when I went to bed.

We weren't first on the water for the third day of paddling. I didn't get many pictures that day because we didn't like the looks of the sky behind us and decided not to wait around to see if it would rain. Back at Fisher's Landing we loaded the boat and had a hamburger before heading back to Phoenix to hang up the canoe, visit yet another doctor, and pick up the trailer.


  1. Sweet report on one of my favorite annual trips. Thanks Helen

    1. Thank You! I really enjoy that stretch of river and the people you attract.