Tuesday, November 11, 2014

T774 Colorado River Trek - Hoover Dam to Willow Beach

Two years after our last river trip, the troop headed out to the desert for another trip down the Colorado.  This time, the plan was to put in at Hoover Dam and float to Willow Beach camping at Arizona Hot Springs.  The total float miles was only 12 so a bit shorter than last time.  However, there is lots more to do along the river this time.
We drove up Saturday to Willow Springs to rendezvous and camp for the night.  The campground was very nice with good sites, showers and all the amenities.  The scouts immediately headed to the hills to run around after the long 6 hour drive.
We woke up at 5a in order to meet Jerkwater near the dam at 7a.  Everyone ate quickly, packed up and we all drove to the parking lot at the Hacienda hotel along the 93.  We needed to be there on time since the dam launches are very restricted for security reasons.  The launch site was right below the dam, just down river from some of the output tunnels.  Due to the low water of the river, the launch was very rocky and it was hard to get the canoes and gear all positioned.  But we all got on the water without any issues!  We started paddling and quickly came to the first stop, Sauna Cave.  The "cave" was a small grotto that had some heated spring water coming out of it and it made some steam to look like a sauna.  I wasn't aware of the geothermal activity in the area but we would see more of it as we traveled.  The next big stop was Boy Scout Canyon.  It had a nice sandbar to land at and we explored the heated stream that formed the canyon.  Someone had placed sandbags to form pools that were pretty neat.  We also saw the first of the amoeba warning signs!  We got to our campsite at Arizona Hot Springs pretty easily since it was only 4 miles from the dam.  We pulled up our canoes onto the beach and setup camp.  There was another troop already there but we found plenty of space.  Later in the day, an outdoor group from UCSB came upstream and setup camp as well.  We did some more exploring up the canyon and found a ladder to help us up to one set of pools.  The water got hotter the higher up the canyon you went.  The last pool was so hot I had to run through it!  Everyone ate dinner and hit the sack.
I woke up at dawn after one of my best nights sleeping ever!  I think it was the sandy ground.  As we packed our tents, one of the adults found a scorpion underneath theirs!  We got on the water around 9:30a and started for our 8 mile day.  Paddling started out fine but the wind picked up pretty quick and we made slow time for a few miles.  We stopped for lunch at a big sandbar and wondered if we would make it to the takeout point in time for our 2p deadline.  Bengt switched with another younger scout you was having some difficulty.  Thankfully, the wind died down and we made good time past the gauging station, Emerald cave and the old fish hatchery.  We got to Willow Beach right at two to clean and load the canoes on the trailers.  It was a pretty quick ride back to the hotel parking lot.  From there, we quickly gathering our gear and everyone scattered for the long drive home.

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