Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Upper Salt.

More than any human I've ever personally known, Moe Witschard has the uncanny ability to fall into the shithouse and come out smelling like a rose.

Case in point, The Salt River.  Close to 10 of us applied for a permit through the lottery, only one of us won: Moe.

Exhibit B: On that same trip, in the months leading up to the trip the snowpack in the headwaters was dismal, and flows were boatable only for a very desperate-to-float demographic.  Most folks that won permits just wrote their trips off due to lack of water.  On the eve of our departure it started raining, in southern AZ, and it kept raining for days.  At put in we had triple the flows of the previous few months, and that flow sustained itself over our five days out.

The lesson, for the dim among us: Go with "Midas Moe".  

It is still incongruous to me that there is a 5-day river trip in Arizona that isn't on the Colorado.  I've spent a few (aggregate) months of my life in that parched place, and moving water just doesn't come to mind, ever, when flipping through the mental rolodex.

It really should.

Happy Jeny about to crash out after a long day of paddling.

Moe tells his best stories when caffeinated--a state he likes to cultivate and savor through each day.

Outwitting the Rat Trap.  Moe made a fantastic save ("dink!") on this one, Jeny opted to portage, while I flipped, panicked while upside down, and swam.

Nature's drill--just add water.

Fascinating geology and geomorphology down in there.

I was surprised at how little whitewater the Salt held in it's ~50 miles.  Felt like 2, maybe 3 rapids per day, then lots of time between with flat water, minor riffles, or gravel bar dodging.  Not a complaint as it was wonderful to be able to observe the ever-changing scenery.

Spring, in a word.  Happens early down there.

I recommend bringing at least an armchair geologist with you on this trip.  Moe qualified as ours, and educated us plenty.

If I had to pick one memory or factoid, and only one, to share from the trip:

Inconceivable that you can float this long, in such beautiful country, within an hour of Phoenix.

Courtesy of the low flows, we saw only two other people in our five days out.  Somewhat quixotically (we thought) that with the entire canyon empty, they chose to camp near us a few nights.

Insert heebie jeebie sound here:

Black Rock Rapid was worth a scout on our first time down.  Moe charged down the center then got pinned to the wall.  I picked a slightly more techy left entrance that gave more time to evade the wall.  I was out of sight below, rope in hand, when Jeny came through, swimming.  So I'm not sure which line she chose, only that I bet she'd not willingly duplicate it.

Navigating from the seat of her '14 Alpaca.  Note extended and rockered stern.

Heaps of scatter from early native cultures.

Flatwater paddle out on the last day gave time to savor and reflect on the past few.  Unless there was a lot more water I think 5 days was a great pace to get plenty of camp time and a hike-a-day.

Thanks to Moe for the permit, impetus, and heaps of laughs along the way.

Thanks to Jeny for, well, everything.

Thank you for checkin' in.