And the road goes on forever...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Second Time is Not a Charm

We didn’t get a real early start for our second try at the Colorado River but we were pulling away from Squaw Lake launch before 10:30 a.m. Since it is a Monday, the river traffic has quieted significantly from the weekend and we nearly have it to ourselves until we see a few boats around Fisher’s Landing, the first major marina, fuel stop and settlement.

As we move farther upstream the mountains get closer, steeper, and the topography a lot more interesting. The tall elephant grass, impenetrable, still grows a solid shield wall fifteen feet high along the riverbank. Suddenly the small boat ahead of us pulls over to the base of some rocky cliff sides and starts snapping photos when I see movement and shout to Marc “big horn sheep!” I am able to snap a couple of quick pictures then I take over driving the boat while Marc gets some with his camera. The first two photos of the sheep have been enhanced to better show their color and definition but I left the other shots Marc took untouched. Can you spot the two sheep in the last photo? They blend in so well with this rocky terrain is it any wonder they are elusive to see? This is part of the Imperial Wildlife Refuge and even given the sparse vegetation the sheep look sleek and well fed. The one was at times standing on hind legs to eat the taller branches of the desert Palo Verde tree, only occasionally bothering to glance down at us.

Almost directly across from the sheep rocks, we note some ruins. Our river map is not real good on reference points so we are not sure what these buildings originally were. They almost look like a bridge abutment but there is no matching set on the opposite shore and if we’re where we think we are on the map, it merely reads “cable hole”. We motor on.

Not too much farther to reach our goal of Pichaco Recreation Area, the area visited on Memorial Day in the Dodge, but Marc decides he is hungry so we pull up to a sandbar and toss anchor in the middle of the river. It is very peaceful; we’re alone save for the rustling of the elephant grass in the breeze, the bullfrog croaking and birds twittering. Bird life thrives along the river. There are no sounds of civilization and to be surrounded by such a vast empty wilderness is amazing.

We pull anchor and precede about 150 yards when our motor once again starts sputtering and quits. Well, here we are, another day short of our goal. Marc pulls out the paddle to keep us from hitting the bank and we proceed to slowly drift downstream. After about a half hour of this, Marc tries to get the engine going again and with a few little fiddles here and there it manages to roar to life. Not wanting to take the risk of continuing upriver, we head for the launch at allowable speed.

The river is different today, not only from the standpoint of being nearly empty of traffic; it is also higher. The sandbars that were 4-6 inches out of the water on the weekend are now awash with at least a foot or more of water, but we find one not too far from the launch that is just looking a little too inviting to pass up since the water temperature is reading 80 degrees and the air temperatures are reaching about 110. Marc anchors, wades out and starts assembling our umbrella and setting up the lawn chairs. A couple of cold ones and we’re all set to enjoy relaxing for a few hours! “Wow, this river-dog stuff is really “cool” isn’t it, Dear?”