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Verde River Paddle- Horseshoe to Bartlett, AZ
mini location map2016-02-28
11 by photographer avatarUberdroog
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Verde River Paddle- Horseshoe to Bartlett, AZ 
Verde River Paddle- Horseshoe to Bartlett, AZ
Kayak2.49 Miles 425 AEG
Kayak2.49 Miles
425 ft AEG45 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
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So let me setup my tale with a simple email and a link that I sent.

Link Someone have Patrick's contact info?

Just not much information out there about this section of the river. Maps and satellite were of no help as with the varying levels of water. The last satellite was from 11/2015 that I could find and even that was dry a good portion of the way. I picked up two things. Most likely always stay left and this is not a float down the salt.

I followed up with this Link

Very little conversation was had over the actual trip down river which is my lesson learned on this trip. Someone mentioned we might get wet and then there was agreement that it would be preferred to not. Then most of the chatter was about customizing kayaks and logistics for travel. Let's go back to the original email and the third line in the link?

The average Arizona whitewater rafting or kayaking river tends to be harder to run than those in other states, so if you're visiting here do keep in mind that many of the sections here are not safe for beginners.

And there you have it. The rest is history.

We spent a good evening camping out under the stars. I love just pulling up and sleeping in the back of the truck. The moon was great, the weather was great...everything was great!

Woke up early and had some coffee. The plan was to drive two trucks to the flats, drop one off and head back to the Dam before the rest of the party showed. They were earlier than expected and we were running late (guys and their tents ;) ) Once all that happened it was much to get the kayaks on the water. Catfish point is excellent access right at the damn. I mentioned to everyone that of all the times I had been here fishing over the past few years I had not seen water coming out at such a rate. No one was concerned. In fact a couple of us paddled pretty close to the outlet to watch. The water was cold and it was moving. As expected the first portion was mild as we trolled past the campgrounds. Everyone had their first beer out and ready to go.

Probably a half mile in or so after you round the campgrounds at fisherman's point we hit the first set of rapids. Nice set of heavy class I riffles maybe II. Nothing to be scared of but someone could have taken a dump in the drink if they were not paying attention. It was exciting and the group enjoyed it.

At several points I mentioned 3 things. We may come across a few portage spots, that there was some area's I was aware of that were like a maze and "Always Choose Left".

Well...we found the maze. We did not choose left. And we did have to port...right back to the road with our tails between our legs.

Very quickly the wide open narrowed into 2 or 3 separate paths. We should have been all the way to the left for the best opportunity and widest area. Instead we were jetted down a 4 foot wide tunnel of reeds and tamarisk. There was no controlling where you were going and paddles just got caught in the reeds helping spin you around. Then as I watched one of our party make it through a small pool area the other 5 of us took a swim. The water was cold but not lose my breath cold which I was afraid of. The water was moving fast which made it difficult to hold onto our submerged kayaks. Another member of our party was swept away holding onto the back of his kayak like a body board. So here we are, two people missing and no one in a boat. Luckily the core of our bodies were out of the water so we had time to pump all 4 kayaks. After a few minutes our boogie boarding buddy walked through the tamarisk, checked on us and continued down stream to find the one and only to make it through. I never once felt I was in danger. I could have let go of my kayak at anytime and just walked out of the water. We al managed to get our kayaks empty and successfully re-boarded which was a feet in itself.

We were again shot down a tunnel of reeds but were abruptly forced into a dead end. The only mystery was where our friend was. He had to come this way. There was no other way. Ends up he bushwhacked back to the water, dragged his kayak and was again dumped in the drink but this time he was separated from his boat and swam his way through. I still need to get his experience with that. I'm sure the moment you watch $600 worth of gear float away your not in top spirits.

We scouted because kayaks full of beer are heavy ;) So lets flip back about two hours where we were making fun of each other for the whistle that comes with some vests. Hearing the single blast of that whistle was a relief. At least one of our missing party was near. I returned two blasts and they were quickly located. We had happened upon a cove that I had said earlier "If we end up here we took the wrong way." Both people were on the opposite shore so we decided they would float to the beach a few yards away and we would carry our kayaks to the road. Again mistakes were made. In the excitement I should have looked at my GPS with TOPO. Either way we ended up carrying further than we could have and backtracked anyway.

We lost a pump, a hat, a paddle and some glasses. Not too bad for a group highly unprepared for the adventure they had undertaken.

I think I am one of the only ones who wants to go back out and get more of this area explored. There is some good water and wilderness to access this way. It is tough because there are very short windows where the water is high enough.

After the fact everyone became a master at investigation and found all sorts of information on the internet but a little too late.
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