Trip Report: Canoe Black Canyon, Colorado River

Canoe Black Canyon, Colorado River
By Marjorie Gendler
BOATING 03/13/2008 Class I+

Wow, my first over night river trip and what a trip it was. First and foremost I want to thank Margie for gracefully facing the challenges of organizing such an adventure, and the other river rats Tom, Lorin and Eileen for making my first overnight canoe trip so awesome.
At high noon, on March 19th we rendezvoused at my house, loaded the vehicles and we were off. We stopped in Cedar Fork to fuel the vehicles and Mesquite to fill our tummies. We spent the night near Boulder City at the Hacienda Hotel where in the morning we met our commissioned guide (outfitter) to take us to the government regulated lower portion of the Hoover Dam. Once the ride was over we thanked the outfitter and carried our gear down an incline of two hundred feet to the put in. Looking at all the stuff I was sure that there was not going to be enough room in the boats, but it did fit and on to the river we went.
The area views were spectacular; the canyon and the river were an inspiring antithesis of the dam and the huge cranes of the bridge construction. The river canyon walls were astonishing reds and pinks, weeping walls were green with the magic of photosynthesis, small inlets of water caves were alluring. The paddling was short and before I knew it we were at our takeout, Gold Strike Canyon. We pulled into an inlet with a two foot water fall. Here we were able to experience the demands of hydropower. Our boats would rise and fall as water was released from the dam to meet the electricity needs of far away people. We tied the boats and as soon as we were going to explore the canyon, Eileen saw one of the bows wedge under a small lip and begin to tip with the rise of water. Tom and Lorin suggested we unload the neatly packed canoes and carry them over the water fall to higher and safer ground. We set up the kitchen and our own sleeping areas then we were able to explore the canyon.
We scrambled over the boulders assisted by available ropes and ladders. There were five hot springs and on our way back down we tried three of them. Soon it was time to get serious about dinner. Margie and I prepared chicken chili, chips and dip, a salad and brownies. After clean up and another soak we went to bed. The morning came quickly and due to lower electricity demands the water level was so low we had carry the boats and equipment 30 feet further than the night before.
On the river again we were soon at Boy Scout Canyon. We immediately pulled our boats to high ground to avoid the inconstant water height. This canyon was also very beautiful but less steep than Gold Strike and fewer hot springs, though we were still able to enjoy them. We were on the river again in a few hours and we were paddling into a strong head wind. I was grateful that it was not too far to Arizona Canyon. Arizona Canyon is a very popular canyon and the beach was colored with many yellow canoes. We found a place to camp and unloaded the boats. Here, there was another hot spring to enjoy after just a brief walk, but it is necessary to climb a tall ladder to access it. For dinner Tom, Lorin and Eileen made chicken jambalaya, cabbage salad and strawberry short cake. The wind stayed with us and blew in a storm for the evening but left a calm late morning in its wake.
We were making good time to meet the outfitter at noon, so we decided to make an extra stop at the remains of the old gauging master's cabin dotted with wildflowers and birds. It was a short paddle down stream and we were at Willow Beach and we started the trip home.
By Pam Moritz