Thursday, January 27, 2022

Lake Pleasant Regional Park Kayaking, Hiking, etc.

The north boat launch. I suppose the distant mountains are part of the Bradshaws.

I arranged a three day weekend, and one of the days I went down to the Valley of the Sun to enjoy a kayak trip on Lake Pleasant, a reservoir just beyond the outskirts of Phoenix and Peoria. The water level is down a little, like most of the reservoirs in the Desert Southwest, but not as much as Lake Powell or Lake Mead.

Entrance to a side drainage. Many of these have slot canyons in them, but I couldn't get back into more than a couple due to so many people fishing. At least, I couldn't get back into them without being discourteous and disrupting their fishing.

The lake's level was around 1680 feet above sea level, pretty far down into the Sonoran Desert ecoregion, and features typical scenery and the statuesque saguaro cacti so thoroughly associated with Arizona. As it was a Sunday, there were too many people, but most Arizonans are intimidated by air temperatures less than about 85 degrees, so it could have been worse. Most of the boats there were fishing, but there were a few other paddlers.

The end of a slot canyon. Sorry about the bad lighting! Unfortunately I got distracted by the brackish water and forgot to take the money shot that showed the sinuous path I had to paddle to get back in there.

I avoided the more crowded main part of the Lake Pleasant Regional Park and launched at the boat launch on the northern end of the lake. From there it is possible to paddle up into some side drainages with mini slot canyons. Unfortunately there were people fishing in almost all of them. I continue to be astonished at the popularity of fishing in the desert. Even though I grew up fishing, I say it's a ridiculous hobby if you live a dry desert. (I grew up in Indiana, where water is everywhere).

Obviously the water level is down. The water levels in most lakes in the Southwest are down. There was a gate open to allow people to drive in and setup camp.

The weather was beautiful. I wore my Sweet Strutter kayaking helmet, not because I thought I would hit my head, but because it has a very deep bill that provides sun protection. Nonetheless, sun reflected off the water and burned me. Unfortunately I'm out of sunscreen.

These were the only cliffs in sight, a point of interest for boaters but not as good as the sea cliffs I saw in La Jolla Cove, California last year. The saguaro almost looks like a telephone pole to me.

It was a good paddle, but there were too many people. I enjoyed the workout, the cliffs and distant mountains, and the beautiful Sonoran desert surroundings, but eventually got tired and headed back to the boat ramp.

A view from the Pipeline Canyon Trail.

After this I ate some leftover pinto beans from El Pollo Loco wrapped in a flour tortilla and looked for a trailhead to get in a hike. I found the Pipeline Canyon Trail, which intersects with some other trails, and headed out. Unfortunately Strava inexplicably crashed and chopped off a few tenths of my track, but I think it ended up being about a 3 mile hike out and back to where the trail ends in a side branch of the lake. Along the way it travels uphill through a saddle and back down. I'm unsure which side of the saddle is Pipeline Canyon, because I never saw a pipeline, but it was all beautiful Sonoran desert hiking. I saw a lizard and few birds, but much fewer than I've experienced in other parts of the desert. This is especially surprising considering the abundance of water in the area. I did see a lot of deer droppings though.

A view towards the lake, somewhere around the crest of the trail on a saddle.

The day wore me out and I had trouble getting motivated to go skiing the following day. I visited downtown Flagstaff, which I rarely do these days since I started working from home, and ate lunch at the Lumberyard microbrewery. I don't think I've been there since before the pandemic! I walked around and photographed a church I've thinking about painting, then finally I got motivated to go up to the ski resort to finish off the day. I effectively used up my three day weekend. I love a short work week!

The natural stone church on Beaver Street, in downtown flagstaff. Built in 1939 from local volcanic rock.

Strava Track (truncated by software issue)

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