Salt River-Float on

We spent 3 nights floating the salt river covering 52 miles. The Salt River is located about an hour and half east of Phoenix AZ. Due to a very wet and cold winter in AZ the Salt River was flowing good and was at what a guy at the putin said, the “fun” level. This was up for debate though. 

Day 1

We launched around 2:30 on a Thursday and immediately took a wrong turn at the first rifle we encountered called “kiss and tell”. First lesson learned is don’t follow Konst and you should kiss and tell. Konst defiantly didn’t tell as he provided no warning to us. The two rafts went right which lead directly into an eddy and we had to oar back into the current which pushed you right into a rock. Now we know. All was well until both rafts got stuck in “bump and grind”, which is exactly what we had to do to get off the cobble bar we were stuck on.  The rest of the day was uneventful, which is always a good thing. We went 13 miles that day and rolled into camp just as it was getting dark.

Day 2 started with several class III rapids. The first class IV was eye of the needle which we scouted. 

Eye of the needle

At this rapid the river is funneled between a bedrock wall and a large bedrock projection that blocks the right and middle of the river. Above eye of the needle a class II entrance rapid exists with a wave train and a large hole. We completely avoided this wave train and skirted it to the left. Amanda and Matt the other couple we were floating with followed a cat boat right into the hole, the cat boat easily floated over the hole, but this was not the case for Amanda and Matts super puma. They got stuck in the hole and began an epic surf, playing find the high side. Unfortunately, the hole won and ate Amanda. She was sucked down three times before eventually being rescued by the third boat from another group right before eye of the needle. We missed all of this as we were the last boat of about 10 to go through because our bow line was tangled and Matt had to stuff it back in. Understandingly, Amanda was pretty upset and shook. She had to get back in the boat and immediately go down black rock rapid another class IV.

Scouting black rock

Luckily this rapid was uneventful except for Matt yelling “shit, we are gonna hit it” as we hit the hole we were trying to avoid. We bounced right out though. 

Heading for the hole
Hitting the hole

We decided to find a camp sooner than planned before taking on the next series of class III’s and IV’s. We camped near mile 25. 
Salt dripping from the quartz
Unamused at my incessant requests

After Konst broke into his bag of wine he becomes talkative and hypothesizes that Amanda will endure one more class IV swim. Not cool Konst! Not cool! Little did he know he was the next swimmer. 

Day 3 included 3 more class III’s and 3 class IV’s. This included a lot of scouting and a lot of arguing between Matt and I! Quartzite rapid is a class IV with a fin (rock) in the middle of the rapid with a large hole river right. Since the river was running at a high enough level there is a sneak on river left that you can take.

Quartzite rapid

We almost did not take this route as Matt thought he could forward paddle into the rapid. As I was sitting and holding the boat while Matt was scouting I saw the river pull rafts to the right. I tried to tell Matt this and that he should have his back to the left rock wall since your backstroke is stronger. 

Pointing out the correct line

He dismissed my comments and said that he was gonna push forward. I was starting to have flashbacks to when Matt tried to push forward on the Rogue River through blossom bar, and we got stuck on a rock. Anyways off we went, me still trying to convince Matt to turn the boat and him just saying, “I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do.” His tune soon changed when we got to the top of quartzite falls as the river was pulling us right. Matt yells new plan we are turning the boat (my plan all along!!!).  Since this rapid has a steep drop we had time at the top of the rapid to turn the boat. All the while I’m at the front of the drop two feet from the fin and thinking we are gonna go down the wrong side. We were able to adjust the boat and hit the correct line, not without the oar banging into the rock wall and smashing against Matt’a knee. The oar extender got bent and we were unable to remove the paddle so we had to switch out both oars for our backups before the next rapid. Right below quartzite rapid is corkscrew rapid a class IV. We went first and set up safety at the first possible eddy which wasn’t really an eddy and was quite a ways below the rapid. With rescue line in hand I waited for the raft to make it through. They cleanly made it down, Konst in his IK hit the last hole of the rapid and flipped. Matt was oaring to keep us from floating down but we basically had to wait for Konst to float to us. Since Konst was unable to rite his boat I threw the rescue line to him. At first I couldn’t pull him in as he wouldn’t let go of his heavy boat that was geared down so I just let go of the line and waited for the boat to catch him. Once the line was fully extended I was able to pull Konst in. I had a difficult time getting Konst in the boat as his method could use some improvement. He kept going feet first, turns out that does not work! After much discussion he finally gave up on the feet first method and let us pull him in. We then got his boat, flipped it and off he went. Farewell Konst, see you at camp I guess. 

Day 4 was an easy float to the take out! It was a great trip with great people and great food!-SS

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