White Rock and Black Canyons

This trip was cancelled. It had been planned for several months, but because the government decided on a last minute paving job on the access road to the Hoover Dam launch site, they refunded all permits. I wrote everyone to give them other options, and Desert Adventures was graceful enough to offer alternatives. I figured that it would be better to take a raincheck.

A group of medical students are still planning on going, and after talking to Jacob, I decided at the spur of the moment to just join in. Instead of packing my usual dSLR, I figure that I can try using my phone camera. Hopefully, things turn out. All their meals had been planned, so I figure I will be able to contribute a little. It’s now Friday afternoon, and I pick up some supplies at Stater Bros. We meet up at Jacob and Jeremy’s place, then pile into Jeremy’s station wagon. It’s me and the students: Brenden Matus, Jacob Mayor, Tony Pacini, Christoff Van Niekerk, and Jeremy Weaver. Near Cal State San Bernardino, we start smelling antifreeze. It’s better to turn back. Brenden and I both offer to drive, and after a long road trip, we pull into our campsite at Boulder Beach, Lake Mead National Recreational Area.

The Saturday morning wake up routine goes fairly quickly, and we make it to the Hacienda Hotel parking lot earlier than scheduled. Scott from Desert Adventures pull up the kayak trailer; we toss in in our gear and jump into the van. Scott drops us off at White Rock Canyon trailhead. The hike down winds along the bottom of a picturesque slot canyon, and the trail spits us out right at White Rock beach. Across a rock scramble, we arrive at Arizona Hot Springs. Desert Adventures tow our gear and kayaks up to the beach by the campsite. In the meantime, we head for the first hot spring soak.

After organizing the gear and kayaks, we paddle upriver to the sauna cave, which was drier than usual. The next highlight is Goldstrike Hot Springs. This canyon has an amazing string of springs and waterfalls, all with varying temperatures. The best one sits just below a ledge fed by a hot waterfall, and about a stone’s throw from this place known as “the shower.” We soak there for a long time before heading back to our kayaks.

The paddle back to camp proves to be very easy, especially compared with the upstream stretch. We set up camp right at the river’s edge, take in one last soak in the hot springs, and then cook dinner around nightfall. By 7:30, we are all out—except for Brenden, who is irritated by the fireworks from our camping neighbors.

After eleven hours, we all awake to the brightening sky. Of course, the day starts out with several rounds of French press coffee. Then, we have a breakfast of eggs, hash browns, chili, avocados, oatmeal. We pack up, head for one last soak, and then push off down the Colorado River. We have lunch and a nap along a sandbar. Then, we explore the catwalk and Emerald Cave. At the beach next to mile maker 54, the students peak bag this peak while I continue my nap.

We all pull into Willow Beach earlier than expected, but then we take the scenic route home, stopping for gas, at REI, for dinner. Wishing we can have those natural hot springs and slot canyons back home to soak in after an awesome trip like this.

The phone camera didn’t turn out too badly, but I did miss having a nice camera.

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