Alone in the river by Horseshoe Bend
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE AND FACE YOUR FEARS.
During my trip to Arizona, I contemplated whether to kayak the Horseshoe Bend.
I had only seen it from above and always wanted to see what the view would look like below the towering rocks. After two days, I’ve talked myself into kayaking the bend.
One of the things I learned when traveling alone is that you can never be at peace when you are faced with plenty of fear. I am not too fond of large bodies of water and large things towering over me especially in the dark but I pushed through.
The kayaking experience started at 10 AM. I set up my camera gear and hiking shoes for when I have to do some exploring in hidden slot canyons. I used Kayak Colorado’s service to rent a kayak, a boat to bring me to my starting point, and a wet bag. If you have any electronics or things that doesn’t usually go swimming then I suggest getting a wet bag because it definitely helped me out, more on that later.
The owners were very nice and insightful, they gave us a quick summary about places to visit and things to watch out when out in the river. They mentioned that there are two slot canyon hiking spots a few miles near the dock and to watch out for rattlesnakes and rare mountain lions.
I went in the middle of September so the weather was still very hot. I packed most of the survival kits just in case I get stuck and needed to camp for the night. I brought my Jetboil stove to cook and to boil water, extra clothes, and an all purpose blanket. None of them I used during my trip but very important to have.
I started my kayak by the famous Horseshoe Bend but they dropped me off at a nearby beach, which are home to some ancient hieroglyphs. It was definitely a great place to visit and also a good ‘cooling’ point before you start paddling.
Before, I got on the kayak and observed the different obstacles that I was told to avoid and to see where the current was going. When I was kayaking the current was quite still but with some areas flowing towards my destination.
I set up my cameras, one on my lap for photos and a GoPro that is constantly facing forward to record what I am seeing. As I set ‘sail’, I grabbed some beer in my cooler and just paddled little by little. I took it as a relaxing moment with an amazing view.
The Horseshoe Bend looked smaller than looking at it from above. It was also such weird angle that it didn’t look like what it does in pictures. I had to double check that it was the actual bend by searching for the observation deck from above, and clearly enough I saw tourist taking pictures.
I floated around the bend drinking and just enjoyed my time on the water. I would’ve jumped in but I didn’t want to destroy the ecosystem underwater and also It was freezing cold. I would last 10 minutes before I freeze.
I took my GoPro and recorded what was underwater and to my surprise I spotted a school of trout swimming underneath me and through the plants. It made me wish that I had brought my fishing rod to possibly bring some with me. The ecosystem was very much alive and I almost fell off my kayak trying to spot then from above.
For the next few hours I just let my kayak float me to the end just listening and watching the rocks. I met a couple from Utah paddle boarding the entire strand with there very restless pitbull who wouldn’t stop trying to save her owners from the water. She would constantly jump off the paddle board and swim to shore so her owners would stop.
The couple had the same mindset as I do, to keep going to uncharted places while you can and enjoy life. Then before I floated away they told me one of their secrets to happiness is to keep looking forward. So to my 2 readers, if you are still caught up with your past I think it’s time to paddle faster to get ahead.
After drifting for almost the entire route without paddling, I reached my first slot canyon. I didn’t have much time since I spent most of the time just relaxing on the river that my hike to the slot canyon grew short. I started the hike at 4 PM, 2 hours before sundown and I still have at least an hour of kayaking to go to reach the dock.
After 30 minutes in the trail, I started to grow weary about the time I had left to hike back and paddle. This when my anxiety started to kick in. When I reached my parked kayak, the sun was setting even faster. I was little scared because the wind was also kick up and the current was going the other way. I packed up all my belongings and inside my wet bag, then paddled as fast as I can.
I had my lamp mounted on my head and turned my phone off because it was at 5% battery. It was not looking good for me but I knew that it was the day for tackling most of my fears. I underestimated the distance between the hiking trail and the dock that nightfall had caught up to me. I was starting to get really cold from the water and things were more active underwater, which creeped me out from time to time because I couldn’t see what was under and I am pretty sure my kayak got lower. The rocks started to get larger and all I could do was follow the river since I couldn’t see beyond the light of my lamp.
After 2 hours, I finally reached the dock where the captain was waiting for me to retrieve the last kayak.
It was an experience I will never forget and an experience I am willing to do again despite facing more than one fear in one day.