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Kayaking
Saguaro Lake
December 21, 2021
by Chuck Parsons
group
Six Arizona Trailblazers pose by their kayaks. [photo by Eileen]
Mimi, Norma, Chuck, Sandy, Glenn, Kelley

Well before 9:00 AM on a cool and overcast Tuesday morning, seven Arizona Trailblazers converge on Saguaro Lake’s Butcher Jones Beach for a morning of kayaking. We offload our kayaks and gear in the designated area next to the beach and park our vehicles. With several sets of portable wheels, we roll our kayaks over about 100 yards of sandy beach down to the edge of the lake. Much easier and more convenient than carrying up to 50 pounds of kayak and gear over the same distance. Gotta love those wheels!

After a quick round of introductions, we pose for the usual group picture, with Saguaro Lake in the background.

No typical deep blue skies over the lake today, only dull gray heavy overcast instead. But no rain whatsoever in the forecast for today. With a slight breeze blowing out of the southwest and a cool temperature of 57 degrees, we load up our gear and ease our kayaks into the water at 9:20 AM. This looks to be a perfect day for kayaking. And so far, we’re the only people on the lake this morning.

kayaks
Trailblazers prep their kayaks for launch. [photo by Eileen]
lake
The lake surface is calm and serene this morning.
[photo by Eileen]
hikers
Mimi and Sandy admire the scenery along the
lake shore. [photo by Eileen]
kayaks
Trailblazing kayakers are paddling up the lake. [photo by Eileen]
kayaks
We raise our paddles in celebration of the day. [photo by Eileen]
Chuck
Chuck taking a breather by the reeds. [photo by Eileen]

This is the second outing to Saguaro Lake for this group since the club‘s first official day kayaking trip in February. And our goal for today will be the same as it was in February—Ship Rock, a large rock formation in the middle of the lake and 2.5 miles from the Butcher Jones Beach launch point.

Mimi
Mimi in her brand new kayak. [photo by Eileen]
Sandy
Sandy is certainly having fun today. [photo by Eileen]
Norma
Norma, with Santa Bear on the bow of her kayak.
[photo by Eileen]
view
Santa Bear keeps a close eye out for lake monsters.
[photo by Kelley]
bird
This Bald eagle is looking over his domain,
high above the lake. [photo by Eileen]
bird
Now he’s looking in the opposite direction.
[photo by Kelley]
bird
This Cormorant is searching for fish from its
lake buoy lookout. [photo by Kelley]
picture
Getting airborne from the water‘s surface
isn‘t an easy task. [photo by Kelley]
bird
But definitely doable. [photo by Kelley]
Sandy
Sandy at the cave entrance. [photo by Eileen]
Mimi
Mimi at the cave entrance. [photo by Eileen]
Norma
Norma at the cave entrance. [photo by Eileen]

We‘ve had the lake entirely to ourselves for over an hour this morning, before several noisy power boats interrupt our peace and solitude. We knew it had to happen sooner or later. By the time we head back, we‘ll have seen even more power boats and a number of other kayakers and paddle boarders enjoying the lake as well. But certainly not the level of activity seen on a typical weekend.

After almost two hours on the water and 2.5 miles of kayaking, we‘re all getting a little tired and hungry by the time we finally reach Ship Rock, prominently thrusting skyward in what was once part of the original Salt River Channel. A large “DANGER” sign on one side of the rock and a prominently displayed beacon light perched on the opposite highest side of the rock clearly warns all boaters to steer clear of this large rock sitting right in the middle of the lake.

Chuck
Chuck prepares to enter the mysterious
Cave of Doom. [photo by Eileen]
view
The majestic Four Peaks dominate the
background in this picture. [photo by Kelley]
hikers
The sun persistently tries to penetrate the heavy cloud cover, but never quite makes it. [Kelley]
picture
A mysterious white cross sits high on a rocky hill overlooking the lake. [photo by Eileen]
hikers
Glenn, Eileen, Sandy, Mimi, Norma, and Chuck below Elephant Rock. [photo by Kelley]
view
Ship Rock stands guard over this section of Saguaro Lake. [photo by Eileen]

We continue paddling for several hundred yards past Ship Rock to a take-out point that we‘ve used in the past for lunch and rest breaks, but the area is now totally overgrown with tall, thick reeds. So we have to settle for a nearby rocky area of the shore instead. The time is 11:20, as we pull in here, gingerly extract ourselves from our kayaks, stretch cramped legs, and find a handy boulder or fallen tree to plop down on for lunch, while admiring the surrounding scenery. What a perfect day to be kayaking on the lake!

lunch
We beach our kayaks on the rocks. [photo by Eileen]
lunch
And get ready to take a lunch and rest break. [photo by Eileen]
Sandy
Sandy takes a lunch break sitting on her kayak.
[photo by Eileen]
Chuck
While Chuck finds a handy fallen tree.
[photo by Eileen]

Lunch and rest break over and muscles and joints somewhat relaxed and rested, we slip back into our kayaks for the return trip to Butcher Jones Beach. Thankfully, we don’t experience another capsizing incident like we encountered on our February Saguaro Lake trip and have not on any other kayaking trip since then.

When it comes to kayaking, where any number of things can go wrong at any time, we need to always be on guard and vigilant at all times. And the same is true for hiking, mountain biking, and virtually any other outdoor sporting activity. Murphy’s Law can be lurking just around the corner and ready to strike at a moments notice. Fortunately, caution, prudence, careful preparation, and advance planning go a long way on keeping old man Murphy at bay.

hikers
Chuck and Norma departing from the lunch site.
[photo by Eileen]
Kelley
Kelley is working her way around Ship Rock.
[photo by Eileen]
hikers
Norma and Mimi are approaching Ship Rock on the return trip. [photo by Eileen]
hikers
We’re all heading back to Butcher Jones Beach. [photo by Eileen]
hikers
Sandy, Mimi, and Eileen. [photo by Glenn]
hikers
Norma, Kelley, and Chuck. [photo by Glenn]

By 1:15 PM, we all arrive safe and sound back at Butcher Jones Beach. We load our kayaks and gear back into our vehicles, clean up a bit, and wish one another a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year before going our separate ways. May 2022 be a better year for all of us, with many great hiking, camping, and kayaking adventures ahead.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated December 24, 2021