Black Canyon, AZ

Part 2

We were battling ferocious currents and paddling harder and harder until it felt as if our arms were going to fall off. My kayak was spinning in circles with my dog shaking between my legs. At this point in the trip my mind was racing with thoughts such as, “This was not a good idea,” “I hope the dog is not traumatized because he loves the water,” and “Is this kayak ever going to stop spinning?” As these thoughts raced through my mind, my primal instinct of survival took over and I got out of the circling situation. The dog and I ended up on one side of the river by the canyon and my husband on the other on the low graveley beach. My only thought, I had to get safely across the river and dock the kayak to rest.

I took a deep breath and before I could attempt to try to make it across the river my husband was in the water coming to our aid. He is amazing! He paddled hard and got to us, then tried to tie the kayaks together which worked for a short while. After this he just paddled in front of us which cut a path in the water for me and I did not have to paddle as hard. We both landed on the beach, pet the dog until he stopped shaking, and hugged each other. Our desire to paddle to the base of the dam was done and we were proud we got as far as we did. Others on the water told us we could do it if we went super early in the morning, but a mutual decision was made that we made it the whole way. We took a picture and then got back in the kayaks only to float down the river with no effort needed.

The water was flowing with us this time and the dog was super relaxed. I was thankful that my best kayaking buddy would still love the water as much as I did. My husband and I were able to relax and take some pictures. On the way back we stopped at other outcoves and went exploring with the dog. We wanted to make sure the overall trip was a good experience for him. We camped out one more night before paddling home the next day. Setting up camp with shaking hands and sore limbs was an amazing experience of will. This whole excursion was an inspiration for creativity. The next day, as we floated downriver, my husband and I wrote a song about the whole experience and started singing it as we drifted. A lot was written on this night in our journal and many smiles were made on this day. 

Have a great weekend and stay safe out there!

-Karen Hilliard