Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kayaking and camping at Saguaro Lake

My return to Saguaro Lake's campsites was just as memorable as the first trip. Instead of canoes we rented inflatable kayaks from Arizona Hiking Shack near Thomas Road and 32nd Street in Phoenix. We inflated the two kayaks on the parking lot using the pump we were provided with. In a few minutes the kayaks were ready to go; one would carry most of the camping gear in two large watertight bags ($5 each to rent) and one person, while the other held a pump, two people and smaller items.

The possibility of the kayak beginning to deflate during our 2 mile journey from the marina to the campsite spurred knots in my stomach. But there was no turning back.

It's initially difficult to get two rowers on the same rhythm. But you flow much more efficiently once you achieve that rhythm. The views remained as impressive as our first visit. On an overcast day, the lake wasn't as populated with wake boarders and fishermen, though of the few we encountered some wondered what we were up to by kayaking so far.

 We stopped in a cove along the way to rest and snack.

Much to our surprise and excitement, the campsites were nearly empty. We only saw one being occupied by a family, but when the sun set we were the lone campers, with the exception of a couple who docked their boat and slept there.
Empty campsites at Saguaro Lake.
Our campsite had views of Four Peaks and the lake.
Sunset at Saguaro Lake.
Spider near our fire.
 After dinner the skies quickly darkened and we still had a bunch of food to put away. We weren't fast enough. Soon we heard something rustling in the bushes. Skunks. Our first instinct was to rattle our car keys and make noise to startle them away. It worked for a short time. But they would come back. Our next visitor was a raccoon. I spotted it first, and it just stared back, seemingly not afraid. It, too, ran away when we created noise. When it returned shortly thereafter, my friend threw a stick and hit it in the head. Not sure that was smart, but it worked. We heard the animals return around 3 a.m. My concern was that our tent would be sprayed by a skunk, but we made it out unscathed. What a night.

Our reward? The stunning view of sunrise that morning, reflecting off the lake, coloring the water and skies with oranges and gold.

We had to pack light. Here's a list of what we took:

  • Paper towels.
  • Eating utensils.
  • Small propane stove.
  • Water pack and water jug.
  • Wet wipes.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • 2-person tent and a 1-person tent.
  • Knife.
  • Clothes: 2 hoodies, sweatpants, hiking shoes, boots, gloves, warm hat, extra socks, water shoes.
  • Camping heater and 2 bottles of propane.
  • Food: Canned pasta, canned fruit and vegetables, hot-dog buns, turkey dogs, bananas, Wheat Thins, chips, apples, canned beans. Our friend brought steaks, instant mashed potatoes and a burrito.
  • Small hand towel.
  • Camera.
  • Watertight box to hold keys, wallets and phones.
  • Lighter.
  • Plastic bag to hold trash. (There is no trash service.)
  • Hammock.