Colorado River Canoe Trip 1978

When I was a graduate student, the university outing club organized a four day canoe trip down the Colorado River, from Needles to Lake Havasu.  This section of the river passes through a deep gorge, and has no rough water, making it a great trip for beginners.   None of us had any experience with canoes, so we spent several evenings and weekends in the pool and in local lakes, practicing getting into a capsized canoe, swimming fully clothed, maneuvering, and so forth.

We assembled outside the town of Needles, getting ready while a few of the group shuttled cars. 

The trip was planned as four days and three nights, over the Thanksgiving break. 

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The first part of the trip was through calm water.  Here we were crossing a beaver dam.

This is my canoe partner Judy.

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By the end of the first day, it had started to rain.  we made camp as planned, in a local park. 

Judy brought some wonderful turkey breast fillets, which she shared with several of us. 

This being the California desert, I was not too worried that it would continue to rain.   But it did.  The whole next day, it was rainy and windy, and we stayed in camp.

The outing club offered to let us use their tents and sleeping bags.  I was afraid my tent would be damaged so I used their tent.  Big mistake -- it leaked badly and soaked the sleeping bag. 


By the end of the second day, after hanging around all day wet in the tents, most people were ready to go home.  The rest of us found a laundromat to dry our sleeping bags, and hoped for better weather the next day.

By the evening, when this picture was taken, the clouds were lifting, and we could begin to see the gorge beyond.  These must be what gave "Needles" its name.

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The next day was cold, but at least it was not raining, as we headed toward the needles.
As the day progressed, the weather got warmer and we got deeper into the gorge.
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In one of the other canoes were two geology majors, who were constantly pointing out facts and details of the the formations we were passing through. 
Stopping for a snack.  I cannot figure out how the apparent alluvial fan in the background is emerging from a gap in the rocks.
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The contrasting colors of the rocks added to the mystery of the place.
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The day got warmer as we neared Lake Havasu.  Some people even took a swim in the river alongside the canoes.
The contrast between the barren desert hills and the grasses beside the river was striking.
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We had planned to take two days for this section of the trip, but because of the rain we had to do it all in one day.

Many of the others were traveling slowly, so we held back a bit to stay together.  But as it began to get dark, we decided we better get going. 

We reached our destination as the sun was setting.  By now the sky was clear.   The stars that night were spectacular.  I cannot remember a time when I could see more stars in the sky. 
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