July 2006

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Lake Pleasant Paddlers Explore Area With Ranger

Paddlers’ Notebook

By Kayak Jay

Arizona paddlers have a real friend in Terry Gerber, the ranger for Lake Pleasant Park. He is a tri-athlete and a paddle racer.

In addition to his athletic prowess, he loves to showcase his park. He set up the Lake Pleasant Paddlers to explore the resources of the park.

It is an informal group with no dues, and no rules — except to have a good time and respect the park. Gerber schedules a monthly paddle for the group and notifies everyone by e-mail of the opportunity.

The paddles are typically held on week days to avoid the heavy powerboat traffic on the weekends.

In the past year, Gerber led paddles to the Lake Pleasant Marina, the new Waddell Dam, and hidden coves around the lake. He guides the way from a 14-foot, sit-on-top and sets a pace comfortable for all levels of kayakers.

A Typical Trip

A typical trip would include everything from entry-level deck boats and sit-on-tops, to high-end sea kayaks, and all ages and both sexes. During each tour, Gerber provides knowledge of the history and features of the area and points out the wildlife.

This spring he led a special tour up the Agua Fria arm of the lake. The area had been closed for years to protect an eagle nest.

This year the resident eagles did not mate, so the county opened the area to boating. It was a real treat to visit this long-closed area of the lake and actually see the eagles. People came in from all over Arizona to participate in the May 11 tour.

We met at the North Boat Ramp at the backside of Lake Pleasant for the tour. Because of the distance to the upper Agua Fria, the Maricopa County flatboat was used to ferry 21 kayaks, one canoe, 24 paddlers, and three dogs to a landing near the mouth of the Agua Fria.

The ride on the flatboat was a little over an hour and most delightful. The group worked together to load and unload the paddle boats, and we were quickly underway.

We paddled several miles up the river, seeing the resident eagles and large jumping fish. Gerber landed on a small beach near a high mesa.

Visiting Prehistoric Ruins

While some paddlers remained at the beach to swim and relax, Gerber led the more adventuresome two miles up an ancient trail to visit prehistoric Indian ruins at the top of the mesa. The view from the ruins was spectacular and provided a commanding overlook of all activity in the area.

The ruins consisted of a fortification along the edge of the cliffs forming the mesa, and the remains of houses and storage areas inside the walls. The top of the mesa is only accessible from a narrow trail at one point on the cliffs.

The inhabitants built a "keyhole" into the fortification walls to allow sighting down the trial to identify anyone coming to the village. The hole was perfectly formed to protect the inhabitants and still allow action against any unwanted visitors.

Winding Down

We made a side trip on the way down from the ruins to see a large rock covered with petroglyphs. After a quick snack, we paddled across the river to watch a herd of wild burros grazing near the shore.

As we paddled back down the river, the flatboat appeared. It paced the paddlers for a while, and then landed on a small rocky beach. The boats were quickly reloaded for the trip back.

On the return to the North Ramp, the flat boat cruised by a small island full of wildlife. The total trip was about six hours.

For more information about the Lake Pleasant Paddlers call Terry Gerber at (602) 372-7460 x 202, or e-mail him at terrygerber@mail.maricopa.gov. If you need to rent a kayak, call Thor at (480) 968-1140, and you can always reach KayakJay at (602) 359-1354, e-mail: kayakjay@msn.co.


You may reach Arizona Boating and Watersports at:

480/947-6219 or 619/523-3091

If you would like to comment on any stories in AZBW, or tell us your story idea please contact publisher@azbw.com

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