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Warm days like today provide us with that hastening toward Springtime feeling, though we know we’re not yet safely out of Winter’s cold embrace, our spirits our kindled with a sense of exploration and dreams of adventure. Because we’ve not yet shed the cocoon of cold time lethargy enough to embark on a new adventure this day, we transport ourselves back in time, to last Summer, whence upon we endeavored upon a harrowing exploration of the lower Arkansas River from Pueblo to Avondale. We spiritedly faced down death, disease and mild discomforts to bring you this tale of man’s triumph over nature. I remember the exaltation we felt at the culmination of our journey; a rare feeling, a sense of pride that is reserved only for humanity’s most intrepid explorers. On that day we stood shoulder to shoulder with the spirits of Shackleton, Hilary, Armstrong and, of course, Vasco daGama.
Canoeing From Pueblo to Avondale, Part I
In August of 2010, Noel Black and Craig Richardson, having heard only rumors of its passability by boat, decided to take a canoe trip down the lower Arkansas River from Pueblo to Avondale. We spoke to many fine people during the planning of this trip including the fine folks at the Army Corps of Engineers in La Junta, who pointed us to this incredibly useful Colorado Division of Water Resources website where you can find the daily water discharge levels at their many stream and reservoir monitoring sites. They also put us in touch with Las Animas local Duane Nelson, who put us in touch with his son Peter who made the paddle from Pueblo to just outside of Rocky Ford several years ago over the course of 2 and 1/2 days. Peter’s primary warning to us was that the low water irrigation dams can sneak up on you without warning and that you have to go when the water is high enough or you spend your day scraping sand bars and river rocks.
So we purchased a used Mohawk canoe from a gentleman on Craiglist for $220, borrowed some paddles and life jackets and picked a sunny day not long after a rain when the gage levels were above 3 feet, drove to Pueblo and … the audio slide show above tells the rest.
Canoeing From Pueblo to Avondale, Part II
In the first part of our journey down the Lower Arkansas River from Pueblo to Avondale, we found our way onto the river, wobbled around a bit and discovered the joys of this seldom-traveled, slow-water canoe trip. In the second part, here, we see a lot of weird things and piles of concrete, some handsome wildlife, and a lot more river-beaten trash. Then we take an unplanned dip in the river.
Also, check out this video essay of our journey.