The Arizona desert has had my heart for years. It started at an early age going to the Havasu with my parents sleeping under the stars during the crazy hot nights and playing on the river. It was a simpler time those days and now every time I go it never fails to bring those feelings back. As I got older and life got hard I would escape to the river, something about the strength of the Colorado River cutting through the solid rocks of the desert would center my sole. Maybe it is the contrasting colors of the water rushing through the desert landscape. In Topok it’s the red rocks towering high above the river brightening up the green water as it cuts through the gorge or as the water reaches the dam in Parker turn blue as the light tan sandy washes empties out like finger tips into the rushing deep river. It maybe it’s the lush bamboo and desert sage that embraces the river and holds it close on The Crit as it trickles down the desert farm lands into Blyth. Whatever it is the beauty is forever embedded on my heart. The landscape always changing but somehow holds onto its charm and attractiveness.
This past year I have gotten to experience The Crit, a new part of the river for me. I have been to Bullhead and Blyth and almost everywhere in between except for the The Crit Indian Reservation. I have only been down Mohave Road also known as the 1 a few times taking a detour home and the only thing I remember is all the farming that lined the highway. If you pull off the highway and head down the dirt roads aiming for the river you see all the different crops of alfalfa, cotton, and duram wheat. It amazes me that anything would grow in the summer heat but the bright green crops hold strong in the 100+ heat. The maze of roads take you along dirt roads of crops and bright blue irrigation channels that hold fish and crawdads.
Once you pass through the flat lands of farm you reach a dirt road that runs parallel to the river, on both sides of the Colorado you can follow along the river for miles and miles finding hidden oasis.
During our September summer trip our first find was a small wash that emptied out onto the water giving us front row parking to the amazing river.
The next day on our way home we found paradise tucked away on the California shore line. We turned off the highway onto a washed and followed it down. We thought that we hit a dead end when we came to some brush that hide the water but as we got closer there was a small opening the we could drive through that lead us to a beach that supplied us with a spectacular view of the Colorado. The greens and browns popped all around us as the water danced over the grassy shoreline. There was an island in front of us giving us privacy at our secret beach. The day seemed to fly by as we fished and played. And just like that our trip was over and it was time to start heading home.
Our 2nd trip was during December. We only planned on going out there for the day so we were on the road by 3am which got us on Rice Road just in time to see the sunrise. As a 20 something I used to make the trips to the river just in time to the see the sunrise. It was always a highlight of the trip. The desert in the morning has this claim quite presences just before the sun peeks it rays over the landscape. During the winter it feels like the coldest part of the morning and during the summer it’s a short relief from the scorching heat. We made it to our destination within 3 hours and ended up in a wash exploring the sandy desert that is usually too hot during the summer months. We spent the day shooting at targets, exploring the off road trails and listening to nature all around us. By 9pm we were on our way home, the trip was short but by far worth the drive.