and Paddle on Chevelon Canyon Lake
Mogollon Rim, Arizona
Chevelon Canyon Lake is one of the Mogollon Rim's recreational lakes. It is located about 40 miles northeast of Payson in central Arizona. The lake is a little over 200 acres in size and is located in the bottom of a steep sided canyon. It is managed as a blue ribbon lake for trout with only lure or fly fishing permitted. Fish between 10" and 14" must be returned to the lake.
The lake is one of the more remote in the area-accessible only by dirt road and none of those roads go directly to the lake. If one wants to fish from a boat, then it must be carried down a steep, rough road about 3/4 of a mile past a locked gate.
I talked my brother-in-law into accompanying me on a trip to the lake in May of 2011. We were anxious to try out a kayak cart that I had received as a gift. I knew that it would get a real workout off the canyon rim down to the lake.
We decided to take one of my canoes, wear our backpacks and push/pull the canoe down to the lake. Once at the lake, the plan was to load the packs, and the cart, into the canoe and paddle up the lake until we came across a camp site. We intended to stay for three days.
It took us approximately an hour to walk/carry the canoe down to the lake. A strap on the cart that was supposed to keep the two cradles from opening too wide broke a short distance down the road. A temporary repair got us nearly to the lake before it also failed. Rather than attempt a second repair, we strong armed the boat the last few yards down to the dam.
It took only a short while to load up the canoe, but by the time that was accomplished the wind had really come up and was pushing the water around pretty dramatically. We debated whether to sit it out for a while, and let things calm down, but finally decided to give paddling a try.
The idea was to hug the shoreline and try to make it from one sheltered point to another. We thought that if it got to be too serious, or overpowering, that it would be simple enough to pull over and wait it out. It was very strenuous paddling. Unfortunately, the direction that we wanted to go was directly into the wind! The water was really reacting, with whitecaps on the waves. Whenever the wind seemed to let up a bit, we pushed forward, rested, and then paddled hard on to the next sheltered point.
It probably took us a couple of hours to reach the upper end of the lake. Once there, we had our choice of campsites. We selected one and essentially crashed for the rest of the day. It had been a pretty exciting afternoon and we had gotten a darn good upper body workout!
The rest of the trip turned out to be rather anti-climatic. The wind never came back with the force that it had on day one. We spent the remaining days, cruising around and sightseeing the lake. As for the fishing, we only caught one fish and it was just barely legal. We also walked the section of Chevelon Creek just above the lake. The creek was running and the area was quite scenic.
We essentially had the south end of the lake to ourselves. We saw no other campers. There were a couple of dayhikers/fishermen who came down off the rim but they were only at the lake for a few hours.
The hike out with the canoe on the 3rd morning was a real effort! It was much harder lifting the canoe up and over obstacles than letting it down over them. I had replaced the broken strap on the cart with many wraps of polypropylene rope that had been our bow line.
The repair held with no damage to the rope. We leapfrogged the canoe and our backpacks up the road to the truck. So, in effect, our return trip was twice as long as it should have been! But, we did finally make it, much to the amazement of several people who said they had had a hard enough time just trying to walk up the hill with no packs or boat!
I had no prior experience with a canoe/kayak cart before this trip. Although an important strap broke shortly after we started down the trail, I was very impressed with the performance of the cart. As can be seen in the video, we did not baby it! The broken strap was the only injury. The metal tubing and plastic fittings seemed to survive just fine. The cart is from Wheeleez. It is the model with the "Tuff-Tires". They are no flat tires filled with foam.
The youtube videos were taken by my brother in law.