Letters Home upon first coming West

description of the Parker strip


Earp, Calif.

Dear Folks,

I am sitting in my camp just below the last dam before Yuma. It's cold & I'm letting the sun thaw out the world before continuing. The wind that I wrote of previously blew from the 27th until the 3rd. Then it got cold. Last night my canteens froze for the first time since leaving the Grand Canyon. There's also frost on my sleeping bag, though I sleep warm with my down jacket & stocking cap.

On the 4th, Sunday I portaged around Parker Dam. It was a short portage. I carried every thing in two trips & was done by 1:30. That left 3 hrs of daylight, time enough to get 12 mi down river. I camped at a commercial campground for $2.50. With the camp came all the hot shower I could use. Sure felt good after a week without. The reason I camped at a commercial campground was that the entire 16 mi of river between Parker Dam and Headgate Rock Dam is lined with cottages, resorts, campgrounds, etc. It is the most developed stretch of the river that I've seen.

Yesterday I paddled the remaining 4 mi to Headgate Rock Dam by about 11:00. Then problems. I had a hard time finding a way around the dam & back to the river. On the Ariz side is a canal in a deep steep gorge with no way down and no way of telling where it goes & no way over it for a couple of miles. On the Calif side there is a marsh with no open channel to the river. Finally I found a way between the river and the marsh. It was nightfall before I got launched again so I didn't come far.

The river has changed a lot since leaving the canyons of Lake Mohave. The water level changes less now & there is flat land on either side. The river meanders though the flood plain which is marsh & grassland. Willow, Mesquite, Tamarisk & other shrubs line the banks. Cattails and other reeds & grasses (some 12 foot high) cover the marshy areas & afford numerous ducks, geese, coots, grebes, loons, cranes, herons & other birds protection & food.

The sun is high enough & warm enough so I guess I'll climb out of the sack & head into Earp, mail this & get a few groc. Earp is named for Marshal Wyatt Earp who did some prospecting around here after his Tombstone days. It's the first town that I've come to that's been here before all the dams were built.

   Love to all,


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edited by Peter J Wait, 9/13/00 12:44:36 PM