Posted by: evanstafford | May 10, 2010

Old Man or Sickbird Spring Break Part III: Seperating the Boys from the Men – Sycamore Creek

Sycamore Creek Saguaro and Class V wonderland: Photo Ryan

After two long days of off the couch hucking and a long cold wait in the dark for our shuttle knight in shining armor, I will admit I was pretty beat down. Cody went well out of his way to not only hook us up with beta but to also work it so we could have a roof over our heads in Phoenix, not to mention pick us up for the aforementioned shuttle ride. Without a doubt we owed him another day of paddling and Cody’s favorite run in the area was still going to be in for the next day. How this was even possible in Arizona I don’t know. Usually things run for a day and drop out while you’re spending an unexpected night under the stars… at least in my experience.

Looking back up from the hike into the creek, at this point I was definitely bleeding from between my eyes much to the enjoyment of my AZ compatriots: Photo ES

So anyway, somebody had to step up, as paddling partners in the Phoenix area are extremely limited and having some solid out of towners to paddle with was definitely part of the reason for Cody’s immense hospitality. While we were shivering in the dark after our Agua Fria run there was quite a bit of moaning about sore muscles and a general lack of motivation for doing another run. Myself included.

Warm up drop. The creek was basically smooth pink granite bedrock gorges interspersed with clean boulder gardens or manky rock piles of shit, the goods were GOOD though: photo ES

We had made this remarkable drive to catch the nearly impossible to catch flood waters of Arizona and we weren’t going to paddle our third day? THIRD DAY! WTF! How weak are we? Yes, we were slightly out of shape. Yes, two of us are over thirty. Yes, there was definitely a feeling of already having “gotten it done,” but seriously, another classic run was going to be in and it was our duty to paddle it with Mr. Arizona himself, the hucker huge.

Ryan killing it on really nice double: photo CodyHoward

Cody from above on the same double: photo ES

At least that’s how I tried to explain it to the team as we continued to do the hokey pokey trying to keep warm at the Agua Fria take-out. Nobody was biting. By the time Cody saved our asses from freezing off, both Randy and Austin had emphatically stated that they were not paddling the Sycamore Creek and I had nearly convinced myself of the same.

Cody coming in hot and trying to put on the brakes in a tricky slide: photo ES

And riding the same tricky slide out backwards: photo Ryan

When I hopped in with Cody to run the shuttle, literally the first words out of his mouth were “Sycamore is still in!” There was this sickening stoke to his tone that immediately perked me up. I dove right in with, “I’m in!”

Randy gave me a quizzical look and shook his head, which had me searching my gut for what I had just committed myself to.  I gave him my best “c’mon” look, but to no avail. He shook his head again, “I’m out.”

Bottom drop of another sick double drop: photo ES

Sweet lizard on one of my non-mandatory portages, in fact there were no mandatory portages on this run: photo ES

And that’s how we separate the boys from the men folks. I almost had Austin convinced that this was true on the way back to Phoenix and he was claiming that he was a maybe, but I could tell there was little chance of him joining us. I woke up early the next morning, took a thirty minute steaming hot shower and took a look at the flows. Definitely in. Time to buck up son. Everything felt pretty good, but I knew I wasn’t quite 100% and it ended up showing in my paddling.

Top section of the final gorge - Davey Jones Locker, sweet name for some serious and comitting whitewater: photo ES

Bottom drop of Davey Jones Locker: photo ES

Same: photo ES

It was a sick run. I don’t regret going for it one bit even though Cody managed to cajole one of his local bros into tagging along as well. I could have avoided a serious beat down… but I would’ve missed paddling through a rarely run, saguaro filled classic. That’s right, I swam, after getting a little to aggressive with the boat scouting. And then I walked a few I normally wouldn’t have, but that’s the point. I was tired but I didn’t have sand in my you know where like the Wyoming contingent and I still got it done. The lesson here is that it’s always worth it to go paddling. Even if it turns into a photo shoot with Cody.

Cody paddling past my window of over aggressive boat scouting: photo ES

Cody nailing the top boof with the hole that got me in the foreground: photo ES

Cody scraping through where I had to exit my small watercraft, it's so much easier after you've scouted, scouting's for pussies: photo ES

Thanks to Hucking Huge for all of the beta, the shuttle and the digs. Cheers to a brilliant winter of paddling in AZ!

Exit to Davey Jones Locker and the end of a beautiful run: photo ES



  1. Nice pics guys, cool post. Looks like great fun on this river.


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