Reflections on a Recent Excursion to the North Country  (July 18-20, 2008)   by Royce Davenport

  Dear paddle pals, I had the good fortune this past weekend of joining up with a number of other lucky So. Az. Paddlers for a trip to Blue Ridge Reservoir. This wonderful body of water is found just a short distance north of Strawberry Az. on the Mogollon Rim and is a destination worth your consideration. In short, it's about as close as one could come to a trip to some secluded ribbon of river in upper Wisconsin or Minnesota.

Yes, it's a bit of a drive from our area to the South, but if navigated via the "right roads" a pleasant scenic journey is yours to boot. Up the pass following the Gila River, North out of Winkleman to Globe. Then, along the western shoreline of Roosevelt Lake to the green panoramas that lead you to Payson. As mentioned, a bit of a leap from our sand box but lovely country all the way. Doesnít have to cost all that much either now that weíre all accomplished car-poolers.  Enough about getting there though, lets be there!  Norma tells me that by the time these words are posted there will be photos from the experience, so Iím going to let the accompanying images speak the thousand words. There, I've all ready spared you a certain level of pain. A thing or two I felt worth mention here though are as follows and hopefully worth a little reflection for all of us.  

  Top of the list!  As some of you know this gathering, now on board as a regular summer (July) club activity, is referenced as the "Volker Run". This in honor of a great "River Rat" and exceptional human being who has paddled on. We all gathered on the banks of the Blue and shared our remembrances of our dear Mr. Beer. Though short on bicycles there in the canyon bottom, we honored him in Biathalonic spirit. This done in the form of our chosen mode of travel; kayaks and canoes alike. Further homage was offered by a number of those present, diving in to the slightly chilled waters then swimming to the far shore and back. I'm sure he approved. Some gathered there of course knew him well, others less. All knew of his quality. Though I only knew Volker a short while, I've come away from the experience feeling as follows:

 There are times in all of our lives when we hear stories of some remarkable human being who achieved some lofty goal that almost feels beyond human capability. Yet, through their commitment and inner strength, have as we say "put it over the top". These folks, though an inspiration to us, are as a rule not necessarily a first hand part of our lives. This doesnít lessen our admiration by any means but lessens, to what ever extent, the transfer of the achievement to our personal experience. For myself that situation, that story, some one or two persons removed is no longer. So, I, as well as most all of us, have now had the good fortune of having someone very near to me serve as such an inspiration. Though, as I've mentioned, only got to know the gentleman a little, he offered me a lot. I'd say a boatload of inspiration. Thatís what that man was all about and we all were blessed to what ever degree with his presence in our personal lives. So hats off to you Mr. Beer, hope to meet up again some day far from shore.

(Click on images to enlarge)
Photo contributions by Ron & Norma Miller

Mogollon Rim Country map

Rim view from near Tonto Creek

Pan of entire camp site area (457KB)

Pan of entire camp site area (very large 2MB)

Ron Miller

Blue Ridge Reservoir area map

    Paddling the Blue RR

Looking up river from camp site

  Wade Davenport tows Lilly

  Road to Payson

Arriving at the camp site

Paddlers at end of side canyon

Lilly the surfer

Judy Probst


The Prez on his throne

          Lake front parking

Heading down the South arm, aka Gen. Springs Cyn

Norma Miller & cave reflections

Great blue heron and friends

Casey Stakauskas on his dad's canoe

     Barbara and Dan on South arm

Walking back up old Rock Crossing Trail from the Gen. Springs Cyn. crossing.  Trail can be hiked 1.5 mi. from the South shore of E. Clear Creek (across from our campsite), then up and over the ridge, crossing the pump station, aqueduct and FR 123, then down the ridge to the GSC crossing where this photo was taken near its confluence with Bear Canyon (see map).

Ron Probst

The Prez's grandson - Jacob was
paddler who spent most time on the lake.

   L-R - Ron & Judy P.; Casey; Ron M. & Steve 

    Darrell Bishop catches lunch

 Adult osprey watches over 3 chicks

    Mallard family

Paddling down Bear Canyon at
confluence with Gen. Springs Cyn.

Steve Anderson attempts to sail

Walking East on FR123 toward Pumping Station. Buried aqueduct is parallel to roadway.  The sign is about 50 yards East (beyond) where the Rock Crossing Trail intersects FR123.  Look again for the trail as an old two track heading south toward Gen. Springs Cyn.  Walk the old two track about .25 mi. till it ends at some old fire rings at top of ridge, then follow some old rock lines down the canyon SW toward the water.

Royce Davenport and rider


Dan and Barbara Reese

    Morning mist

Blue Ridge mirror image

Fledgling osprey

Common merganser with ducklings

Prime camp site on South arm

East Clear Creek at west end of Reservoir

Heading out, checking out a cave-camp