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  • Writer's pictureHeather Tanguay

July 19 (3) Willow Beach - Swimming

BACKTRACKS: During my first week on the road, I had trouble connecting to strong enough WiFi to compose and post my daily notes. For the next few days, I will finish these posts and put them out for you. Please accept my apologies that they are out of order of the trip.)


Photos: Willow Beach marina, looking south/down river - Willow Beach swimming area and fish hatchery (flat dock mid-image), looking upriver north toward Hoover Dam - Black Canyon, looking upriver from a higher vantage point, taken by my friend Sheila Holdren.


Willow Beach is 23 miles from Boulder City. It is an RV campground. I am going to try to use the RV 50 am hook-up I bought on line and had sent to Sarah's in LA.

Willow Beach is also a marina at the end of Black Canyon, part of the Lake Mead National Recreation area which was created when Hoover Dam was built. (It's the same as a national park - you need a national park pass to get in. If you come in a car with other people. one person needs a pass. So essentially, the car needs a national park pass. Luckily, I have a pass from another hike earlier this year.)

The marina has slips for motor boats. People can canoe or kayak from Willow Beach to Hoover Dam, look at the dam from the bottom, and marvel at how tall it is. People I met at Willow Beach said that in the afternoon, winds blow up the canyon and you always have to paddle as hard going back to Willow Beach as you did to get to Hoover Dam because the winds up are stronger than the current down. A perfect workout for athletic overachievers.

Hot as Blazes

By the time the Blue Frog and I hop from Boulder City, the temperature is 114. The water I have in the car is hot enough to make tea (not much of an exaggeration.) Drinking it is not cooling. Sweating into such heat is not cooling either. I am beginning to feel the edge of heat exhaustion. I ask the woman at the marina entrance if swimming is allowed and she says, yes but the water was only 53 degrees, so they do not advise it. I am glad she says yes because I am pretty sure I was going to "fall" in anyway.

I put on my wet suit jacket before I wade into the Colorado. It proves unexpectedly necessary, not while I am swimming. When the outside air is 114 degrees, 53 degree water is a lovely temperature. I take off the jacket as I swim because I do not need it. However, when I get out, I put it back on. The cold water absorbed by the jacket keeps me cool for the next hour until it evaporates completely.

Later I walk back down to the marina from the campground, dunk the jacket back in the water, and put it back on. I do this several times during the evening. Even long after dark, the temperature remains above 100 degrees.

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