Sunday, December 1, 2013

Kayaking: Lake Martinez, AZ

We’ve only paddled our kayaks once since we’ve been in Yuma and decided it was time to get in the water.  

So Friday we went to Lake Martinez.  It's north of the Yuma Proving Ground Fam Camp and was created back in 1935 when the Imperial Dam was built on the Colorado River.  

We put the boats in at the Marine Corps’ Lake Martinez Recreation Facility, a funky, friendly and isolated military campground right on the lake.  I say funky because it’s a little beat-up looking and has no RV sewer hook ups or dump site.  But the people we met, including the Fam Camp manager (who said “don’t worry about it” when we went to pay the day-use fee) were very welcoming.  And it's isolated because it's even further from Yuma than the Yuma Proving Ground where we are staying.

The lake has lots of little inlets which made it a great place to explore.  
This heron and a big white egret  were walking around the dock and seemed very comfortable with people.
The lake had a lot of reeds that were fun to glide through. We talked with a  couple of fellow kayakers while on the water, including a man who was fishing from his boat.  He was camping at the Lake Martinez Military Fam Camp in an Air Stream and said he owned five of them, including one built in 1956 that he was about to remodel.
How "Wilson" got in the upper left branches of this dead tree is a mystery to us.   
 From a distance we thought these American White Pelicans were barrels that had floated out into the lake. They are big boys and girls with black-tipped wings.
Jim watching the pelicans, which are about five feet long, weigh about 16 pounds, and have nine-foot wing spans.
Closer shot of a single pelican.
Not far from the funky Fam Camp were some nice lakeside houses. Also nearby is the beautiful Imperial Wildlife Refuge,which we visited last year.   
The Fam Camp manager told us Lake Martinez's water level was low because of recent rains.  Sounds counter intuitive until you realize that water from the the Colorado River irrigates Yuma-area farms.  And when it rains (like it did two weekends ago) local farmers need less irrigation water, so less water is released from upstream dams into Lake Martinez.  

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