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Bouncing down Oak Creek at 210 cfs, it was clear that the season on our local gem was winding down. Okay not just winding down, over. So how do we eke out another day of creek boating in this land of spectacular landscapes but ephemeral water? Pack rafting!
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Josh McNaughton and I set off in red rock splendor, our neat little boats tucked into our packs for a 5-mile hike to the flowing waters of Sycamore Canyon. I’d paddled through this canyon once before, during times of more liquid abundance (Check the info on that in the soon to be released Paddling AZ – new edition.), but this would be the first pack raft attempt, traveling the lower dozen miles of Sycamore as it runs through the red sandstone of the Schnebly Hill Formation.
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The put-in brought hope, with a nicely channelized rapid. The next mile brought reality, in the form of scratchy cobble bars covered in 80 cfs of dropping water. Pack rafts are the ultimate craft for low water travel, but this was even too low for our small boats. A retreat was hastily executed. We’ll be back, ephemeral Sycamore!

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