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I hope I don’t jinx the weather gods by making the below proclamation too early, but as I sit at home watching snowflakes fall on the first day of a forecasted 5 day storm, my confidence is soaring. So here goes: 2017 will be remembered as a good paddling year in Arizona.
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The active weather pattern that is serving up deluges and dumps across most of the West has not shunned us here in the south. Our winter water year started when several inches of snow fell during Thanksgiving week. That snow was mostly gone two weeks later, but the Mogollon Rim was soggy with the melt, so when an inch of rain arrived on December 16th, Arizona rivers came to life.
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The following four weeks brought a series of drenching rains, with snow levels often hovering near 9,000 feet. Mild, rainy weather, regular paddling forays; are we in West Virginia or Arizona?
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There have been numerous opportunities to paddle Oak Creek near Sedona. Below, Flagstaff paddler Nick Smotek runs a flood channel during high water.
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On New Years Day, my wife Lisa Gelczis and I found ourselves on a flooded tributary of the East Verde River with friends Billie Prosser and Curtis Newell. Massive cypress trees along the banks led us to coin the stream “Big Cypress Creek.” Upon further investigation, we found the official title listed as Sycamore Creek. There are way too many “Sycamore Creeks” already. We’re sticking with Big Cypress. And this year, we’re sticking around Arizona.

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