Last weekend I floated down the ‘Verde River’ in my inflatable kayak with my good friends Emilio and Julie. The weather was perfect for a “float” down a lazy river, it was in the high 70s and sunny. The Verde River flows for about 160 miles, starting in the northwest corner of Arizona near the Sulivan Lake Dam, heading southeast down to the Salt River just north of Phoenix. It passes through some really beautiful public and private lands, including the Tonto National Forrest. We started our “float” near downtown Camp Verde at the White Bridge river access point and ended at Beasley Flats about 4.5 miles down river. The trip takes about 4 hours if you take your time and stop for a few breaks along the way. The route is extremely popular with kayakers of all skill levels. There are a few outfitters in Camp Verde that will drop you at the start point and then pick you up at Beasley Flats if you are in need of their services. We had two vehicles so we dropped one at the end point and returned to the start point. We paddled past numerous groups enjoying the wonderful weather… swimming, picnicking and tailgating along the river. One group of boys in their teens were doing their best to show-off to passers-by with their acrobatic-feats of greatness, swinging from a rope swing into the river. They looked like they were from central-casting for a remake of the movie “Lean on Me.” Another group of ‘country-folk’, sitting on the tailgates of their pickups, interrupted their swigs of cold beer long enough to cheer us on as we passed. “Way to go… you’re almost there…” I’m not sure where “there” was but I appreciated the words of encouragement nonetheless! One minor ‘incident’ made the paddle very interesting for me. I made the decision to attach my skeg (a fixed blade rudder) to my Innova before we started. Along the route my skeg hit more than a few large submerged rocks. I should have stopped and removed the skeg… but I didn’t and at one particularly hard hit, the skeg bent back far enough to puncture a 1/4 inch hole in the floor of the kayak. Lucky for me, the Kayak has 3 air pockets (the 2 gunnels and the floor). There was enough air in the gunnels to carry me the last mile down river like a wounded duck to Beasley Flats. I had to lay flat in the kayak to distribute my weight which forced me to paddle prone on my back, easy enough except it limited my field of view! I was happy to learn that the Innova can still carry me with 2/3s of its flotation capacity! I spent the next afternoon patching the Innova and with test it this week to see if the patch holds air!