By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 1/20/2020
Occurred: 9/24/2013
Topics/Keywords: #SaltRiver #Arizona #WildHorses Page Views: 3303
A couple of friends and I float right among the wild horses on a lower Salt River float.

My previous lower Salt River float produced no pictures of the wild horses that live along the river. That was okay, they are wild and can't be counted upon to show themselves. But, because of that, I didn't have much hope for today's trip. Was I to be surprised!

My friends, David and Peter, had asked to be taken on a river float. I was a bit concerned because it was so late in the season; I was afraid the air might be too cold. But we planned for Tuesday, today, and even though it was quite cool last night, the sun warmed things up quickly so that it was about 90 by the time we set out.

As you can see from the above photo, the water was very low. That's normal for this time of year; the Salt gets its water from Superstition Mountains snowmelt, and of course most of that is gone by now. (When spring rolls around, watch out!)

We used three floats, fastened at the feet as I've done the last few trips. That creates a nice conversational grouping so we can chat with each other while enjoying the scenery.

We put in at Goldfield, where the commercial tubers take out. But there were none! We had the river to ourselves…as far as humans go…but shortly after starting out, we began to encounter the famed wild horses of the Salt River Recreation Area.

I've seen that horse couple before; they usually hang out by themselves. We floated past them, thinking the excitement had passed, and prepared to enjoy ourselves in a relaxing manner.

But then we came upon the rest of the herd!

What were they doing in the middle of the river? They don't have to go that far to drink. But there's lots of river kelp and the horses seem to be eating it.

The herd was scattered across the river; there was no place we could paddle to get out of their way.

But these are intelligent creatures who are very familiar with how their own environment works. They apparently understood the river currents; for the horses downstream of us noted our approach, and the couple who were directly in our path simply took a step or two back so that we wouldn't bump into them.

I loved the way they paid attention to us, in neither a friendly nor a hostile way. They looked at us the way we looked at them: With interest, but at a respectful distance.

And, of course, fortunately, no one feeds these animals so they do not come to us for handouts.

And, thanks to the riparian environment and the river kelp, they are clearly not starving, anyway.

Eventually we got to Phon D. Sutton, our take-out, just in time for sunset.

As I took the guys to their car at our put-in, I had to stop and take this shot of the setting sun setting the cliff walls ablaze.

We went our separate ways, and I decided to go back home by way of Granite Reef Recreation Area, which I'd never seen. It's west, a few miles past Phon D. Sutton.

It was so breathtaking I hung out until that moment before full dusk.

This was definitely the last trip of the year. But I can't wait until spring to go do it again!