Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Camp Life–Tents and Gear, Food (and more Food), and Fun

Aug 17 – 22nd – We very quickly settled into a routine at camp that did not vary much day to day. We would arrive at our new campsite about 4 pm to find that the guide with the gear boat had arrived earlier and had set up camp and put out our tents.
We would choose a tent and carry our larger dry bags (the big yellow bags) and our smaller day bags up to our tent. We would also carry up a large red sleeping pad which we would lay out in our tent. Then, Fred and I would usually unpack our large bags which held our sleeping bag and pillow as well as our little duffel bag with our clothes and personal gear.
After we had set up our new ‘home’, we might then hop back in the river for a bit of a swim. The water was cool, but not too cold, and felt refreshing with the daytime temps in the mid 90’s. With regular swims, the lack of a shower was not an issue.
I also might add here that the sometimes very inconvenient idea that it is better for the environment if everyone pees in the river (it gets diluted quickly) could be satisfied with a quick swim. The only other thing that I can say about this aspect of toileting, is that it works better if you leave your shyness at home.
And, while we are on the subject of toileting, I might as well add that we had a porta-potty (the groover) set up at the edge of the camp with a small privacy tent around it for more ‘solid’ business’ which was then closed up and hauled down the river with any other waste. There was also a small bucket in the little tent for those with shy bladders, or those not wishing to get wet in the river. You did, however have to empty the bucket in the river after use. Also, the groover was usually only set up at the night campsite, so toileting during the day had to be taken care of on/in the river. This may all be more information than anyone really wants to know, but these were the issues which were on everyone’s minds as we set up camp that first night.
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While we were setting up our personal gear and/or swimming, the guides were busy in the kitchen. We had 6 guides (I will introduce everyone in the next blog) and they divided up 3 & 3, taking  turns with the meals or taking care of the guests, 
We would spend our free time at camp visiting with each other, standing about or gathered around the tables….
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Or trying to hide in whatever little bit of shade that could be found. Cold drinks, juice or beer were available, and snacks were put out about 5:30 pm.
Our group had a number of young people who tended to group together, often playing card games.
Others might read a book, or just sit and watch the fun….
Or join in a game of horseshoes…..
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Or cheer on the contestants in a game of ammo can tug of war. Our guide Jonathon has a distinct advantage with his size.
One day at our lunch break, the guides introduced ‘paddleboat slip and slide’, made more challenging as the people holding the raft lifted UP  and launched the slider as he/she was going into the water!
About 7- 7:30 pm we would have dinner. I can’t believe that I did not take any pictures of the food……But, the food was always good and plentiful, Salmon one night, lasagna another, pork roast and beef tenderloin, Moroccan chicken and couscous, always accompanied by fresh vegetables and a yummy dessert cooked in the Dutch oven. We did not go hungry!
As the light began to fade, people would start brushing their teeth and getting ready for bed (at least the older people would). By dark, which was about 9:30, we would be tucked into our tents.
I just had to marvel at the amazing setting for our camps…….
Whether camped on grass or sand…..the river and the canyon made a glorious backdrop.
We often slept with our tent door tied open. It allowed the breeze to blow through and cool things off. It really was delightful to go to sleep looking up at the stars.
Except that first night out on the river…….As we were sitting around after dinner, the sky darkened and we heard thunder in the distance. We all rushed to put the rain fly on our tents. Just in time for a downpour! It was over as quickly as it had blown up……
Leaving behind a beautiful sunset. That was the only rain that we had on the whole 6 day trip.

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