Monday, December 9, 2013
Most of the time we were off the river by early afternoon at the latest. Because we were on the extended version of the trip, we weren't in hurry. Also because many of the passengers became so engrossed in the trip and living for the moment, we didn't care if we ever reached the end. Once we pulled our boats in, there was a flurry of activity. All the passengers would pitch in to help unload the baggage rafts and anything needed for the evening that might be stowed in one of the dory boats. Then everyone would grab their personal bags and scramble off into the surrounding sand and rocks to set up a tent and mark their territory. Everyone that is except for myself and the crew. The crew slept on their boats at night and thus didn't need to mark their turf. I chose to sleep outside or under an overhanging rock if opportunity provided itself and never once set my tent up during the trip. I did have to take it down once because another passenger set it up while I was on a hike because he thought it might rain.
After the rest of the passengers went scurrying into the rocks to set up their tents, I often helped the two cook ladies set up the kitchen. Once that was done and the crew were off doing their own things, I would often wander up a nearby canyon or rocky hill to get away from camp and relax. At this particular campsite, I scrambled up to a bench where I found two of the younger crew guys that I got along well with. We sat up there for a couple hours mostly just drinking a few beers and watching the 'ants' scurry about camp this way and that.
Eventually we would hike back down to camp for dinner and then after the rest of the clients retreated to their tents and turf, I would sit by the campfire and chew the fat with the crew who thought much like me on things. As the night wore on, the crew would start to retire to their boats and more often than not, I would become the last person by the fire. I would give the coals a stir, walk down to the beach where my gear still lay, grab my sleeping bag and find some place among the sand, rocks, brush and scorpions to unroll it and fall asleep. (The latter was one of the reasons I left my sleeping bag rolled up until I was ready to crawl into it.)
I think because I wanted to make the most of the trip, I was often up at first light with the two cooks. I would fetch some cooking water for them and stir up the fire and enjoy a hot beverage while watching breakfast cook and the other clients stumble in from their tents. After breakfast there would be another flurry of activity at everyone else scrambled to pack all their gear and haul it back to the boats. Since the only thing I had to pack was my sleeping bag, my stuff had already resumed its place on the beach near the baggage raft long before breakfast. During this time, I would help break down the kitchen for the cooks and then often find a nearby secluded spot to right and watch the river until everyone was ready to go.