Full exposure in the Canyon!
Picture this. We’re in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in four small rafts (with four passengers and a boatperson each) and a honey boat (don’t ask – but if you do, know that the rules for human waste disposal in the Canyon are very simple. Liquid waste goes into the river – hence the ubiquitous directional instruction “Skirts up, pants down!” (stream). But for solid waste, well what you bring in the Canyon you have to take out. Thus the need for a honey boat with a poor forlorn boatman and no passengers).
Four or five days into the trip, we stop at the confluence with the Little Colorado River for lunch. Here we find a long shallow depression filled with liquid mud running down next to the stream. One could sit at the top and slide down just like a water slide. And here comes our head boatman – a young Greek god – and our own lady boatperson – not bad looking herself – sliding down. Completely nude! It seemed to attract a lot of attention from the group. And maybe set the stage for what was to come.
For a few days later, a major problem erupted. Here I must digress for a moment. As you float down the river in your raft, you can’t help but notice that your boatperson’s eyes are forever glued on the river. It’s a comforting feeling knowing that they are reading every little ripple in the water to ensure a safe passage. But eventually you learn that the truth is much different. Actually they are eagerly looking for full cans of beer (full cans float, empty cans sink). And, sad but true, the human artifact that you’re most likely to find in the bottom of the Grand Canyon is a full can of beer, lost by some preceding group. Our boatpersons must have recovered more than a dozen nice cold cans on our trip. And the finder drinks the spoils!
But the point here is that, after many days on the river staring at red and black and green rocks and the feelings of sheer terror while shooting the rapids begin to fade, you begin to focus on what’s really important, namely the ration of beer you’re going to get at the evening campfire. In our case we were issued two cans every evening. Some of us drank both right away; others saved a can for later, burying it in the sand to stay cold. In our group were two men, life-long friends, share and share alike. One of them buried his second can for later. But, when he wasn’t looking, his friend dug it up and buried it in another place. Later in the evening the first guy wanted his beer and became furious when it wasn’t there. Eventually his buddy admitted he had taken it but, when he went to get it, he couldn’t find it. So, for the rest of the evening and on into the night, we were treated to the sight of two grown men, nearly in tears, as they dug up the sand all around the camp in vain, no longer best friends but bitter enemies now.
Fortunately, our trip leader realized that something had to be done, something spectacular, to restore the harmony of the group. So, the next day he announced that the high point (maybe low point?) of the trip was coming, a visit to the infamous mud pots on a side stream. Here I must say that the lady boatman had been working on Lou ever since the Little Colorado. So, when we got there, she abruptly told us that taking a mud bath was necessary to cleanse our souls and that everybody was going to do it – in the nude! And we all did! Well, almost all; one young couple wouldn’t participate in fear that they would be kicked out of their church if it became known. It was a shame; they were both young and good looking compared to some of the rest of us.
Afterward, with our freshly cleaned souls, it was back to the river to clean off, although some of the men stayed covered with mud for the next day or so – to keep the sun off of course. It’s a shame that this all happened before the days of YouTube; it would certainly have gone viral!!
Contributed by: Lou Stanley
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