[The Listserve] The Colorado River ate my homework

Caroline
03/04/2018
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On February 1 2018, I drove from Los Angeles to Flagstaff to meet 11 strangers with whom I would be rafting 226 miles of the Colorado River. Our trip ended yesterday. After hiking the Hayduke Trail along the Colorado River deep in the Grand Canyon in 2016 and 2017, this was another opportunity I could not pass up. I'd get to be on the River. Going with strangers could be weird, but at least I'd have the River for company, too. Anyone who has been down there can attest to what a powerful draw the Grand Canyon and the River have. Even despite suffering a Bark Scorpion bite while hiking alone down there in 2016, and the fear and the pain, I still wanted to go back, and risk being stung again.

On February 3 we launched and after several hours of floating against a calm breeze along that beautiful green River, we pulled in at Lower Jackass to camp. I jumped off the boat into waist deep quicksand, and ended up crawling to shore. They all laughed, thinking I was pretending to be a dog. I hate quicksand. We were getting to know one another. Later that night while pitching my tent, I said to the geology professor, "it's a good idea to stake your tent well, it's going to be windy tonight." He looked at me like I was mad. Getting to know one another. A couple hours later my tent and everything in it (iPhone, wallet with ID, cards, and some cash, most my clothing, my handmade down sleeping bag and expensive pad, and many other valuables, flew into the river in a huge gust of well-aimed wind. I watched my tent float away, pitched perfectly on the water in the middle of the river. Day 1 of a 20-day float.

Day 2 my loaner sleeping pad popped and it became a cold night. Day 3 rashes started on my face, neck, and my hands swelled so much they started to crack open. And so on. Day 19 my camp chair broke into five pieces when the cicerone rudely farted on me. Day 20 I got internet access and discovered my work life is a bit of a shambles, and people depending on me are frustrated in my absence. I'm stranded in Flagstaff in a blizzard (so much snow!) without ID or a phone, and I'm still wearing the same clothes, leaving sand behind wherever I sit.

But I'm happy. Happy. And despite wearing these same clothes for three weeks, suffering agonizing pains in my hands every time I rigged a raft or unloaded gear, or cooked dinner, or washed my hands in bleach water, I was happy.

Persistence, education, a good sense of humor, friends I look up to, and most recently, Vipassana meditation, have helped me have a wonderful life and great fun despite ridiculous challenges such as these. Life has never been easy, and it won't necessarily ever be. I choose to be happy. I also chose to exit the rat race 5 years ago. I used to be a registered nurse, but now I consult in Wordpress and PHP/SQL development. I live out of my old Westfalia, spending most the year in the wilderness and visiting with friends all over the West Coast. Life gets weird, but it never sucks. As I said after surviving our trip down the River, at least I didn't die. I'm now even more in awe of the River, it's like life itself.

If you're ever in Marble Canyon or Grand Canyon and find a blue Sierra Designs tent, a yellow NeoAir Thermarest, an iPhone 6 plus, a black Lodis wallet, a PSL, a Bose speaker, a bunch of lady's clothes including a brand new bunny suit, and maybe a black down quilt, get in touch! I'm "Little Package Cycling Caps" on the internet, @littlepackage on IG

xoxox Caroline

Caroline
West Coast USA

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