April 14, 2014

Rafting the Grand Canyon: Side Effects

The permit was for 25 days on the Colorado River (or as everyone in boating says, 'the Grand). Our group of sixteen put in at Lee's Ferry and took out at Pearce Ferry, with a few free days for hiking. Today, that seems like an impossibly long time to do anything. When was the last time you went truant for over three weeks? Camped out? Went without a shower?

Turns out, I was prepared for a lot of suffering that I didn't experience. I swam in the river instead of showering (does extra cold mean extra clean?) and consumed a gallon of hand sanitizer for good measure. At home I hike, camp, and do the dishes by hand, so not all was novelty. Except for one thing. We were fully disconnected from the outside world.

No emails, no phone calls, no status updates. I hadn't realized how much of my life had been recalibrated to serve technology. I am not here to tell you how bad that is. But I am here to tell you what happens on the rebound. On the river, you tell time by shadows slipping down steep canyon walls, feel the company of constellations and listen to bat serenades. Under these circumstances, normal shifts. Your hands wither and crack from so much sand and water, and no amount of lotion will save them. But you also become willing to forgo a few comforts (or habits as they might be) to live a little bit untethered. Eventually, even cold water feels good.

1 comment:

Dom Boyd said...

That sounds like so much fun. Did you have a good time? I have been wanting to raft in the Grand Canyon for years. It's definitely on my bucket list. I will go this summer and let you know how it goes. I am not excited to bathe in cold water, but I am ready for a break from technology. http://www.twriver.com