I just stepped out of the shower — the outdoor shower — here on Martha’s Vineyard at Tashmoo.
It feels like pure luxury.
Especially compared to where I was washing myself a week ago.
There are very few options to stay clean while rafting down the Grand Canyon.
One is to bathe in the green Colorado River — a very cold, 50-degree dip for those fearless and dirty. Each night I would gingerly step into the water, toe by toe, until deep enough to pretend I washed all the way up to my armpits. Forget scrubbing behind the ears and sudsing your scalp.
My personal theory is that water freezes as soon as it hits my belly button.
As soon as the water line touches just above my bikini bottom it causes me to shoot out of the water and jump in place — as if hopping on one foot would help warm the water.
So, to our surprise, after going a few days without a proper washing, we were delighted to hear about the falls in Stone Creek, where we would pull over for lunch and leisure for the rest of the night. There was a long hike and a short climb up to the adorable little waterfall – named for pioneer river runner Julius Stone.
We weren’t the only ones.
Just as we finished lunch, a large motor boat pulled into shore and began to unload their lunch crew. From our vantage point everyone on board looked, well… you might say… butt naked.
So two sassy girls in our party did what anyone would do — mooned them right back.
We soon found out they were, indeed, bona fide nudists.
And, this was their annual trek down the river.
Our guide went over and talked to their guide and confirmed they were just pulling up for lunch. Campsites can be poached if you are not careful, and, as we learned, it can be more than a river run to see who gets to camp first.
They promised to only stay for lunch and then head on down the river.
One, nice, old, lady, nudist said to our guide, “I hope you will be nice, people make fun of us.”
So we all promised to keep our clothes on and our mouths shut. We even let them go for their own hike up to the Stone Creek waterfall first. We would wait our turn.
Once we saw their people walking back out of the canyon, we packed our gear and headed out for the hike.
Before we found this spectacular shower…
We ran into a skinny, gangly, seventy-year-old man completely nude from his top to his toes. He saw us coming and very slowly started to pull on a pair of shorts.
We smiled politely, said a quick hello, and passed, keeping our eyes on the trail.
We rounded a corner and walked straight into two older women, also nude. One started pulling a shirt on over her sixty-year-old chest and the other just looked at us, and in all her nudity, became very chatty.
Maybe we looked like the talkative type.
Maybe she was just trying to be welcoming and nice.
You know, there are many things I have learned in school. Like how to write a letter and the proper salutation or the appropriate sign off.
There were many lessons learned once I entered the real world and the work of everyday business. Like, how to conduct myself on a conference call, how to shake hands with a firm grip but not too tight, and how to compose an email and communicate in the proper business tone.
I have been taught how to navigate everything from the corporate holiday party (don’t get drunk, but be socially talkative and merry) to how to conduct a press conference.
But, I have never, ever, been taught the proper protocol to converse with a nudist — in the wild.
So we winged it.
I can’t tell you much, other than she had brown hair and brown eyes — and was very nice.
And, really, none of that matters.
After a few days on the river, it was more common to talk about your pee (was it clear and copious?) and your poop (did you use the GROOVER yet?) than it was to discuss the happenings of the world economy, politics or the NBA finals.
None of that frippery matters in the Grand Canyon.
What matters most is pretty, basic stuff:
- Have you pooped yet?
- Did you pee today?
- Is your Nalgene bottle full of water?
- Do you have any sunscreen left?
- And, what’s for dinner?
Because it’s not about being fearless, as much as it really is about survival, on a different plane with a greater potential of error.
We also learned another lesson:
Once you find a waterfall, you frolic.
And, we did!
It was a fresh shower!
Provided by nature!
And, the water was WARM.
Being in the wilderness requires you to be resourceful.
Whether it is finding a way to shampoo your hair, take a bath, or…
Find some shade in the 110 degree Arizona heat:
Most of all, I found, being in the wild pushes you to your natural edge, and sets off your sense of survival. Food. Water. Shelter. Shower.
Even, finding a way to talk sincerely, with an open mind, to a butt naked nudist.
It’s amazing what happens in the canyon.
It’s awe inspiring, it’s wild and if you aren’t already, take it from me…
It will make you fearless.