Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 6: South by South-East

I was still tired by my "reserve adventure", but it is hard to get enough sleep at these latitudes in the summer. The sky maintains some vestige of light long after the sun goes down, and then brightens again a short time later. While this light may force me awake, I am usually quite comfortable in bed until forced out by the needs of the toilet. The first of these is quite simple, and can be done nearly anywhere, even over the side of the canoe. The second may be a bit more mysterious to those who have never needed to practice it.

While I'm sure our roaming ancestors did not too much trouble about how they did this, in modern times there are certain guidelines to follow when making deposits in the wild. First, it is considered best to bury them in politeness to your successors, who do not want to smell or step in your stuff. Burial also improves the rate at which they degrade into dirt, which is especially important near heavily used sites. Authorities vary on the size of hole for this purpose. One book suggests a six-inch cube, which seems overly large to me, and certainly not always possible given the soil one sometimes has to work with. On the other extreme, I read a touring cyclist who claims he digs a "cat-hole" with the toe of his shoe, which makes me think he must go very frequently to use such small holes.

From the fact that I have not encountered another soul on the river since leaving Calgary's halo, I assume my campsites are very rarely used, but still try to bury them appropriately. Lacking a shovel, I dig my holes with my axe. I don't seem to need any greater width than the length of the axe-head, about three inches. I then do make the holes about six inches long, which is certainly necessary if I've had a lot of starch recently.

It is then essential to pack out the toilet paper, which apparently does not degrade rapidly enough. This is just one of many reasons I'm happy whenever I find some place I can dump my garbage.

After taking care of business, I begin to pick up my tent, starting with the sleeping bag and pad, and then taking down the tent. Since I've seen little rain, I usually prefer to do this before eating breakfast, since this keeps the camp neater. Less stuff out makes it less likely I will forget anything or, I suppose, draw attention. Then I put everything in the canoe, push off, and set out.

On this morning, however, I was interrupted while going about my morning routine by a small plane, perhaps a crop duster. It came in fast and low, buzzing my tent, and I was terrified as I saw it flopping around on the wind, heading toward the bluff ahead where the river turned right. I'm not sure how he did it, but he managed to pull out just in time, and continued down the river.

A strange thing, I thought, to tour a river in a plane, but I suppose he was having a gand, terrifying adventure as well as I was.I go down the river, apparently dosing off for short periods. There are no rapids, no debris, and generally no dangers whatsoever to be found on the lower Bow, but I was a couple times jerked awake at the sound of water rushing over a larger rock, or around a branch. With the current generally being so slow, and the water so smooth, a boat is unlikely to capsize unless intentionally. More disturbing to me were the waking dreams I had, including at least one brief conversation with my boat-mate, Jack. There was another in which I was discussing some film I was going to make with a friend, but one of my suggestions was rejected as being too "carile" (pronounced "care-isle") which is apparently the proper adjective to describe a monster in a horror film being less effective due to having eyes which are too cute. I was unaware of this word and the need for it, and suppose that now I have it, should this need ever arise.

If these kinds of dreams had continued the next day or been of increased intensity, I suppose I would have needed to call the whole thing off. But that night I was finally able to get enough sleep to fully recover from my night out on the water.

Day 6 ended: 50*25.630N, 112*15.348W

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