"I won't recognize you the next time I see you."
So said the lady at the privately owned camp store. It is prophesy, but not a supernatural one: she is remarking on the collection of bathing supplies I have brought to the counter.
It has been 24 days on the river; 24 days without a shower; 24 days surrounded by mud and dirt, and nothing cleaner than sand that finds its way under fingernails and into creases of skin I was unaware of.
I first carefully scrape off my vagrant's beard. This process takes awhile because a few hairs overwhelm my razor, and then I must rinse the razor and reapply a spot of shaving cream to get the next few out. When this is done, I have a bald chin and lip, but still a dirty face.
So it is off to the showers. These require you to push a button for each minute of water. I don't know how many times I hit that button, but I do know that I took three consecutive showers. Each time shampooing and rinsing my hair, carefully washing my face, and down through the shoulders, the knees and the toes and everything in between. Places that ordinarily don't require much attention are luxuriously washed and rinsed under the shower, and I hit that button again and again, as I undergo the entire shower ritual three times, until I feel clean. I change into my freshly washed clothes, and I am for two hours a clean man, who does indeed go unrecognized by the camp store lady, the next time I am around.
I proceed to get lost on the hiking trails in a brief sprinkle, and my aura of cleanliness lost a portion of its luster.
But coming back to the campsite that evening, I see that the waves came up during the storm, and carried my boat away from where I had left it -- not too far, fortunately! It was tied up, at least. But the canoe is swamped and everything in it has become drenched. My little boat has had a mudbath while I was out, and there is nothing to do but wash everything out. I am fortunate that nothing was lost or broken. My method of securing my items must be sufficient.
A hard wind comes up to help dry off my articles, and lights splash around in the sky. A girl from a neighboring site warns me there is a tornado watch in effect in our area. This storm is no worse than the others I have weathered so far, so I continue cleaning out my boat while the sky goes crazy.
Day 24 ended: 50*41.278N, 107*55.400W