Rafting the Grand Canyon, Private River Permit Part 16

Fourteenth river day continued, and layover day camped at Fern Glen Camp 4/08/2019 – 4/09/2019

Once we made it back to the boats after about a 7-mile round trip hike with little rest from last night we were starting to feel exhausted. Once we reached our proposed campsite, we found it full. Some frustrations within the group were starting to rise from a simmer a boil. Ben started to put up camp in the other groups site while I searched downstream for a suitable spot, others just enjoyed themselves throwing Frisbee. Ben had to be exhausted; he was rowing every day and had just spent the night with Ryan chasing down our rouge raft. The rest of the rafts had a least two captains. After some discussion and talking to the other groups that occupied the three campsites in the area, I wanted to risk it and push about 2 miles downstream to Fern Glen Camp. The risk being that if that site was occupied, we had no choice but to stay there. The next campsite was 3 miles from Fern Glen and we were running out of daylight, energy, and patience. Arriving at Fern Glen we were beyond excited to see that it was vacant. I decided to have a group holiday in honor of Ben and Ryan for chasing the lost raft and everyone was exhausted from the previous two days events especially the aforementioned. We took an unscheduled layover day for this holiday which was much needed! I felt like I was walking a tight rope with the itinerary we had, which was packed really tight with amazing things to see and a group that was starting to get really tried. As someone who constantly strives to have choices in everything, I wanted to have a buffer day in case any unforeseen circumstances happened again. The buffer day ultimately being a choice to not have to sprint at the end or stop at a really cool place etc. I think having the ability to make choices as constraint free as possible is one of the most important things in life.

Some would argue the only choices you don’t have are the choice of birth and death. Everything in between is an infinite number of choices. One could argue that the amount of choices you have come from knowledge, power, and wealth. I would argue that most people have fewer choices in life than others due to restrictions whether actual or perceived. Death is also a choice some of the time. Choices may lead to death or prolong life. Each choice either constricts or expands the choices available at each turn. Impediments such as socioeconomic status are major constraints for people stripping them of choices. For example, a homeless person still has a “choice” of sleeping in the gutter or a shelter but is this honestly a choice? The less you build your ability to make choices the more constraints you generate or perceive for yourself, thus pigeonholing you until you have very limited choices.

Overall, I guess I believe in Destiny not Fate, with your ability to have/make choices being a very strong driver although there are some constants that could make people feel like Fate is in control (such as the homeless example above). I would like to believe that choices could overcome these constraints but as a privileged* person I cannot relate to all the possible obstructions and know for sure *(white, male, grew up in a middle-class family).

I had the trip planed with the choice that if we were running out of time, we could choose to float through the night and still make it to the takeout on time. I really wanted to keep that extra day in pocket so we wouldn’t be forced to do the night float. I was probably going to have to cut the schedule back dramatically and have some big river mile days, but for now everyone probably needed the layover, I know I did.

We set up the shade tarp for the first time shortly after arriving at the camp. The setting up of the tarp, corresponded with the windiest day we had. Eric was flying his kite when the wind really picked up. Multiple people trying to reel it in and keep their hats at the same time made for a slightly comical show until the chairs, clothing, tarp and, well, most everything else went flying away including the kite! The kite was caught before it made its permanent escape, along with all of our stuff I believe. Once stuff was secured, I walked through the driving wind being pelted by sand until I reached the relative cover of Fern Glen Canyon. I hiked into the canyon until the wind subsided and everything became still except for the sound of dripping water. After locating the source, a pool behind a boulder that had rolled down into the narrow canyon chocking it off from the chaos, I stopped listening to water, relaxing and enjoying the calm from all storms happening around me. After some time, I walked back to the tumult of the sandstorm, the group, and my tent.

Later that night, kicked out of my tent (this is a story for another time), I was sandblasted by driving wind, and the next morning my hair was lighter from sand. I found sand in sleeping bag, shoes, it was everywhere, even in my life proof case. The wind had forced itself into the case while it was charging. This night was the opposite of the brief calm experienced in the Fern Glen Canyon. However, I wasn’t the only one kicked out of a tent. Luckly, I had not found a scorpion under my sleeping gear.

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