Have you ever gone camping, set your tent up near a lovely stream, did your camp chores, started your dinner cooking, then headed down to filter water- to find the stream GONE?!? Our first day out into the canyon-like desert gave us a hard lesson: water chore first- all other chores wait. We were truly appalled that our running water disappeared completely- I mean the creek bed turned sandy, dry, and dusty as if the water was never there in the matter of an hour!
But nevertheless, God was looking out for us. Thunderstorms had passed through this way in the last couple days and we at least had the option of drinking out of a lovely puddle filled with clay dirt saturated water. The water was orangey red and so saturated with clay that I stuck my hand in and I could not see it below the surface. Since it was just a puddle, I took off my boots and waded in to the deepest part- my ankles- and tried to fill our bucket with the nasty stuff. It was our first night using our borrowed ceramic gravity filter and it clogged with slimy gooey clay every few minutes. It took us hours to filter enough water for ourselves. It was a far cry from the clear running water we were intending to drink, but at least it was water. My toe nails looked like I had painted them- I didn’t have any clean water to wash my feet off with. It was something we came to get used to in the next couple weeks.
We had ridden down a road called the Burr Trail out into a wild land of red rock, canyons, and rock formations. Our campsite was in an interesting location so we took a half hour to explore. We found a small but really cool slot canyon, a very narrow alley between rock walls formed by rushing torrents of water (when there are flash floods.) We also found real clay- the kind you can mold and make pottery with- on the ground! It was slippery and fun to play with- until I remembered I had no clean water to wash it off my hands with! Oh well- par for the course.
That night, we learned yet another valuable desert lesson. The sand looked very inviting to put our tent on. Comfy, no big rocks or sagebrush bushes, soft- a great sleeping surface. But a gusty wind storm came up during the night and sent wave after wave of fine sand right through our tent screen and sandblasted our face with it all night long. I was sweltering, but ended up keeping my head in my sleeping bag just to try to avoid the painful blasts of sand. Our eyes and teeth were filled with grit in the morning, as were our sleeping bags, clothes, and every other piece of equipment we have. Next time, I’ll sleep on the rocks away from the sand if I have the option!
The crazy thing of it all- the creek was back in the morning! This first campsite was quite a learning experience and totally baffling to us! We did take the time to dump out some of our nasty clay water and fill it with clear water. At least the horses were able to drink decent water that morning too. Little did we know it was to be our last clean water for many days.