Today was our last full day on the river - certainly bittersweet. I love the pace here, the rhythm dictated by the light and the water level rather than by work. But my body is ready to get back to more shade and less hot, dry wind. The river is much warmer now than when we began - its temperature rises 1°F every 20 miles, so today's water was around 58°F, rather than the 48° of Day 1. I'd been doing fine with the water the whole trip - sitting at the front of the raft, no rain gear, getting wet, shivering for a minute and then drying off and warming up. But it finally got to me. I was a little chilly, wearing a wet long-sleeved cotton shirt to keep the sun off, and I was worn out, so I got cold and cranky. Happily, people took care of me - got me situated in a warmer, drier place on the raft, so the day was not lost.
We didn't go on any hikes today, because we had to cover a lot of ground. Our only stop was at Pumpkin Spring, named for the bright orange arsenic and selenium deposits. It was right at the river's edge, and the river was wide and safe enough that we could climb up onto some high rocks and jump off into the river. It's pretty crazy to be shivering when the air temperature is 115°F, but Scott and I both were. It stayed hot for a long time once we got to camp. We sat with our feet in the water and wore wet clothing to try to stay cool.
We had a very good dinner of rib eye steaks, and then sat around together for closing remarks - good-byes, thank-yous, promises to exchange e-mail addresses and photos. All week our guides have been telling us what a great group we are, and we've been telling them what great guides they are, but it was nice to do it one last time, altogether, under a starry sky.
When we had said what we wanted to say, we went scorpion hunting. Ani had a black light along, so about seven of us followed her back along a path, peering under bushes and behind rocks. And we found some! They really do glow in the dark! Bright neon yellow. We even found one hunting - we watched it sting an insect with its tail, grab it in its left claw and eat it. It's a scary insect but beauiful, and amazing to watch. Very graceful.
The moon was late to rise, so I feel asleep under a black sky full of stars. The constellation Scorpio was hanging right over the canyon wall.