3 Weeks on the Colorado River
How do you pack to survive for three weeks of off grid adventure down 280 fluvial miles of the Colorado River? Safety gear? Check. Sleeping bag and pad? Check. Warm layers, sun layers, costumes? Check, check, check. Rookies often ask around to see what others had brought down the canyon before that they would not want to leave behind. The answers varied from copious amounts of lotion to abate the harshness of a sandy desert environment on the skin, multiple pairs of sunglasses, glow in the dark bocce, to a good cotton shirt to spoil yourself with at camp. Now that it’s our time to offer sage wisdom on indispensable items for a Grand Canyon trip, we have a simple answer. The only thing you really need for your trip is a Plover Robe.
The many advantages of the proprietary Plover technology were not immediately apparent. As time went on and we descended into the geologic record, the robe slowly but surely evolved into a fixture of our riparian wardrobe. Early in the trip the robe maintained its traditional uses as a morning layer for sipping coffee, to preserving modesty whilst changing in the middle of camp. However later on downstream they proved to be most effective as the go to warming layers in the evening, to cooling layers in the beating sun when dipped into the mighty Colorado.
When these robes were first brought out the reaction of the group was that they were part of some de facto Fathers Day attire. As we found ourselves wearing these more and more the rest of our platoon consistently asked about the functionality of the robes. What better way to tastefully hang dong than behind the billowing fabric of a Plover?
21 days in the harsh desert environment puts the durability of any clothing to the test. For example when we were not navigating the famous rapids of the grand canyon, protocol is to rinse your drysuit of sand and sediment and store it in a bag so the strength of the UV rays from the sun do not deteriorate the material. My lightweight sun pants started to show signs of fading midway through the trip, our hands and feet were cracking from the sand, sun, and an arid environment that we were toiling in day in and day out.
"The Plovers withstood it all, from 50mph sandstorms to long days under the sun, all whilst protecting us from these elements. On the evening of the 20th day of our journey we had our first sign of precipitation, a steady drizzle. As people began reaching into their dry bags for rain layers, we found ourselves comfy as clams under the hoods of our robes."
On a fateful rapid by the name of Upset, a large wave train leading into an explosive hydraulic that would guarantee to blast the captain and crew of each boat with a deluge of water, we chose to put these Plovers to the test. While some of each crew donned their drysuits and splash gear, we had the experience of knowing how the robe material dries at a remarkable rate. As we navigated the wave train, an aquatic roller coaster of sorts, the technical move that had to be made at the oars was not restricted at all by the robe, due to its flowing nature. Two strokes with the left oar to “tee-up” our 18 foot rubber rafts, then all forward with both oars in hopes that the river would not claim our boats in the hydraulic and doom us to a flip.
Thanks to the confidence granted to us by the robes, Upset rapid granted safe passage along with a proper soaking of the oarsmen. As the robes dried and we floated off into the sunset, it was easy to feel a sense of gratitude for the serene beauty of the canyon and our place within its walls.
Returning to society after three weeks exploring the innards of the Grand Canyon comes with its share of difficulties. The real world has an abrasive reality that shocks the explorer. As we adjusted back to life outside of the river there were small mementos that reminded us of our time on the river. A handful of sand found in a robe pocket, a pair of pineapple sunglasses found in a dry bag. One wash of the robe and it was clean and back to new. Every time we don this garment we find ourselves transported back to the sandy reaches on the bottom of a desert canyon, if only for a moment. You can take the robe out of the canyon but you can’t take the canyon out of the robe.
Stay Robed Dear Friends,
Dan Leaman & Calvin Wight