What was going to be an easy, laid back overnight trip at the river turned in to a night for the record books. We hit the trail Thursday evening with 5 humans and 8 dogs. Little did we know the night would be one obstacle after another!
The trip started out simple enough; with some hiking and a little photo shoot, to capture the use of some our new, amazing gear – provided by Camping With Dogs to help promote their spring giveaway, featuring brands such as: Kelty, Merrell, Kong, Eno Hammocks and so much more.
After taking some photos, we headed down in to the canyon. This is when we spotted Sheriff and Park Ranger vehicles. An officer approached me, informing this area was an official crime scene. This was not just any area – this was the area we had planned to set up camp, the area we frequent with the dogs, because, it is so exclusive. The officer informed us the crime was most likely a suicide. Absolutely horrible, 2 days later and I still can’t find any information on the news or local media channels. It will be difficult to enjoy our special place the same way we did before, the tragedy will always be in the back of our minds.
But, moving on to the more amusing and light-hearted part of the adventure…… We decided to continue hiking another half mile down the river to another access I knew had enough space to pitch our 3 tents. On the way, we got to enjoy the company of the infamous Wild Horses, that we frequently see roaming around the Salt River. We finally reached our new destination, a wash leading to a small beach for the dogs to enjoy the river – while we set up camp. Then we all enjoyed some down time and the stunning, Arizona sunset. The evening included river fun, campfire, laughing and dinner via Jetboil! The sunset was beautiful, everyone was relaxed, happy and full – until Kerri came back yelling, from a pee break, that there was a skunk!! A skunk!! Wandering around our tents. The dogs got leashed and we started heading off in pairs when we had to go pee, for the rest of the evening.
Bedtime! But not really, seeing as how we each were probably lucky to get more than 2 hours of actual sleep. We all decided to sleep without our rain fly’s, since it was warm and zero chance of rain – that was a mistake! My tent had myself, Chipper, Quinci along with our friend Ashley and her dogs Izak and Fiona – all in a 2 person tent! As we were trying to fall asleep, Chipper and Izak were keeping watch for critters at the foot of the tent. That’s when a skunk must have walked by our tent, less that 3ft away. The boys couldn’t resist and busted right through the tent, leaving a giant tear along the entire bottom of the tent wall. We grabbed their collars and yanked them back in before they had the chance to be sprayed! That’s when I made the executive decision to add the rain fly. I also scrounged what little duct tape I had with me, to attempt to close the tear, it was a fail. We spent the entire evening trying to keep wild critters out, while keeping our critters in! Meanwhile – our friend Tami was in another tent with her 3 fluffies. These fluffies felt the need to be the official alarm system for any and all intruders – sounding off, said alarm, every 20 minutes or so! At some point, you just have to laugh it off. Maybe it was the lack of the sleep, or the steady stream of critters we kept hearing (including, but not limited to: skunks, coyotes, wild horses and javelina) – but the whole situation became so funny, couldn’t help but laugh. But, by far, my favorite moment of that long night was when Ashley went out for a potty break, only to come back screaming at me to open the tent because the skunk was right next to her – the sheer terror as she struggled to unzip the tent while I held all 4 dogs form trying to run out!! Makes me giggle, even now, to think about it.
We had never wanted to the sun to rise so much. And when it did, it was magical. To wake up in a such a place of serene beauty, made the entire ordeal worth it. The sun peeking over the cliffs, reflecting off of the water, was perfection. We spent a relaxing morning, reminiscing over the difficult night. The dogs enjoyed some more water time, while the humans packed up camp for the hike out. We left our hidden beach around 9am, to beat that desert heat. Even at that time in the morning, the dogs were searching for shade around every turn. But, lots of water and a positive attitude, make the trek back easy and enjoyable!
It was definitely a night for the record books. It was a great lesson in adaptation and going with flow. An evening in the wild is never boring, and I wouldn’t want it any other way!
Ps: If anyone has a recommendation for a great, lightweight tent – please share!