5 Places You Won’t Believe You Find Sand After A River Trip

Jul 9, 2012

5 Places You Won’t Believe You Find Sand After A River Trip

You’re going to take home more than pictures from your wilderness river adventure.

These souvenirs will be tucked into crevices you might have forgotten you had.

We all have these hidey-holes, flaps, cracks and nooks that will remind us, hopefully only as long after as our first shower back in civilization, just how far out in the wilds we traveled, and what good clean fun it was getting a little bit dirty.

You will find sand in:

  1. Your hair. Unless you’re used to a large, granular form of dandruff, this will be noticeable, no doubt. Depending on the thickness, curliness and natural oiliness of your hair, this should come out in exactly 1.5 shampoos. We hear that Vidal Sassoon was working on a special variety of conditioner just for raft guides and their guests, right before his untimely passing. We fear this secret formula may have departed with him.

  2. Your belly button. Like the cotton lint of new T-shirts and your pajamas (yes, we know you wear the ones with the footies), you’ll be mining sand out of here. Yes, we know. This is just weird. Belly buttons are weird. Let’s move on. Slight pause, as the “outies” shout “yes!” in triumph of not having to worry about this.

  3. Your shoes. Lots of folks wear a pair of sneakers on river trips. This is fine, except the perhaps largest deficiency they have compared to a good pair of sandals becomes evident after the trip: They will never stop producing sand. You’ll shake and beat them. You’ll remove the insoles and brush them. You’ll wash them. And they will never stop producing sand, almost like dunking them in the river has turned them into magical, foot-borne sand factories.

  4. Your tooth brush. Maybe this is just me, I don’t know. But, despite a tooth brush case, protected by a toiletry case, wrapped into a towel, inside a dry bag, I have at least one crunchy bicuspid-cleaning moment per river trip and find myself wondering why the CIA doesn’t use sand to infiltrate the headquarters of our enemies around the world.Beach Life

  5. Your ears. Yeah, I know, you’d think you’d feel this. You’d think it’d come out the first time you Q-tipped the heck out of them upon your return. This is a wonder worthy of a Nova episode, really, because incredibly, as much as a week later, you’ll feel a tickle tumbling out of your cochlea, and tilting your head into your cupped hand, there it will be: a silicon dioxide souvenir.

 

I once worked at a Japanese restaurant — don’t ask why; it was before I discovered whitewater — and I used to be amazed at the places I would find rice had worked its way into. And, I’m not talking about cracks in the soles of my shoes. I’m talking about places, I thought, that had been protected by layers and layers of clothing.

But, no, there it was, hours later, sticky proof of where I’d been and what I’d been doing.

I mention this not as a wacky aside, because I know it’s a little bit gross, but to paint a picture for those high on the hygiene-need scale that, while a little sand in places that never truly touched the beach might be nettlesome, it could be worse. Rafting is way more fun than a bowl of rice in your Fruit of the Looms.

Are you still finding sand in your river gear? Tell us about that trip, and any tips for dealing with such challenges in the comments below.
Reid Williams
Reid has guided whitewater and taught swiftwater rescue in the U.S. and Central America on 13 different rivers, after brief turns as a chemistry teacher and a newspaper journalist. These days, he tries to turn people on to active, outdoor lifestyles as an executive at WELD.