The following story is an anecdote from my First-Year Trip in 2015 (gee, that sounds like a long time ago). It taught me the importance of packing a Nalgene bottle in my camping gear.
It feels good to be in dry clothes, I thought to myself. After a long day of getting soaked from whitewater kayaking, it was nice to finally rest and wear warm gear. Our trip had setup camp near the river and we were finishing up dinner. My trippees and I were very grateful for the respite.
As I sat contentedly munching on a piece of Cabot cheese, I reached for my water bottle. The Cabot cheese was pretty salty, and I was thirsty. Raising the water bottle to my face, I tried to hold back my disappointment.
Empty … again? I thought to myself.
“I've got to go fill up my water bottle.” I announced.
“Really Jon? But you just collected water an hour ago.” Asked my fellow trippee. She was holding an orange Nalgene bottle with a 1000ml holding capacity. She only needed to fill up twice a day.
I looked at my wimpy plastic water bottle that I had bought from the airport duty free store. I started to regret not buying a larger canteen. Shrugging my shoulders, I replied:
“I can’t help it, this bottle barely holds any water in it.” With that, I rose from my seat, and set out for the river.
As I walked along the trail to the river, I had some trouble navigating the path. With the sun setting, it was hard to see where I was going. Despite the lack of natural light, I made it to the river. I could hear the rush of the flowing stream.
Gee, I sure do hope I don’t trip and fall into this water, I thought to myself. You see, the thing about collecting water is that you have to collect it where the water is flowing the fastest. That way, you can ensure that the water is fresh. The only downside is that you have to traverse on top of wet rocks in order to reach the flowing water. It’s hard enough to not trip on the rocks when it’s broad daylight. But when it’s already dark, that’s a real challenge.
“Well, here goes nothing,” I mumbled as I precariously traversed on top of the stones. With some close calls, I had made it to the middle of the river. Balancing on a wet rock, I filled my bottle with fresh water.
“Hey, this wasn’t so bad. I’ve filled my bottle without falling.” I spoke too soon. As I rose from my position to walk back to camp, my foot slipped on a wet rock. I ended up falling hard on my rear into the cold water. Although the water was shallow, I was completely drenched.
On the bright side, at least I still have my water bottle, I thought to myself. I still managed to keep hold of my bottle.
Wet, cold, and shivering, I walked back to camp. After reaching our campsite, I searched my duffel bag for a dry set of clothes. As luck would have it, there weren’t any. I had drenched my last set of warm clothes by filling up my water bottle! To say the least, I didn’t sleep very well that night.
Looking back on this experience, I laugh at myself for not buying a large canteen. Had I done so, maybe I wouldn’t have needed to collect water at night and fall into the river. Moral of the story: If you don’t like to sleep in wet clothes, buy a large canteen before you go on your DOC First-Year Trip. It will be one of the best decisions you ever made!
Hope you're enjoying your summer and best wishes!
Jonathan A. Lu '19