Not to detract from all its awesomeness, but camping in a teeny tiny rig has one glaring downside: a lack of running water. Specifically, a lack of hot running water that comes in the form of a shower.
I did have a solar shower with me, not the excellent shower that Mark from Minnesota donated to me, the one that would heat water to 50 degrees C within a few hours (because I forgot that one at home, despite my many lists) but a far-inferior substitute shower I picked up in Jasper. My first attempt at showering with that thing found me sorely disappointed as I sampled the water that had been sitting in the sun all day and found it to not be quite even lukewarm. Fail.
I did have use of the campground shower in Hidden Valley (propane-heated, great pressure, a loonie per 5 minutes), and in Jasper (one of those fabulous, deluxe showers that make you push a button every twenty seconds to make the warmish water come out), and of Vanessa’s house shower in Taber (which felt supremely luxurious), and of my lovely camp mate Doug’s RV shower, and of the shower in the Brooks rodeo grounds, and the not-quite-hot RV shower at Running Reins (I was too impatient to let the water fully warm up). But between the limitations of camp showers, and not wanting to waste people’s water, by the time I hit Fairmont Hot Springs, I hadn’t had a long, decadent hot hot shower in weeks. And, because I’d stayed there last year and sampled their hot spring fed hot hot showers, I was very much looking forward to my stay there.
And then, of course, I was foiled by their new no-horse-trailers-in-our-campground policy, not to mention my own inability to check a map. No shower for you.
I arrived at Hideaway Horse Camp, just east of Oliver, BC, after eight hours on the road (6 and a bit hours driving time, plus stopping time for gas, coffee, checking the brakes that I noticed no longer seemed to be working as we engaged a 11% downhill grade…). This is the sign I found at my campsite:
After settling up camp, Pai and Spy and I headed out for an hour-ish ride, and came back to find another note inviting me to cheese and crackers and homemade jelly and conversation – absolutely yes!! Anna Maria and I shot the breeze for something like 4 1/2 hours as a thunder storm rolled in, pelted down, and rumbled away.
And I met her fantastic little English Shepherd, Finnegan, who is truly an Old Soul. I offered Anna Marie a trade for The Worst Dog in The World, but she was having none of it.
The next day, Pai and Spy and I hit the trail late morning – sadly, sans Anna Marie, who had other commitments – on a ride I hoped would hit most of the trails on the map. Last time I was at Hideaway, the weather was fairly bleak, and the views I knew were hidden behind the low-lying cloud remained stubbornly out of sight. I’d also gotten a little lost that trip, and so I was determined to pay more attention to the trail markings.
We did pretty well up to intersection 16, after which we somehow lost the plot and ended up on some logging road headed up into the wop-wops. No matter – the views were spectacular:
Despite our little off-piste detour, our ride was exactly as long as I’d planned: six hours. And we saw wild horses (!). Pai paid them far more attention than I would have guessed she would, and seemed quite firmly determined to become a sister-wife. “Come back! Come back!” Seriously. Queen of the World turned into someone who wanted to live in a harem.
So back to wardrobe issues. When we got back, Anna Maria and Larry were on their way out, and my newly-arrived camp mates were nowhere to be seen. I was determined to have that longed-for shower, in Anna Maria’s supremely delightful stone-floored solar shower house. I gathered my things, got undressed, and turned on the water. And waited. And waited. And came late to the obvious realization that the day had not been nearly warm enough to heat the tank.
But I was determined. I wrapped a towel around myself, and scooted back to my campsite to heat water I figured I would use to fill my sub-optimal solar shower bag. After one kettle full and one pot full barely made a dent in the volume of the bag, it became apparent that this was not going to be a speedy endeavour, and so I poured myself a gin and tonic and cooled my jets and set up round two of water. Somewhere in there, the clank of the gate alerted me to the fact that my camp mates were back, and so I hurriedly whipped some clothes on. After three rounds of water-heating and two G&Ts, I was ready to roll. I lugged my bag to the shower house, tied it up, and yay! Except I’d overdone it on the heating, and the water was impossible to stand under. It was just barely tolerable if you crouched on the ground, giving the spray enough distance to cool before it hit your skin. (I’m sure this will become a Thing, something like, Primal Shower Position Number 2, Promoting Inner Thigh Strength). So yeah. Relaxing shower accomplished, I stepped out to discover… the towel I’d wrapped around myself was still back at my campsite.
I peered around the shower house to find that my camp mates were just mounting up for an evening ride. Excellent. A minute or two later, with them bobbing out of sight, I was able to streak naked across the lawn to my campsite and grab my towel.
Turns out my camp mates were from my neck of the woods, just up the road in Coombs on Vancouver Island. It’s a small world.
Coming back to Hideaway was like yet another homecoming on this trip of homecomings. It is a place to come back to, and come back to. Maybe with better wardrobe co-ordination.
Camp and Trail Notes for Horsey Folk:
I have trail and camp notes on Hideaway on a post from 2015 , in which I mentioned the incredibly uptown outhouse: