by Amy Waeschle
Late Summer 2005
It had been a hot, dry, glorious but sweaty six days of climbing. Audra and I, instant friends since the day we met at a Swiss hostel two years prior, needed a bath. It was fall in the desert, that beautiful time when the nights start to cool and the oppressive heat opens up more climbing time. We discussed our plight over a heap of all-you-can eat at the pizza joint in town 30 miles away.
The idea of paying for a shower didn't even come up; we were barely scraping by on leftover pizza, ramen and pancakes blended with anything "interesting." But we stunk. My skin felt sticky, as if I had been dunked in a giant vat of orange soda-pop and then cured in the hot sun. Battling my gummy flesh against the nylon of my sleeping bag each night was torture.
Passing the quiet visitor's center on our way back from our pizza dinner, our ziplocks full of slyly doggie-bagged goods, we saw it. There, on the wall, low, between the two bathroom doors, was a faucet.
In the desert, rogue spigots, hoses and other water sources are usually heavily guarded or at least regulated. Many of them even cost money to use. This faucet was none of the above. The only problem was that it rested partially in view of the main parking lot (empty now) and the road. We decided to take turns. One of us would sentry; the other would, as quickly as possible, strip, bathe, dry and dress.
We returned to the faucet many times during that desert trip, trying to stay quiet while we scrubbed away the sweat and grime in the cold water. We never once got caught. I still worry, though, that they had one of those security cameras hidden somewhere. "Here they are again, Earl," one of the security guards would say to the other one as our fuzzy black-and-white bodies came into view. "It's those crazy naked girls again."