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Attack of the giant grasshopper


Kris, Andy and I set up our camp fairly close to the kitchen last night. We were in a small alcove with bushes all around us, and so nicely sheltered from any wind gusts that might have blown. Unfortunately, as I quickly realized, we were also sheltered from any cool gentle breezes from the river during the night.

After a few minutes in our alcove, I realize that I wasn't going to be able to go to sleep in the little oven we had set up for ourselves, so I grabbed my sleeping pad and wandered out to where all of the bags were stacked next to the kitchen, on a little mound that was sure to have a slight cool breeze. I pushed a bunch to the side to clear a space for me, put my thermarest down, flopped down on top if it, and started to go to sleep.

Now, the location of the pile of bags is well known. It's also fairly visible in the night light, as it's a wide circle of bumps the size of, oh, me. What I didn't know when I flopped down, however, is that the guides would often find bags and other things in their boats that should be in the pile, and fling them onto the pile later in the evening.

Say, when I was lying near the pile.

So, as I was dozing, I started hearing THUMP! THUMP! as large, bag-sized objects rained down around me. Quickly deciding getting beaned with one of these bags wasn't in my best interest, I stood up, grabbed my thermarest, went back to the alcove, and settled down between Kris and Andy again.

I wasn't five minutes settled, and nowhere close to asleep, when I heard a rustling behind us, in the direction of our heads, somewhere in the bushes. My eyes flew open. My heart started racing. What had I just heard? I wondered. No, no, I thought, I'm fine, I'm between Andy and Kris, so I'm in the safe place. Yet the rustling kept coming closer in these sneaky, bursts of activity.

Thoughts of rats and odd birds and other Canyon wildlife started running through my head, so I rolled over, reached around Kris, grabbed his headlamp and turned it on, shining it in the direction of the rustling sounds.

And saw a HUGE grasshopper start jumping my way. As Andy told me later, "You know, shining the headlamp at it was like sending out a 'come play with me' flare to it." I turned off the headlamp, not really wanting to see the grasshopper any longer, but relieved that the noise was from a bug and not a small animal.

I put Kris' headlamp down, rolled over, and finally relieved, started to doze off, no longer hearing the rustling of the grasshopper.

Of course, not hearing the grasshopper meant that it was getting closer to me. Closer... closer.

Suddenly, the grasshopper landed on me.

I screamed and sat up, flailing all around me. "Get it off of me!" I screamed, "It's on me! Get it off!" pushing the sheet away from me. Kris sat up in alarm, asking "What? What's going on?" Andy sat up in alarm on my other side, and reached out. "What's going on?" he asked insistently enough for me to hear. "It's a 4" grasshopper!" I wailed, "it jumped on me!" finally able to calm down enough to stop flailing.

"A four inch long grass hopper? Uh huh, right," Andy later told me he was thinking, as he calmed me down. "It's gone now. You can go back to sleep," he soothed. So, I did. I lay back down and, heart still thumping, tried to calm myself enough to go to sleep.

Suddenly, Andy sat up, and jerked around. I sat up, as did Kris, as Andy jumped up with his headlamp turned on, pointed at the four inch long grasshopper than had landed on him, after it was done torturing me. Look at that, we all marveled, as Andy went to find his river mug. He caught the grasshopper in it, put the lid on it, and put it on the edge of our campsite. Nervous laughter turned to relief, and the three of us went back to our pads to sleep.

For the third time that evening, I started to doze. Now, when I start to doze, my eyelids relax and they will sometimes part a little bit. Not a lot, just enough to see movement and not much else.

Movement like, say, a bug dive bombing your face. Followed by a canyon bat, which is trying to catch said bug for dinner. When the bug landed on my face, I, once again, screamed, and swatted at it, barely missing the bat who was in close pursuit. And once again, Andy and Kris were sitting up, asking me what was wrong, and once again, I was exclaiming some highly-unlikely scenario that, at this point, they had to believe since I was correct the last time.

And, once again, the two of them calmed me. I mean, what are the chances I'd be dive bombed by a bat twice in one night? Small. Go to bed.

As I was settling for a fourth time that night, Andy rolled over and grabbed his light. "Just to be sure," he said, and shined the light above our heads.

Less than twelve inches from where Andy's head had been was a good sized scorpion.

"Let's go sleep some place else," he suggested.

I immediately jumped up, grabbed my pad, and walked back out to where I had moved the bags. I moved a few more bags over, giving the three of us enough room to sleep, threw my pad down, and flopped down on top of it.

And that's where we finally fell asleep on our last night in the Canyon, having survived the Attack of the Fifty Foot Grasshopper: on the top of a small mound, next to the dry bags, in the cool river breeze, in full view of the Canyon night sky.