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Scrubbing Up at our Fourpeaks Backcountry Camps.
How do we do it at camp with limited water and no electricty? We have fun with the time-tested oldfashion ways of years ago. Or with our new-fangled (optional) portable shower. That's luxury camping! CLICK & GO! (On this page.) Bathing Years Ago. The Portable Shower Bath The Bucket Bath The Tin Washtub Bath The Saturday Night Bath The Outdoor Shower Bath The Brook Bath About Limited water supply at our Backcountry Camps. Guest Notes: "The tin washtub method (not cowboy bath) was exquisite." "the candlelit bath I took in the Wash House was the most unforgettable bathing experience I've ever had" ". . . ..the cowboy bath-who knew you could have so much fun in 4" of water."
Bathing Years Ago. How did they do it years ago with no power or running water? Hand pumps. Spring or brook water. Collecting water in cisterns (holding tanks). Bathing at home even on main street was pretty much the same as at our Fourpeaks camps today. Only big cities had water systems with remote reservoirs. No water pressure to speak of. No showers at all. The bathing method depended on the season and the setting. Here are a few recipes that have been handed down though the years plus some new twists with modern day camping showers.
The Bucket Bath. A real backcountry experience. For serious winter bathing, a quick freshen up in hot weather, a shampoo or a shave, nothing beats the speed and convenience of a bucket (or as pictured here, a dishpan) bath. Best done by the kitchen sink. Just heat a gallon or so of water, suds it up and scrub. A washcloth or a small towel is all you need. Rinse off with fresh water. Very little water required.
The Tin Washtub Bath. Nice and cozy by the kitchen range or woodstove? Feel like having some bathing fun? Just set a 15 gallon tin washtub on the floor and fill it half full of tempered hot water. Step your feet into the tub, get a rag soapy wet and scrub yourself all over. To rinse off, get the rag soppy wet with water from the tub and drizzle the water over your head and body until rinsed of soap. Take care soaping up and rinsing to let the water run back in the tub, not onto the floor. Kids and some folks can fit right in the tub sitting down. Try it. There's one of these big washtubs at every Fourpeaks camp and this is an efficient method for bathing at camp--less time, less water than a full bathtub. Sunny summertime idea: Fill the tub with water in the morning and set it in the sun. By the end of the day it's just right for a backcountry bath. [CLICK HERE for fullsize image of Mom giving Junior a washtub bath by the kitchen stove, circa 1890.]
The Saturday Night Bath. There's an old-fashion clawed foot bathtub at four Fourpeaks camps (The Cabin, Sugar, New Camp and Ridge). Got lots (and lots) of time and energy to spare? Give it a try. In a big stock pot (there's one at every camp) heat up water hot as you can, on either the kitchen range or woodstove. Pour the hot water into the bathtub. Careful! Don't burn yourself! It'll take a number of trips to get enough for a bath. Temper the water with cold if it's too hot. Get in and scrub up with soap and a rag. Slunker down to rinse off. Time to pump and heat the water? (2-3 hours). Years ago folks only did this once a week. [CLICK HERE for postcard picture of a cowboy Saturday night bath at a Fourpeaks backcountry camp.]
Outdoor Shower--Summer Only. Fill a store-bought plastic shower bag (like "Sunshower") with water and set it on the ground for 4-6 hours in the sun. End of the day hang the bag on a tree and let the water run on you till wet. Soap up good with a rag. Rinse the rag with fresh water and let the water drizzle over you till rinsed. Ask to borrow one of ours if you don't have a shower bag of your own. More fun (if you have someone to help pour) if you use an old fashion tin watering can. We have a supply just for the purpose.
Brook Bath--Summer Only. Bring your 15 gallon tin washtub to the brook and fill it as full of water as you can. Drag it into the sun and let it set there all day. Sometime before dinnertime, set your feet into the tub, get a rag soapy wet and scrub yourself all over. Then either get the rag soppy wet with water from the tub and drizzle the water over your head and body until rinsed of soap--or get your whole self into the brook altogether and rinse off that way. There are good brook spots to do this at Sugar Camp, Gypsy Camp, back of Thoreau House at Brook Trail, and by New Camp and The Cabin.
The Portable Shower Bath. for folks who really appreciate the convenience of bathing in a shower, our portable battery operated and/or pressure tank portable showers are optional equipment at Fourpeaks camps. Ask for one when you get here. Battery operated: Heat 4-plus gallons of warm/hot water (you decide) and pour into a five gallon plastic pail. The battery pack is fitted to the side of the pail. The pump body is at the bottom of the pail. Tap the switch and Voila! A hot (handheld, of course) shower. Pressure tank: Take just 2 gallons of water. Operate pump handle to start and then again as when required for pressure. Careful not to lose gasket (see photo). You may shower standing in the bathtub at camp, in a big tin washtub in front of the fire, or outdoors any place. Enjoy. (CLICK HERE for bigger picture of scenic bathing with portable battery-powered shower, showing details of apparatus.)
Limited water supply at our backcountry camps. There's no city water at Fourpeaks backcountry camps. And no electricity to operate pumps to get water from our wells. Water for washing must be pumped by hand and hauled to where it's to be used just like years ago. In winter, water is especially limited, as pitcher pumps are not operable and stand pumps at the wells may freeze in prolonged cold weather. Living with a limited supply of water is part of the backcountry experience. It's educational and fun to learn how they did it years ago.
NOTE: Camp water is not tested and therefore not potable. Guests at the backcountry camps must supply their own drinking water! Bottled Spring Water available for sale at Camp Barn ($3 per 2-1/2 gallon container.)
[More about limited water supply at Frequently Asked Questions.]
#1095 "The tin washtub method (not cowboy bath) was exquisite.
Thanks you Martin, Irene and George (the charmer) for making our stay here at Gypsy comfortable We had a lovely time getting lost in the woods and trying out the battery shower (cowboy showers are definitely the best way to go!).
We hope to see you again, when we'll have more time to chat and ask questions--
We never get a chance to be alone and really appreciated the privacy.
From: Your Adirondack Guiude
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2003 07:33:31 -0400
Subject: Re: Your Fourpeaks visit 10/10/03 to Gypsy Camp
Thanks for your nice note. I couldn't tell from it if you
used the battery shower or not. Was that your cowboy shower?
Need feedback. Let me know. Thanks. Please visit again.
Best wishes, Martin
Subject: Re: Your Fourpeaks visit 10/10/03 to Gypsy Camp
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2003 11:06:36 -0400
From: "julie c"
To: Your Adirondack Guiude
I had to revisit the website--guess I had some of my terminology mixed up.
To clarify: the tin washtub method (not cowboy bath) was exquisite. We
warmed up some water in the sun, thanks to the great weather, and mixed it
with some water we boiled on the stove. Just sat out in the tub in the sun
and took turns pouring pitchers of water over each other. This was all of a
bath I needed and it was nice and rustic--appropriate to the surroundings.
We used the battery shower to rinse off with. It felt like more of a
novelty; I can't say that it was necessary. It's very simple and fun to use,
however, and I 'm sure there are some guests who would appreciate it.
I'll add some other comments in the guest book, but just wanted to let you
know how much we loved Gypsy. We definitely picked the right place, with the
gypsy trailer adding a certain playful element to the whole experience. We
felt like carnies traveling from fair to fair, and imagined that there was a
big festival taking place in the field around us. Obviously, it was
fantastically inspiring for us to be there.
Thank you, again. Have a wonderful autumn.
#1570 "the candlelit bath I took in the Wash House was the most unforgettable bathing experience I've ever had"
Subject: Re: Your Fourpeaks visit 10/16/01 to New Camp
Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2001
From: "Diana S***t"
Thanks for your email-- and sorry it's taken me so long to respond. First
let me say again what a wonderful time I had at Four Peaks. I keep thinking
about the quiet I experienced there-- internal as well as all around me,
some old peace that settled itself into my body, out of the woods and
mountains. When I was at New Camp I wrote two poems every day and never got
in my car. I'd brought my laptop, but after a day and a half, I couldn't
bear the thought of driving down out of my private world to a power source
to charge it up, so I just sat out on the porch wrapped in blankets and
wrote in my journal instead. And the candlelit bath I took in the Wash
House was without a doubt the most unforgettable bathing experience I've
ever had-- sounds of trickling water from the well below the floor, shadows
on the wooden ceiling, and the awareness that there was no need to rush, I
could stay there for hours filling the tub with more pots of hot water if I
And so I am hoping to come back-- and hoping maybe to stay at Ridge Camp
(with a friend) if it's available. I wonder if I qualify for a returning
guest discount? Is there any chance that Ridge might be open for 3 nights
Nov 29- Dec 2? Let me know what the story is-- and thanks again for all
p.s. I am working on poems from that week (revising). If you like I can
email you some other poems another time.
#0249 ". . . ..the cowboy bath-who knew you could have so much fun in 4" of water."
Subject: Re: Your Fourpeaks visit 07/25/03 to Sugar Camp
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003
From: carla p***
Sorry too, Martin, that we did not catch you before we left...we looked in
all your usual places but to no avail. We enjoyed our backwoods camp
immensely..the cowboy bath-who knew you could have so much fun in 4" of
water..the beautiful vistas...the rolling breezes through the trees...hard
rain on a tin roof. We enjoyed many a fine meal, reading by gas lamps and
even completed a jigzaw puzzle! We took a small hike and stayed on camp
until around 4 o'clock on Sunday. We hoped to go swimming, but with the
rain..we missed the opportunity. All in all, it was totally relaxing and
romantic. You really come to realize how much waste there is in the world and how much fun can be had with so little.
We also discovered what a prolific poet you are-a sensitive man hiding in
that gruffness. I especially enjoyed "Pretty House."
Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing such a wonderful place of
beauty and grace. Hope to do it again. Carla & Jimmy
Are you in this picture? Fourpeaks hosts now welcome paying guests to a 700-acre rest and playground for vacations in the Adirondack Great Camp tradition. Couples appreciate Fourpeaks secluded settings. Outdoor loving families have fun exploring our accessible wilderness. Folks with dogs enjoy the open spaces to run their pets. A private nature rereat. For a vacation away from it all. Are you in this picture? CLICK HERE to find out! [More about this at Frequently Asked Questions.]
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