I’m relieved for the break in regularly scheduled adventure posting to get that beaver nonsense off my chest. Because if you’re going to get to know me, you should really know me.
The good, the bad, and the mortally embarrassing.
But let’s get back to it.
The dirty business of getting out and having yourself and honest-to-goodness adventure.
Don’t let this scare you from strapping on a pair of sneaks, filling up your water bottle, throwing on that sweat stained ballcap you keep finding buried under junk in the garage meant for the dump that your significant other swears they know nothing of how it got there, and heading out for super fun time.
Because as they say, God made dirt, and dirt don’t hurt.
It can be a nuisance, though, especially for those clean-conscious. I am that tribe, friends. I know the anguish of planting a hand on a log while hoisting the body up and over a protrusion only to find said hand covered in sap, and eventually every particle that wafts by.
But you must know: if you’re dirty, you’re doing it right.
You’re getting down and really in it. Literally, in the weeds.
You’re invested and making those damn memories.
Resign yourself at the very beginning to stepping in mud at some point, or scraping a knee, or sweating through your clothes. Tell yourself that this is your day, as Mark tells me every single time we stare down a real monster of a hike or training run. Your day is going to be full of unexpected good, bad and uglies.
This is my own on-going journey since I first wrangled my man and we became adventure buddies. Because of said cleanliness-focus, I am constantly aware of…my state, and so I’m constantly reminding myself that my dirt is like a completion patch so many of us hikers covet. It’s my badge that I earned, and that I wear and share with others.
You smell me coming?
Well yeah I just ran 26.2 miles, what did YOU do today?
Like I said, a journey.
Early on, though, I was not so proud of my badges.
Years ago, while still baby hikers, Mark decided we were ready for back-to-back hikes over one weekend; 13 miles one day and 12 the next.
But, um, what do we do after the first hike? Like, what do we do with all the sweat and sunscreen and bug spray?
Lucky for us, there is a lodge used for campers and hikers; they offer info and pay-by-the-minute showers!
Unlucky for us, the lodge was in the middle of construction on this very weekend and the showers were closed. Not just closed, removed. Forever and EVER.
Sleep dirty? CANNOT do it.
Cannot. Will not.
I can hike for miles and miles, I can run for miles and miles, but at the end of the day there is usually promise of a hot soak and fresh clothes. On this day there was no respite from the stink. I saw my tired self crawling into my sleeping bag and utterly corrupting it. And I broke down.
I cried and yelled.
I yelled and Mark saw my head spin.
I became irrational and tried to ”bathe” in a Stewart’s bathroom; foot in sink, zero shame, zero dignity.
(Out-of-towners picture gas station/convenience store bathroom.)
Needless to say, It did not work. I was not going to effect the kind of clean my standards demanded. Mark was not surprised, he offered another option: beach bathrooms, maybe they have showers?
A completely wide-open-to-anyone-walking-in-to-do-their-business shower.
Inside, I was deliriously happy. Outside, I stripped down and washed my day of fun and adventure and dirt and smells down the drain. Later, in my sleeping bag, I dreamed the dreams of a delicate princess who rests atop the mushroom clouds of Fairyland.
- Bring cleaning implements. NOW, we fill up a pesticide sprayer with water and ”hose down” at the end of a particularly messy day. It works on sandy feet, it works on muddy boots, and it works on sticky peanut butter and jelly hands. It takes up little space and holds plenty of water.
- Sometimes hostels offer up their showers, and just their showers, for a small fee. We found out too late that the hostel across the street from where we ended this fateful hike would have rented us a shower for $5/each.
And that’s all. That’s all I learned.
No self improvement, no growth or realization of my short-comings.
Just how to clean myself when I am dirtiest.
And for that I say, ”you’re welcome.”