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Backcountry Cleanliness

Backpacking and camping basics and other general trip planning discussion for the uninitiated. Use this forum to learn where to look for the information you need, and to ask questions, related to the beginner basics of backpacking and camping, including technique and best practices.
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Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:57 pm

I'm pretty close to the no.1 category. For an overnighter about all I do is wash my hands. On extended trips my socks and boot aroma will make me pass out after about 3 days, so I will try to rinse (no soap) my socks and wash my feet in a lake--although weather conditions and mosquitoes may discourage this. I will rotate through two pairs of socks every other day if possible. When I wade in, I do a little dance in the sand to abrade the toe jam out. In case you were wondering, this is not an exotic method of stunning the lunkers and capturing the fish as they float belly up.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html



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Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby paul » Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:27 pm

Put me in there with Oldranger at about 1.5. And add that I generally jump in in my shorts and hiking shirt, so they get a rinse as well - or if I don't jump in due to temps or a too-small water source, I rinse out the shirt at least.
And I always rinse out a pair of socks each day. No soap - I don't carry soap - I use a plastic bag or stuffsack as a portable washing machine. I carry 2 pair of socks and wear one unless the trip is only 2 days. So I always have one clean(ish) dry pair in the pack, one drying on the pack as I walk, and one on my feet.
For snowcamping, all this goes by the board. On nice sunny days, I wash my face and hands with snow (feels great, actually), and will go as far as the pits as well sometimes. And air out clothing if possible. Have even stripped naked and aired out completely on a nice sun-warmed rock at times on ski trips.
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Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby copeg » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:06 am

I probably fall a bit below 3 - more infrequent than every other day depending upon the situation and weather. Typically rinse myself clean away from water sources, and only try to clean up when its easy to warm up (aka when its warm and sunny). No soap, just a good rinsing. For some reason, I've never been attracted to diving into an ice cold lake.
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Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:09 pm

I am a 2.5 - totally in the water, no matter how cold (have even gone in lakes with ice) except if it is snowing out. Every 5 days I do the entire bath thing using my bear can and solar heating the water - and wash my hair. I am not a soap user, though. I do use a little drop of shampoo but do this FAR away from streams. The Sierra lakes are usually fine. This is a bit brisker experience in the Rocikes. I like to be clean, and really care about being clean. I even wash my shirt about every day, wash socks, and wash hiking pants at least every 5 days too. The bear can also makes a great washing machine.
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Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby Jimr » Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:22 pm

1.5
Temps are always too cold above 11k to jump into a lake or stream. I like to wash off the hands, face, arms and pits and occasionally soak my feet. On layover days, I'll take a sponge bath in my collapsible bucket and wash my socks and shirt.
What?!
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Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby Trailguru » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:07 pm

I sure hope you guys are going inside the creek and lakes after you rinse off the sweat, bug juice, and sun lotion. I won't let the boys go inside the water without rinsing off first. I hate to filter water from the same spot if they left all their applied juices in the water, especially if it's a lake.

And absolutely NO soap anywhere near the lakes or streams..
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Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:15 pm

Sweat washed off in streams washes away quickly. I have worked in water quailty - we used to say "dilution is the solution to pollution". Aireation is a water treatment method. I seldom use insect repellant. I double rinse my clothing at home before I go out so there is no soap residue in them. As for lakes, I go away from campsites, however I jump in the lake TO wash off sweat. I do not wash off in small ponds just for that reason. A bit of my sweat in a large lake that sees little use is acceptable to me. Most of the time I am in areas where few people go. The issue here to me is that a practice that is acceptable to me in a remote lake or large lake may not be OK in a heavily used area. You have to use some judgement. I do not recall that human sweat is toxic. It was not the thought of sweat in Evolution Lake last summer that sent me up the trail to get water from a stream, it was the partly decomposed dead rodent that was floating at my feet. I am not an environmental Neanderthal, but I am not a purist either. And what is that old song - "men" sweat and women "glow". :rolleyes:

Maybe this is a topic that should have its own thread.
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Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:50 pm

I don't tend to jump in water, being a screaming coward and poor swimmer, but I've been known to take enough fuel to warm water and have a nice little soapless wipedown with my bandanna. Also a baggie of wet wipes does wonders - one per day before changing into clean base layer helps me feel less like I'm hiking in six layers of dried sweat.

My, what appealing things we bring up on backpacking forums. :rolleyes:
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Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby Trailguru » Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:35 pm

Wandering Daisy, I should have been a little more clear.

For me it's the combination of sweat, bug juice, and repellent that I'm pretty much against letting anyone in my party go in the water. I have everyone wear long sleeves anyway and by September when the skeeters are gone that is when I let them go in the water directly since sweat by itself is fine..

As far as shampooing and soaping is concerned only away from the water source with a bucket of water...
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Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby Troutdog 59 » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:34 am

It realy depends on just what period of time one is reviewing when you consider my backcountry cleanliness habits. When I first started backpacking in the 70's I would have given myself about a 0.5 :puke: . My cleanup kit consisted of some camp suds and a washcloth. Washed my face, hands,and pits about every other day and that was it. We called bug juice "Backpackers Cologne." I do recall my cleanliness habits even getting to me on one rather long and wet trip. On about day 6 of a 9 day trip from South Lake to Sawmill, we had finished chow and were settling in for bed. I was si bad I couldnt handle it, and got up, heated some water, and did a bird bath so I could sleep with myself.

This all changed in the early 80's when I began backpacking with my wife. I would give myself about a 1.5 now as I do a quick bird bath most every day and even carry deodorant these days :p I simply wash up with cold water on warm days and possibly some heated water on cooler days. Not to elaborate, just wash off the crust and start over again.

I rarely swim in anything but the lower creeks in the later part of the year, but have taken a dip or two into the lakes. The one exception for me is the Blaney Meadows out of Florence. They hot spring is warm and great to soak old muscles and bones, but the true present is the nearby "warm" lake. Apparently its has a few hot springs that feed it, and it has been nicely swimable on all but one very early trip I took ut of there. A true treat.

Ive also always done the dedicated camp sleepware thing so maybe thats why I could survive those early years long trips with so many days without cleaning up.



on
If you stand in the light, you get the feel of the night, and the music that plays in your ear......
In your mind you can hear, a voice so sweet and clear, and the music that plays in your head......
As it flows up from the ground, taking all that hear the sound, close your eyes, it’s about to begin.

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Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:44 pm

Not too get us off topic, but....

Troutdog, I never noticed your signature line. Hayden's book is a real gem and it was a great inspiration to me in my early years, given that my wife has always been my no.1 fishing buddy as was Mike Hayden's wife in all his stories. The book I never got published "Into the Land of the Giant Brookies" largely followed Hayden's (and before him McDermand's) narrative style--it was sort of the 90's version of Hayden given that my wife was also a major part of all of the fishing stories.

Anyhow, I don't recall Hayden writing too much about washing up around camp....
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:13 pm

"Backcountry cleanliness" is a contradiction in terms. And that's all I'm saying on the matter.
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