Backcountry Cleanliness | High Sierra Topix  

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.
User avatar

Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:23 am

My personal record of "uncleanliness" is 28 days. On a 35-day trip in 1969, it snowed every day straight until Day 28, when the sun finally shone and we all took a major bath. From that day forward I vowed never again to get that filfthy. We broke ice off the water to bathe and I never felt so good. After that experience, about a week has been my limit, regardless of weather or water temperatures. I have even taken a "snow bath" - hollow out a snow hole, cover it with a black plastic bag, let the sun melt it, use a snowball to scrub down and rinse off in the little pool. It is not the smell, rather that horrible sticky feeling. Greasy hair is the pits. The worst is coastal hiking where a full day hiking on the beach leaves you salty-sticky. Guess I am one of those people you see coming down the trail several days in who look like they are on Day 1 of their trip. Being clean simply lifts my spirit. This might be a "girly" thing. Hint for guys who want wives or girlfriends to go backpacking - make it easy for her to stay clean and she will be more agreeable about continuing going out with you. Make your priority staying clean and she may even want to get zip-together sleeping bags. ;)



User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2607
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby Jimr » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:02 am

Absolutely!!!
My hygiene habits are completely different when my wife is aboard. I even pack her a blow up pillow for her added comfort.
What?!
User avatar
Jimr
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1137
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:14 pm
Location: Redondo Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby gregw822 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:37 am

WD's response reminds me of the end of a 10-day solo trip I did a few years ago, coming out at Onion Valley. I needed a ride into town, and as luck would have it, two women had come off the trail no more than 15 minutes ahead of me. They had been out several days into Gardiner Basin, but they were fresh as flowers in the spring. They smelled like girls, not a hair was out of place, and even their clothes looked clean and neat. On the other hand, I was grimy and used up, and I'm sure I smelled like a long-dead marmot. (There's less incentive to stay clean when you're out solo, I guess.) I felt unworthy. They took pity on me and cheerfully gave me a lift back to civilization. I jammed myself as far into the corner of the backseat as I could manage and tried to not waft drafts of fetid male in their direction. It was a humbling experience.
User avatar
gregw822
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed May 06, 2009 3:46 pm
Location: Eugene, OR
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby SSSdave » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:56 am

The Other Tom wrote:
SSSdave wrote: .....and there is a way to do it without pain.

Can you enlighten us on your method ?


Hmmm, I've posted about getting into cool water on web boards for years so some here have probably heard this before. The conventional mindset for most backpackers who venture into our mountains during summer where water is often always cool or cold is they must endure being grubby, sticky, stinky their whole trip. Suggestions they ought jump in a pond, lake, or stream is usually met with a grimmacing facial expression and then something like..."its too COLD!" There are many that have never ever dipped into cool water. Most water in the mountains during summer is cool but not cold. Only when water is coming right out of snowy sources is it likely to be really cold below 40F degrees. I often carry a small thermometer with me and am amused checking lake and stream temps. There is a world of difference between 35F and 45F.

The key to getting into cool or cold water is staying in so briefly that the cold water does not have enough time to cool down to one's big bones where nerves are. Ever step knee deep into cold water like say on our Pacific beaches? For about 15 seconds it feels cold but then maybe 20 to 30 seconds later, suddenly one's knees cave forward as pain down deep in the bones sets in. Many are quick to jump out back to shore at that point. So what we do is get in and move around cleaning off with our hands etc as fast as we can and about 10 seconds later jump back out like a scared jack rabbit. Yeah we are in really really briefly. Never use soap in such places. When we do use soap say to wash something greasy off like fish it is well up on shore.

The next problem is one will be cold after jumping out because the water will evaporate while one dries off. Thus one had best do this when the sun is out and shining down on nicely dark boulder or bedrock next to a stream. Yeah quickly commune with that nice sun warmed rock. Sometimes a breeze may be blowing and if so one might jump in at a place out of the main breeze. Of course a towel or dry cotton t-shirt etc can be used to dry off more quickly. I'll sometimes jump in at dusk and after jumping out run into my prepared for tent where I quickly dry off atop a plastic sheet, put on thermals, then get in the down bag.

At other times there is the issue of mosquitoes. As soon as one gets all wet, few mosquitoes will actually land. The main problem is squeeters biting while taking off clothes before getting in and then after one gets out and starts drying off. Be fast undressing. Then afterward best to run into one's prepared tent haha. Believe me, I''ve done this in really bad squeeter areas without getting bit. And 10 seonds in cool water even without soap will make one will feel immensely clean.

Another issue is choice of where to take a dip. Shallow bedrock ponds can be reasonable even at alpine elevations in midday sun. Lakes are almost always warmer than streams coming from snowfields. Streams below big lakes are always moderated. Again a thermometer is useful.

Image
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:12 pm

I backpack from time to time with a guy who always looks like he stepped off the cover of GQ. Four days out and he's just about the cleanest person out there. Hat always tilted at a jaunty angle, and his clothes all match.

I on the other hand have wacky hat hair, smeared up pants and muddy shoes. My bargain basement clothing frequently clashes - olive drab pants, hot pink short sleeve shirt, blue socks, and brilliant neon buff.

I think he has a small force field that keeps the dirt off his clothes. I keep checking when he isn't looking but have yet to isolate the generator. Might be hidden in his camera.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1761
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:37 pm

Here is a chilly bath location. I did a one second in-and-and out. My crazy friend actually swam with the icebergs.

Image
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2607
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby The Other Tom » Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:08 pm

Thanks guys. Sounds like the solution is to do it fast and get it over with ! Regarding the thermometer, I used one to measure the temp in a Sierra lake once. The temp was around 60....way higher than I thought it would be, (and higher than it felt to me).
User avatar
The Other Tom
Founding Member
 
Posts: 713
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2005 6:06 pm
Location: Upstate South Carolina
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby TehipiteTom » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:34 pm

I have to say, this whole thread (with a few individual exceptions) is so bizarrely alien to me that it might as well have come from another planet. The notion that people as demonstrably hardy as y'all are would turn out to be such delicate flowers that you just couldn't bear the sort of conditions prevalent for 99.99999% of human history--well, in all honesty, I never would have guessed it. And the idea that a little grime would motivate anyone to do anything as demonstrably insane as jump in water below 60 degrees--well, if I invented a story that crazy, nobody would believe me.

I don't understand (most of) you. I have no idea what goes through your heads. I'm only glad I don't live there myself.
User avatar
TehipiteTom
Founding Member
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 8:42 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:04 pm

TehipiteTom wrote:I have to say, this whole thread (with a few individual exceptions) is so bizarrely alien to me that it might as well have come from another planet. The notion that people as demonstrably hardy as y'all are would turn out to be such delicate flowers that you just couldn't bear the sort of conditions prevalent for 99.99999% of human history--well, in all honesty, I never would have guessed it. And the idea that a little grime would motivate anyone to do anything as demonstrably insane as jump in water below 60 degrees--well, if I invented a story that crazy, nobody would believe me.

I don't understand (most of) you. I have no idea what goes through your heads. I'm only glad I don't live there myself.


About the time I can smell myself is generally when you would understand why I am such a hothouse flower that I pack a few wet wipes.

I've started leaving bug repellent at home.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1761
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby gary c. » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:49 pm

Image
I bathed before I left the house, what more do you want.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
User avatar
gary c.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 999
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2006 4:56 pm
Location: Lancaster, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby LMBSGV » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:04 pm

Make your priority staying clean and she may even want to get zip-together sleeping bags.

My wife and I have always had zip-together sleeping bags. These days it's getting harder to find them - LL Bean makes a great set.

I'm one of those Pigpen people who is a dust and dirt magnate. That's why I go into the creek or lake nearly every day. No soap, just getting the dirt and dust off and immersing my hair. I swear that the clean, cold water is a cure for dandruff - on long trips my chronic dandruff disappears.
User avatar
LMBSGV
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:42 pm
Location: San Geronimo, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Backcountry Cleanliness

Postby John Dittli » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:51 am

LMBSGV wrote:My wife and I have always had zip-together sleeping bags. These days it's getting harder to find them -


Harder to find wives or sleeping bags? Guess it depends how often one jumps in that creek.

JD
Walk the Sky: Following the John Muir Trail
User avatar
John Dittli
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 470
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:38 am
Location: Crooked Creek
Experience: N/A

PreviousNext

Return to Backpacking / Camping 101



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests