Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fantasies of Showers and Clean Clothes

Written By: Emily "Lightning" Ginger

We haven't had a campfire for at least a month. I believe this is due to a number of factors: we are too tired at the end of the day, it was more exciting in the beginning, the days are longer, and the weather has warmed up quite a bit. I know that I personally don't like sweating the smell of campfire from my pores all day when I am hiking. Really, we just haven't needed a fire. However, for the past week, as soon as we get to camp we all go to work at getting a fire started. The bugs have come out in brutally full force (smoke helps keep them away)! The bugs are everywhere and there's just no way around them. While hiking at a pace of 3-miles/ hour we have flies swarming our heads and biting us all over. When we stop walking we get eaten alive by these incessant flies and the mosquitoes jump on board too. Kate and I spray ourselves with insect repellent but they find the spots that didn't get sprayed and go to town on those few square inches. Once Brandon's tent is set up, he jumps in and rarely comes back out (sometimes to eat dinner) so that he can avoid the bugs. All daylong we are just swatting at our bodies- I'm sure it would look quite comical to an outsider.

We have also been experiencing excruciatingly hot and humid weather, on and off, for about a month (mostly on). As soon as we start hiking early in the morning, I have beads of sweat all over my face and arms. After an hour of hiking the beads of sweat have turned into streams running down my face, arms, and legs. By midday my hair and clothes are so saturated that I look like I just jumped into a lake. We only shower and do laundry about once every 5-7 days, so as you can imagine we smell RANK- I don't know how it happens but our clothes end up smelling like a combination of bleach chemicals and mildew- it's so awful that sometimes I can't stand to walk down wind from Kate or Bran. From four months of not wearing deodorant the stench has really set in our skin and clothes (showers and laundry can only do so much for us at this point). I think that since I am restricted to one set of really smelly hiking clothes, recently during the day my mind has been drifting towards thoughts of my wardrobe, lotions, and perfumes; I fantasize about the option to shower daily, as well as the different salves and garments I can wear again when I return home.

Home! My goodness! That's less than a month away! What a shock it is to be sitting in the state of New Hampshire right now. I never thought I would actually make it out of the state of Virginia, but here I am, having walked here from Georgia, with only two states left to traverse. WOW! With so little time remaining, I think we've had a wake up call- this is going to end, and soon. I feel the pressure to soak up every last bit of this backwoods experience that I can... so I guess I should get off this computer!


  1. Eat lots of garlic. Not the pills, actually cut up or smash cloves and down w/ a few ounces of water. It worked great for me in Alaska where swarms of mosquitoes were doing the same thing you describe above. You still deal w/ the noise but they rarely bite. You will definitely smell worse though, it was worth it for me. The noise alone though is enough to drive you a little nuts.

  2. Yes, garlic is the key. But it's more than you might think. It's the only way to survive the 100 Mild Wilderness in summer.

  3. Emily!!! Hello!

    I also dream of lotions and I am not even on the trail! I could blow my whole paycheck at the drug store, easily.

    I take it that your clothes are ruined for good. I have heard from long-time tree-planters that they hae to throw away all their socks, underear and bras once they are done. It's a popular summer job/adventure for some young Canadians - you camp for a full summer and plant trees up in northern British Columbia or someplace. I would guess the physial exertion and dirt factor is similar to hiking the AT. The closest I have ever come was living in a hot climate and I would sweat through the straps of my backpack - they were soaked and dripping when I would walk to work. Gross! Either way, something to tell when you are done. Enjoy the last few weeks and days and write & blog when you can.

    Anyway, we miss you! Can't wait to see you in August. Jake and I are planning to go to the racetrack one day and maybe the aquarium another.


  4. I wish we could drop a big, bug-free, dry, air-conditioned, protective bubble over you guys on the trail - like a force-field or something. Hang in there!

  5. Thanks Em. Now we have a clear visual of how you kids look and smell. Add garlic to the mix, like the anonymous posters suggest, only that will keep both bugs and fellow hikers away FOR GOOD!

    Dad and I can't wait to see you. We're excited for the finish too.

    Why aren't you there yet? Hahahaha.


  6. Garlic may keep the bugs away, but it won't make you smell any better!

  7. Don't fight the garlic! Enhance it: wash your hair in olive oil and sprinkle on a little parmasan cheese.
    all kidding aside, this city slicker is getting a vicarious thrill out of keeping up with your hike

  8. There's always more backwoods experiences available whenever you get the gumption. Sure, the AT experience is on the homestretch, but I'm sure others will come across your path!!!

    Mark (Emily's Uncle)

  9. Very cool clog. Good luck on your hike!