From My Vagina to Yours: Hiking Tips for Women

It happens to the best of us.

It happens to the best of us (and our vaginas).

Being a  hiker AND having a vagina can be extremely inconvenient.

If that sentence grossed you out, just stop reading now. Because it’s about to get way worse. I only wish someone had told me these tricks before I started hiking. So to you women who have questions about how to manage your vagina while hiking, camping, or seeking other outdoor adventures, I invite you to benefit from my heard-earned  wisdom.

Let’s start with the easy stuff…

PEE-PEE PROBLEMS

Problem: You have to pee and you don’t have a penis.

Solution: Get a penis. Purchase the GoGirl, the Little John, the pStyle, the SheWee…lots of cleverly named options here. Basically, these products create a penis for you out of plastic. It’s a little awkward at first, sure. But after you get the hang of it, you’ll be thanking GOD for plastic!

Real-life example: Port-a-potties and pit toilets. I hate them. The plastic penis saves me from hovering my genitalia over a vat of cooking feces (and the flies that eat the feces then land on my vagina…fucking gross).

It's not as bad as it looks.

It’s not as bad as it looks.

Problem: You forgot your plastic penis and you don’t want to hover your genitalia over the port-a-potty.

Solution: Disposable cup. If you’re near a port-a-potty or pit toilet, it’s assumed you’re at a trailhead or campsite. So grab a disposable cup and head to the port-a-potty for some privacy. Pee goes in the cup, the pee goes out of cup and into the toilet, the cup goes in the garbage. Brilliant.*

Real-life example: I entered the pit toilet at the Peralta Trailhead and was greeted by a turd sitting on top of the toilet seat. Someone had also smeared the turd so there was a visible brown trail of shit everywhere. Lucky me, I hadn’t planned to use the toilet anyhow. I brought an empty Starbucks cup and then I filled it to the top line…almost a full venti!

Problem: You’re using your plastic penis on the trail and a stranger unexpectedly catches you in the act.

Solution: None. That person is left to wonder forever about your anatomy. Unless that person is a lady. If that’s the case…time to show and tell, girl! (P.S. This is why I only use the plastic penis in a port-a-potty situation.)

Real-life example: Also none. But I imagine I’d be so worried about the person’s resulting confusion about my gender, that I might chase them down to provide an explanation. “No, no, I swear, I’m a girl! See? It’s right here!”

Call me an idiot? I'll shove a used tampon in you.

Call me an idiot? I’ll shove a used tampon in you.

PERIOD PROBLEMS

Problem: You got your period.

Solution: Tampon, duh. Think ahead and bring tampons on every single hike no matter what. You’ve got your first aid kit, right? Add at least 3 heavy flow tampons to that thing. Done. Problem solved forever. And here’s an unexpected perk: Tampons make excellent kindling for fires. Just spread the cotton, throw on a spark and watch that thing ignite.

Real life example: Lou and I used a tampon to start a fire while camping. Brilliant invention, I say!

Problem: You got your period and you don’t have a tampon.

Solution: Uh, get the hell off the trail. It’s not like it’s going to get better. If things get crazy, however, open your backpack and look for anything useful. Handkerchief? Kleenex? Gauze? Hate to say it but you’re going to have to do it middle-school style and start filling the crotch of your pants with anything absorbent. And if you see another woman on the trail, good God don’t be shy. Ask her if she’s got lady supplies handy. She will help you.

Real-life example: A friend of a friend hiked into the Grand Canyon and she got caught without a tampon. By the time she arrived to the campground, the poor woman was a mess. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!

Problem: You got your period, you HAVE a tampon, and now you have to change it on the trail.

Solution: Grocery bag. Always carry at least one one white plastic grocery store bag in your pack. You’re going to use that bag much in the same way you would use it to pick up dog poop. Only this time, it’s like the dog poop has a string attached to it and you have to pull it out of your dog’s butt-hole then catch it with your bagged hand. And also, your dog lives in your pants. Sounds complicated but it can be done. In fact, I’ve mastered this maneuver and can successfully make the big switch without even removing my pants. I feel proud.*

Real-life example: Too many to count. I’ll tell you this much though, it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I see photos of the top of the flatiron.

I'm feeling a little...unfresh...down there. You know...in my...swamp thing.

Hmmmm. I’m feeling a little…unfresh…down there. You know, in my…swamp thing.

GENERAL VAGINA PROBLEMS

Problem: Swamp vagina.

Solution: Bring Kleenex on every hike. You’re just one discreet wipe away from feeling fresh again!

Real-life example: When a hiking partner and I finally confessed to this unfortunate side effect of having a vagina on a summer desert hike, we forever called the resulting incident, “The Great Wipe-Out.”*

Problem: Cameltoe, moose knuckle, turtle paw, frontal wedge…whatever you want to call it.

Solution: Embrace it. I prefer yoga pants to traditional hiking pants when I’m out on the trail and while I try to be conscious of vaginal fabric bunching, the reality is, I often stop caring. I’m sweaty, dirty, thirsty, and tired. And, most likely, I had to degrade myself with doggie-bag tampon changing or pissing in a cup while staring at a smeared turd. Now I have to obsess about my cameltoe? Whatever.

Real-life example: I’d rather not know. If you’re reading this and you’ve hiked with me, please refrain from commenting. Thank you.

That’s it! I can only hope that writing this blog post will  help all the other vagin–I mean–women looking for outdoor adventures!

How do I know so much? Well, my vagina and I have hiked over 100 trails in Arizona. Then my vagina and I wrote a book about 81 of them called Take a Hike Phoenix. For less vulgar, more G-rated writing about hiking, please visit my other blog, liliatakesahike.com.

*I adhere to a very strict pack-it-in-pack-it-out policy. There’s no excuses on this one, hikers, and it includes the icky stuff. Littering is bad and, also, are you really going to make a park ranger pick up your tampon, piss cup, or vag Kleenex for you? Don’t be cruel!

I Don’t Hate Zooey Deschanel (Anymore)

I used to think this was bullshit.

I used to think this was bullshit.

I have spent years proclaiming hatred for the actress/singer/hipster darling Zooey Deschanel.

But I do not hate her anymore.

Here’s how it happened:

Hate Reason #1: The Lost Girl

I despised Zooey because I watched a bad movie called Winter Passing and she played the “lost girl” role. I then blamed her for the creation of this weak female archetype: Girl in her 20′s with less-than-perfect parents who has indiscriminate and unemotional sex with lots of men and is prone to suddenly moving from city to city. In this version of “lost girl”, she also drowns a kitten. The “lost girl” movie role is a two-dimensional excuse for a hot girl to be slutty (and therefore accessible) on screen.

How I talked myself out of Hate Reason #1

Zooey was a young brunette trying to make a career in acting. I’ve done more than a few lame things in my career as a writer to keep a paying job, so I get it. Besides, she didn’t write the role. A girl’s gotta pay the bills somehow.

Hate Reason #2: She’s Pretty

I got mad at Zooey Deschanel because she wears cute little girl dresses and she’s constantly blinking her big blue eyes under her flirty brunette bangs.

How I talked myself out of Hate Reason #2

I’m a brunette with bangs and blue eyes. Let’s face it. She does it waaaay better than I do. And after reading Lean In, I’m big enough to admit that I was just jealous.

She does it better. I'm okay with that now.

Look man, I’m no slouch. But she just does it better. And I’m okay with that now.

Hate Reason #3: All the Boys Like Her

And it seems like every guy my age wants to do her.

How I talked myself out of Hate Reason #3

Jealous. Again. (Duh.)

Hate Reason #4: Her Music

Technically I never hated her music. I’m big enough now to admit that  from the minute I heard She & Him’s (that’s her band) Why do You Let Me Stay Here song on the myspace page of a guy I drunkenly made out with then mystalked afterward, I loved her music. I even bought the She & Him Christmas album for God’s sake.

How I talked myself out of Hate Reason #4

I didn’t talk myself out of it…I just started talking about it out loud. Like a true coward, I used to only listen to She & Him by myself in the car.

Hate Reason #5: Her “Bad” Acting

Between Winter Passing, that horrible Wizard of Oz re-interpretation, and 500 Days of Summer, I did not have a high opinion of her acting.

How I talked myself out of Hate Reason #5

Let’s face it, those roles sucked. I’ve already explained the irritating lameness of “lost girl”. Dorothy wasn’t her fault. The writing was unforgettably awkward. And as far as 500 Days of Summer goes, Zooey actually did a pretty good job in an acting role that was designed to absorb the residual hate for some pathetic, self-victimizing, crybaby asshole who never got over his ex girlfriend (and then made a boring movie about it).

Love Reason #1: New Girl

Sure, the first few episodes play up the adorably quirky Zooey Deschanel caricature in an annoying way, but as the show moves on, things get better. Way better. In fact, when my Netflix binge ended on the last available episode, I felt sad for days that it was over. I’m still sad. She was hilarious in that show and I can’t wait to see more.

Because I love Zooey Deschanel.

Lucky Girl

This will be easy!

This weekend, we planned a 6-mile loop around Little Granite Mountain in Prescott, AZ. Due to poor instructions, we back-tracked and had to restart, which added 1/2 mile to our day’s total. No big deal.

As we abandoned the first leg of the trail to hook into the 2nd part of our loop, we discovered that this loop seriously sucked. The trail was overgrown with massive thickets of chest-high thorny bushes. As the branches snagged our clothing and scratched our bare legs, we ran into two women on horseback.

“This trail gets really rough,” said one of the middle-aged horse ladies, “hikers don’t usually come around here.”

So we turned back…adding 1 more wasted mile.

Once we returned to the original trail, we decided to continue to Vista Point, located on top of Granite Mountain.

“The map says it’s 4.1 miles total,” I said. I knew I could handle that.

After the first mile of climbing, however, I turned into a little monster. At this point, I had already hiked 5 miles and we weren’t at the top. Not even close.

I was pissed.

“Okay, you’ve got to start talking about something to keep my  mind off my misery,” I told Lou.

“What do you want to talk about?” Lou innocently asked.

“I don’t KNOW!” I snapped.

The conversation ended. But I kept complaining as I realized that the map indicated one-way mileage, not the trail’s total. With our wasted backtracking and the improvised commitment to complete this Granite Mountain Vista Point trail, I estimated we’d be close to 10 miles by the end of the day.

“GodDAMMIT!” I blurted, out of the blue.

“Just take a minute and look where we are,” Lou said as he gestured toward the incredible scenery before us.

“I GET IT!”

Whatever.

Poor Lou. I repeatedly apologized later, of course.

“I think you handled it really well,” he said. “We just have to accept that, during this process, we’ll each have a moment where we’ve just had it. You pushed through and finished. I’m proud of you.”

This actually happened. Lou is actually this good to me.

I can’t believe my luck.

Funny Body

By Abode of Chaos, flickr, Creative Commons

Look! There’s a body!

Here’s a list of goofy facts about my body (nothing gross or sexual so don’t get too excited).

I’ve never had a bloody nose. Not once.

I’ve never been stung by a bee or wasp.

When I get the hiccups, I make the same hiccuping sound as a cartoon character.

I have a very loud, un-ladylike sneeze.

I have a mole on the bottom of my foot.

I can’t touch my tongue to my nose.

I can, however, roll my tongue.

I am not double-jointed or flexible in any way.

My joints consistently crack even with the slightest movements (e.g. my shoulder cracks when I switch lanes while driving).

I’ve only had two partial cavities in my whole life.

My eye color is grey but looks blue or green, depending on what I’m wearing.

I’ve never broken a bone.

I never blow dry my hair. Its crazy-straightness is completely natural.

I have a red birth mark on the back of my neck…my “stork bite”.

I can suck my stomach in to such a dramatic degree that I look like an extra in Schindler’s List. It’s disgusting.

My Friday Morning, A True Story

By chatfly, flickr. Creative Commons

We only see what we choose to.

I had to run a few errands early this morning. For the entire trip, I listened to NPR on my iPhone. This way, as I hopped in and out of my car to complete necessary tasks, I could continue to listen to the day’s news.

After finishing, I returned home. I was listening to a story about the Women’s Olympic soccer event as I pulled into the driveway, unlocked the door, and rushed into the my office. I was running late. I was also thinking that I would talk to Lou when he got home from work. Our yard is overgrown and looks like hell. I’m embarrassed.

Still listening to the news on my iPhone speakers, I powered up my laptop. Then a man walked into the room.

I thought I was alone in the house.

I screamed.

Then I noticed this person was wearing my husband’s shirt. Then I noticed this person was my husband.

Lou grabbed me, pulled me close, apologized, laughed, and kissed me.

“Didn’t you see me?” he asked.

I hadn’t.

Then he explained that not only was his car still in the driveway, but he had been sitting on the couch when I walked in the house. As I cruised by, he waved and said hello.

“I thought you were mad at me so I followed you in here.”

I didn’t notice any of it. Not his car, not the wave, and not his hello. I had assumed that by the time I got back, he’d be gone. So my eyes and ears ignored all evidence of his presence.

Dude.

Backpacks, a History

This is surly teen Lilia, trying to act like she doesn’t give a f*ck about how her backpack is styled.

When I was in early elementary school (late 1980s), it was cool to have a backpack. Because then you were all grown up like the big kids.

In late elementary school (early 1990s), it was fashionable to wear your backpack using only one shoulder strap. Only serious nerds used both.

In middle school (mid1990s), wearing both straps was back in. But only if you wore your backpack very low. And, sometimes, the straps would slip through the little plastic thingies and suddenly your backpack would drop right off. Very embarrassing.

In high school (late 1990s), I can’t remember because I was too busy getting high.

In college (early 2000s), everything switched to the messenger bag. This was the worst. The large strap between my boobs was degrading.

Today, I wear a CamelBak. I use both shoulder straps and regularly clip the cross-strap over my chest for extra support. There’s nothing fashionable about this.

This concludes the history of backpacks.

Three Beers

Please, no…no more!

Today is my day off from hiking.

So, last night, after a super-awesome 4-mile hike with a new pal, I allowed myself a beer. Then I drank two more.

And, guess what? I’m hungover! What the hell?

There was a time, friends, when three beers would have just been a warm-up. Of course, that was when I was in my mid-20s, single, and constantly trolling the local bars.

Today, I’m 31, married, and usually asleep on the couch by 11 p.m.

This hangover is ruining my morning. And I think it just ruined my opportunity to end the week with a decent blog post.

Oof.