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!

PC to Mac…What Was I Thinking?

Yeah? Well, you did a SHIT job.

Yeah? Well, you did a SHIT job.

I’m writing from the screen of my twice-as-expensive-as-any-other-laptop-I’ve-ever-purchased-before MacBook Pro.

I’ve been a PC user for years. Because PCs are cheaper.

“You’re a book author now,” Lou said. “It’s time you get yourself a good piece of equipment. As a musician, I wouldn’t hesitate to spend money on a quality instrument.”

Since this thing arrived, I’ve (taking a deep breath and using grown-up corporate words) been challenged by the transition in the following ways.

No right click. God, I miss the right click. It was so nice to be able to have all my options at my fingertips (well, my right hand ring fingertip, to be accurate).

Only a “delete” key. So the “delete” key functions like the backspace key and I don’t have a delete key at all. This means I can only eliminate the text behind my cursor and not in front of it. As a writer, I require full functionality to erase my work from every direction, dammit.

Hidden scroll bar. I actually had to change settings in order for the scroll bars to show up. Come on!

Icon overload. Everything is a flippin’ icon. There are no actual WORDS on my desktop. A little explanation would be nice.

Minimizing is a problem. Here’s a new one I just discovered. I maximized the window. Now I can’t figure out how to shrink the damn thing back down. I guess I’ll google THIS basic move, too.

No right click. I already covered this. But the amount of red-eyed craziness this is causing warrants a 2nd mention.

I have many more complaints. Please tell me this gets better.

Knock, Knock…

©iStockphoto.com/Raycat

Who’s there?
©iStockphoto.com/Raycat

I just spent the last two hours researching sex on the internet.

Lou and I have been married for 2 1/2 years. I’m turning 32 in July. So I guess it’s time to get knocked up.

Now that we’ve started this discussion in earnest and set some dates for doctor appointments, I’ve been struggling with the urge to write about it.

As a side note, I wish I would just not write about it. But if I could keep myself from it, I probably wouldn’t be able to call myself a writer. As it is, I’ll write about it and deal with the stresses that come along with this exposure.

What if people from work read this and are disappointed? Why do I feel like pregnancy is a betrayal to my employer?

What if I can’t get pregnant? What if this blog turns into a depressing journal of my infertility-related mourning?

If I post this blog, do I have to keep blogging about every step of this pregnancy thing? Am I being tacky?

And, as usual, writing about myself means I’ll invite everyone to witness the less-than-pleasant sides of my personality. As an example, I’m already feeling bitter about the whole thing.

I assume a good future-mom would never feel bitterness. A good future-mom would softly mention her intentions to a few close friends. And when she spoke of it, she’d gently grin, brush her abdomen with her hand, and be magically bathed in morning light. Her soft-spoken announcement would be private, beautiful,  and (in my opinion) hideously vaginal.

Today, my announcement is made via the low-brow blogosphere. And as I blab about a decision that’s supposed to be private, I will express my disgusting fears of stretch marks, big nipples, constipation, weird underwear, the surefire compromise to my career, and the reality that my vag is going to literally rip open.

In all moments when I’m lacking grace, I rely on the advice of other women. Today, I must remember my mother’s words from a few years ago:

“It’s not fun. But at least you get to bring home a cute little baby afterward.”

Goal for this week: Start taking a multivitamin.

Update: Just to be clear, I’m not pregnant. We’re researching and arranging the preparations necessary to become pregnant. Just want to be 100% clear on that, thanks.

I Hate Everything

She gets it.

Title look familiar? I completely ripped off the name of this post from my friend’s blog because I’m feelin’ it today, people! I’m feelin’ the HATE!

I try not to be negative. Because, according to The Secret and pop quantum physics, it’ll give you cancer or make you poor.

But, today, I’m in such a foul mood that I don’t care about staying positive. My insides are black.

Why?

Because I haven’t eaten lunch yet. Because I’m behind on my book writing. Because I’m drowning in other work today. Because I had to cancel plans. Because I hate the way my pots and pans are inconveniently stored in the cupboard. Because I miss my husband. Because my blogs have totally SUCKED lately. Because there are so many fucking IDIOTS in this country who hide behind religion just so they can hate gays. Because my computer is slow and I probably need to reboot but I don’t want to close all my windows and log out of everything to do so. Because this essay edit I’m supposed to be working on is taking forever for some reason.

I could go on.

But, now that I’ve typed out all these ridiculous reasons for being in such a terrible state (Okay, all except for the gay thing…that’s one’s legit. But, really? I’m mad about pots and pans? Jesus, I’m spoiled), I feel really, really silly. And ungrateful.

Hate is released.

2012 Summer NOlympics

Access denied.

I’m missing the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The strong finishes, the 2/10ths of a point deductions, the national anthems, the short videos about each athlete’s back-story, those grit-your-teeth-please-please-please-nail-the-landing moments…all of it. I’m missing all of it!

Because I don’t have television.

I’m not one of those crystal-rubbing hippies that doesn’t believe in TV. I just don’t want to have such a powerful source of time-suckage constantly at the ready. I feel like we already spend too many hours viewing what we  scrape up from our Netflix instant queue or other online sources.

The idea of having a cable package with all those television channels fills me with fear.

“Watching TV is my number-one priority,” I said to my piano teacher when I was ten years old. This was my vulgar response when she told me I needed to dedicate more time to practice.

You ruined my adult life.

With a frazzled, over-worked mother and three older brothers who rarely involved me in their games, I spent too much time wide-eyed and disengaged as I deteriorated in front of the television. Duck Tales, TaleSpin, Muppet Babies, Charles in Charge, Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Real Ghostbusters…I even took the time to sit through Gummy Bears. And I clearly remember thinking that cartoon sucked!

My tolerance for mildly-entertaining television knows no bounds. I simply cannot have it in my house.

This is the consequence for overdoing it when I was a kid. I’d gladly trade the time spent watching those shows just to get in on the women’s gymnastics team competition.

Well, okay, all the shows except Duck Tales.

No-No Words

Insert in mouth.

As I’m sure you know all too well, I have a filthy mouth.

My mother, who is a proper lady, never swears. Instead she says stuff like…

Drat!

Rats!

Oh, crumb!

That’s scuzzy!

Darn-it!

Shoot!

Shucks!

It’s just not fun!

Using her language, I will now describe my day…

Drat! Today was scuzzy. Lots of things went wrong and it was just no fun! Oh, crumb!

(I don’t know how that woman lives. That was not satisfying at all.)

The Littlest Lawn Mower

By brendan-c, flickr, Creative Commons

It’s for kids!

As I mentioned yesterday, I absolutely refuse to mow the lawn.

This is not out of laziness. It’s for my mental health.

For as long as I can remember, I was mowing the lawn at my mother’s house.

And while I don’t recall the specific age at which my mother deemed me old enough to manage a gasoline-run machine with rotating blades and wheels, I know I was  little.

I know because I didn’t yet have the strength to successfully yank the pull-string to start the motor.

After finally harnessing the resolve to do this crummy chore in the first place, my tiny muscles inevitably failed me. Yank after unsuccessful yank to the toggle, my helplessness often brought me to tears as the daylight would slowly burn out, robbing me of any chance to get the job done.

It was a devastating defeat.

I knew better than to ask for help from any of my three strapping, older brothers  — strong boys who were entirely capable of starting it on the first try. I learned from experience that I would have to endure relentless mockery for being so stupid and weak. And, after finally starting it for me, they’d probably give me a dead arm.

I was on my own.

So, eventually, I mastered an effective method.

I would pull the lawnmower into the carport. And, with one fist grasping the handle and the other gripping the toggle connected to the pull-string, I would roll the mower at full running speed down the length of our driveway.

Just before reaching the curb, I’d let go of the handle, grip the toggle with both hands, and throw my entire body weight in the opposite direction. Then, I’d whip back around and grab the mower before it went careening into the street.

With any luck, I’d hear the engine grumble and catch. Success.

(For the record, my shoulder and arm muscles were always sore the next day.)

When I hit my teenaged years, the last of the brothers moved out. My mother was now back in the rotation for mowing.

She hired a crew to take care of it.

Finally free, I resolved to never, ever mow a lawn again. To this day, I would gladly go into debt to hire someone to do it. In fact, I’d rather burn the grass to a charred landscape than yank that stupid pull-string ever again.

I did my time.

Chored to Death

Andrew Kelsall, flickr, Creative Commons

I don’t understand you.

When you work from home, you’re constantly reminded of all the household chores that you neglect because you’re buried in deadlines. So, when you sit to write your blog for the day, guess what happens?

The Worst:

(Includes errands and chores I simply cannot stomach.)

Emptying the Dishwasher: Because the clanging of the dishes hurts my ears and then I can’t stop flinching.

Cleaning the Camelpak Bladders: Other outdoorsy active types know the specific hell that is cleaning out the tubes and mouthpieces then figuring out how to get the dang bladder to dry.

Laundry: Start to finish. It’s pretty sad how laundry-deficient I am.

Mowing the Lawn: I absolutely refuse. There’s a very good reason for this. I just might have to blog about that tomorrow.

Taking out the Garbage: When I lived alone, things got scary.

Running the Garbage Disposal: I’m convinced something is going to come flying out, land in my eyeball, and blind me.

The Acceptable:

(Includes errands and chores I don’t mind doing.)

Dishes: It’s easy to get in the zone with this one. Talk radio or a phone conversation is a good distraction.

Cooking: I’ve accepted my fate. It’s also fun to make yummy things that make other people happy.

Making the Bed: Lou doesn’t know how to properly make a bed so when I do it correctly, I feel superior.

Ironing: Same with the dishes. Call a friend and get in the zone. Only this time, try not to let perfectionism take over.

Emptying the Litter Box: The ends more than justify the means.

The Best:

(Includes errands and chores I enjoy for some sick reason.)

Vacuuming: I like to make patterns in the carpet. Very satisfying.

Dusting: Whatever wood cleaner/shiner stuff we use smells good. And I like to rearrange the bric-a-brac on our shelves in new ways.

Mending: This sounds so 19th century but I’m known to repair a seam or button from time to time. And sewing is such a lost art, the fact that I know how to thread a sewing machine and bobbin makes me feel like I have superpowers.

Cleaning Mirrors: This is probably left over from childhood. It was the easiest chore on the family sign-up sheet.

Washing the Car: If you don’t have a pool in your backyard, this is your summer water activity.

The Wedding Planner

Pom pom coordination requires a lot of delegation.

I’m staring down a potential project that has so many moving pieces, I’m quite intimidated.

As I was imagining the incredible organization, management, and effort this will take, I felt that uncomfortable buzz as my blood pressure was rising.

Then I remembered something…and a fierce empowerment washed my nervousness away.

My inner-self said, “Bitch, you planned your own fucking wedding! You can DO this!”

Of course, I had plenty of help with my wedding from friends and family.

But, no matter how much assistance, the insurmountable amount of decision-making (about a huge event which is supposed to be heartfelt, touching, entertaining, and a kick-butt party — oh, and don’t forget that you are requiring two families to merge and you’re forcing every single person from every single circle of your life to exist in the same room together AND you’re supposed to look like a goddamn movie star the entire time) is all up to the bride-to-be.

It’s enough to send anyone into a tailspin.

Also, in my case, I was trying like mad to cut corners on cost so a lot of it was DIY.

DIY sounds real cute and delightful but don’t be fooled. There’s nothing cute about a stressed-out-skeletor-lookin’ bride-to-be having a melt-down over homemade bouquets, pom poms, hair fascinators, and boutineers in her apartment — an apartment she hasn’t cleaned in months.

Anyway, I’ll have to remember this the next time the walls start closing in on me.

Then, maybe I won’t have to resort to this:

Yep, I was THAT bride.

Photos by Ryan & Denise Photography…best wedding photographers in AZ.

Inventions I Hate

By auberirdische sind gesund on flickr, Creative Commons.

You. You suck.

Plastic Blister Packaging

You know what I’m talking about. It’s the packaging from hell designed by the devil that is sealed all the way around the item so you must use very sharp scissors to cut all four sides off. Careful not to slice your fingers on the razor-sharp plastic edge.

Kleenex Hand Towels

For real? These are disposable towels for the bathroom in your home. I suppose people felt this way when the paper towel made it into the kitchen but, come on! I have Earth-Day guilt just looking at the product.

Chapstick

Why? Why did they do this to me? I’m convinced that if Chapstick were not invented, my lips would successfully manage their own moisture. Instead, I’m addicted to this tube of waxy goo and if I don’t have it, my lips crack and bleed. Terrible stuff!

Digital Photography

I miss the thrill of racing to the drugstore to pick up a developed roll of film. I miss flipping through the images and hating all the pictures of myself. I miss photo albums. And, most of all, I miss all the digital photos I lost when I broke up with my ex and he kept the computer.

Any New Gadget

I can’t afford it, I feel stupid for not knowing how to use it, and it automatically renders my current suite of gadgets out-dated.

The Diva Cup

The name insults me. I hate how marketers for menstruation try to make my period some sort of sassy event. It’s not. Now let’s stop talking about it.

Urinals

Some of the restaurants in town have unisex bathrooms and, as I’m re-applying lipstick, I’m forced to look at a urinal. I’ve also seen a bunch of them lined up in bathrooms (when the Mens room door swings open too wide) and I can’t believe that men just stand next to each other to pee. Can’t they cover that stuff up?

This Blog Post

Its negative and annoying. If I had more time today, I’d scrap it and start over.