OMG—Don't you sleep on the ground and get dirty?!?!?!
Yes, we do. And we don’t always sleep great—but then again, we don’t always sleep well at home, either.
We've tried a lot of different systems to help us sleep on the trail--M in particular sometimes has trouble--but it just takes a day or two to get into the rhythm of it all. P travels a lot for work, and often has similar troubles sleeping in a new hotel room. And with our lightweight air mattresses, we sleep pretty darn comfortably in the tent.
And while a hot bath starts to seem like the closest thing to heaven after five days on the trail, the truth is that you get used to being a little dirty. After all, when we were kids, we all got dirty, and it didn’t kill us.
Perhaps our biggest breakthrough on this topic was when M read “Going Light with Backpack or Burro,” a Sierra Club book that was published in the 1950’s. While she started to read it out of curiosity about burros, she was stunned by the idea that in this book, bringing a second shirt was considered necessary only if you were going to be on the trail for more than two weeks. Otherwise, you could just make do with one. Two weeks; one shirt.
She doesn’t bring just one shirt (usually two, so that one can get washed) but it did convince her that the usual urban concepts of cleanliness were just not all that important up in the mountains. Once you are on the trail, everybody hikes. Everybody gets dirty. Everybody smells a little bit. And we usually rinse off when we find a lovely lake or stream at the end of the day.
Do we look and smell as good as the people in the TV commercials for toiletries? Nope. As wonderful as we do when we go to work in the morning? Nope. But not worrying about that is one of the pleasures of being in the mountains. And we enjoy that, too.