Note: If you are squeamish, then I advise you to skip the next 3 paragraphs.
I knew that it was a likelihood that my period would happen during this trip. I prepared by bringing supplies, both tampons and pads, as well as an extra toilet paper bag. That meant that for this trip my toilet trash bag consisted of two sets of gallon bags. The inner gallon bag of each set had Comet in it to keep the contents from stinking like anything but Comet. One outer gallon bag had nothing but air, but the other outer gallon bag had my period supplies.
And on Sunday morning, after I peed, I realized that it was a very good thing that I had brought those supplies, because I needed to use them for their intended purpose. By Sunday night, I realized that I was extremely lucky that it hasn’t started sooner, because I really hadn’t brought sufficient supplies for four days. But I had enough for 2.
And that explained the crampy feeling that I’d had since about 4 in the morning… I wasn’t rushed as we got ready to leave. This was supposed to be an easy day. We would be heading down and camping before a river crossing.
|We slept late enough for the sun to hit our camp before we left it,|
Even though the trail wasn’t exclusively downhill, I followed Ambrose for almost the entire day. I was not up to going fast or leading. I just wanted to be done with the day. Naproxen helped keep my cramps quiet, but my body still felt drained even when the pain wasn’t bad.
I went into complete pack mule mode. My only goal was to keep my nose pointed towards Ambrose’s butt.
Kinda awkward when he stopped abruptly, but it worked out for the most part.
|A small but deep stream crossing.|
We navigated a few switchbacks down to a stream crossing where we had to remove our boots yet again. After that, the steepness was less pronounced, though we still had a couple thousand feet of elevation to lose before we came to our camping spot. I was frustrated with the trail for not going faster.
I mean, it was beautiful. We walked through forests and meadows, waterfalls sparkling off of high canyon walls and profusions of flowers in every direction. But all I wanted to do was stop, maybe cry, and go to sleep.
|The water springs directly from the rock beneath the trail.|
We walked by a steam that sprung directly from the rock beneath the trail. Ambrose told me that that water should be safe to drink without filtering, because the rock it has passed through would have filtered it and not been contaminated by deer piss. I didn’t try it, but it was very pretty.
We passed by a trail junction that could lead us to Everly Lake and an unofficial path that led almost to the top of Mount Everly. At least, that’s what the guidebook told me. The sign had Benedict Creek on it, and I wasn’t feeling well enough to bother to check my map for where that might be.
The trail headed down a canyon after another deep, slow river crossing. The sun crept down the westerly wall as we hiked down the eastern side, sheltered from its rays. The footing was rocky at times, and we sometimes had to get around fallen trees, but for the most part I was able to keep my head down and hike on without thinking much.
We took a snack break after yet another river crossing. According to the map, we would cross one more time before we stayed on the side our camp would be. More switchbacks and painfully green meadows drenched in sunshine preceded a moment of getting lost. The trail simply disappeared in the deep grasses. Ambrose went one way and I went another and soon we saw that we had reached the crossing. Again, a boots off affair.
After the crossing we stopped to cook and eat lunch. Other than a plague of flies that found us, it was a pleasant stop.
|Ambrose shows up in a lot more pictures when he’s in front of me.|
By this time in the trip, both of us had acquired what I’ll kindly call a stench. We smelled foul. I think that Ambrose’s feet smelled worse than mine, but my head smelled worse than his. But to the flies, we smelled delightful, and after lunch they continued to follow us, orbiting our bodies and periodically landing unless we slathered on bug repellent.
At least we could tell when it wore off by the number of flies gathering…
Though there were many places that the trail could have used a bit of maintenance, we came upon the worst so far as we walked through the edge of a forest that dropped to our right to a boggy meadow. It seemed like a pine tree had exploded at first. There were fallen limbs, leading me to believe that someone had been working on clearing it.
Unfortunately, no one had.. We had to creatively navigate through several fallen trees to continue on our journey.
I wanted to stop. I wanted to cry and stop and be off of my aching feet and out of my stinky clothes and laying down. It was harder than I thought it would be to be out there while my period was going on. I wondered how women doing long distance thru-hikes, like the Pacific Crest Trail, dealt with this particular aspect of hiking while female.
I kept hiking.
Even though the trail seemed like it would never yield our campsite to us, I didn’t stop. I didn’t cry. I looked at the map and decided that we had to be close, based on the topography around us. If we weren’t close, then we were lost.
That thought kept me going through the hot sun and old, rocky streambeds. Until finally the trail split, and we stayed to the left instead of heading towards the river. Our trail ended in a clearly defined campsite, including a fire ring. Ambrose wasn’t sure if we had reached our desired destination, but I was.
I got my boots off and went to check on the other leg of the trail. It led directly to a river crossing, which was our certain signal that it was time to camp for the night. I soaked my sore feet in the cold water, forcing myself to keep them in for a full 30 seconds, even though the cold was painful after 10.
After I got the tent up, I fetched water and pulled out one of the luxury items I had brought.
I’ve found that for some reason, if I don’t wash my hair every three days or so, I get these awful headaches. Ambrose has never heard of this happening to anyone else, and neither have I, but they happen. One had been germinating all day, in addition to the period pains. So I wet my hair over the fire ring, and then washed my hair.
It. Felt. So. Good.
Standing up, washing my hair over a small pit of ashes and rocks, rinsing with icy cold water… best feeling ever.
Well, next to laying down when we got to the campsite. That’s what I did first.
My hair felt so soft and clean when I was done, but my hat seemed to smell even worse in contrast.
It would have been a nicer campsite if there weren’t so many ants, but it served its purpose. We left the rainfly half on again, except I put it up as a shield against the setting sun along the long side of the tent. That allowed us to stay in the tent without overheating before the sun slipped below the canyon walls. It’s just nicer inside the tent when there are so many flies and bugs around.
I made dinner, and we ate it outside the tent. I was more hungry than Ambrose. I think he snacked more while we were walking than I did. We planned on eating our other dessert, bananas foster, for breakfast the next morning.
It felt like a long night, but morning came soon enough.