First Year Trip

Preparing for your First Year Trip - Wilderness Living

Going to the Bathroom

One aspect of life in the woods that is very different from front-country living is the lack of bathrooms and showers. Spending 5 days in the wilderness includes learning how to keep clean when there aren't showers and going to the bathroom in the woods. But don't worry, this trip is the first time many participants have been in the woods, so your leaders will explain everything you need to know to be comfortable.

There are some special considerations for hygiene in the woods you should know before you come on the trip. First, we strongly recommend that you do not bring deodorant, soap, or scented body lotion with you. There are several reasons for this. Wild animals in the areas we use, such as chipmunks, mice and brown bears, are attracted to the same delicious odors that you enjoy, and if they smell something good, they will bite through your pack in search of a bite to eat. We provide biodegradeable soap, which helps keep us clean and has less impact on the environment than commercial soaps made with perfumes and phosphates. Also, wearing deodorant when you are hiking every day and not showering is not good for you because it traps sweat and the toxins it excretes under the surface of your skin. When this happens for days on end, it can cause rashes or infections.

Brushing Your Teeth

Oral hygiene is the least daunting part of keeping clean in the backcountry. While you won't have running water, you can still brush your teeth. You should still bring a toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste; your leaders will teach you how to spray the water you rinse your mouth with to most reduce the impact on the environment. Also, if you are used to using mouthwash of any sort, you shouldn't bring it with you as you wouldn't have anywhere to spit it out.

Eye Care in the Woods

Wearing contact lenses on the trip may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. You will not have access to running water on the trip, but we do provide biodegradable soap. You may also bring a small bottle of instant hand sanitizer with you on the trip. In this way you will be able to clean your hands for removing and putting your contacts in. Also, make sure to bring an extra pair of contacts and/or glasses as well as plenty of solution for cleaning your contact lenses.

Feminine Hygiene

Dealing with your period in the woods

It may sound like a bummer, but it doesn't have to be. Here are a few suggestions for making yourself as comfortable and prepared as possible.

1. Be Prepared. Even if you are not expecting to get your period during the trip, bring adequate supplies anyway. The change in diet, the strenuous exercise, and spending a lot of time with other women can all affect your cycle. This is even true if you are on the pill. Your leaders will not have extra supplies, nor will you have access to a store, so come equipped!
2. The Backcountry Period Kit. We suggest the following system for dealing with feminine hygiene in the woods.

-1 small, dark colored, opaque bag or stuff sack
-3 small ziplock bags
-1 travel pack of baby wipes (for cleaning purposes)
-a generous supply of tampons (tampons are much easier to deal with than pads, but if you have to use pads, go ahead).

1. Take the tampons (or pads) out of the box and put them all into one ziplock bag. (Why carry around a useless cardboard box all week? The ziplock will also protect your supply from the rain.)
2. Put the travel pack of baby wipes inside a second ziplock bag. (Keep those vital cleaning supplies moist & protected from the elements.)
3. Keep the third ziplock bag empty to use as a mini-garbage for used supplies -- all dirty baby wipes, used tampons, and tampon wrappers should go into the garbage ziplock. (Kind to the environment and to the group garbage!) If you are a pad user, you may need bigger and/or multiple ziplocks. If you are concerned about odor, you can put a used tea bag in the garbage ziplock after breakfast on the trail.
4. Put all three bags inside the opaque bag. Voila: you have a self-contained period kit! (Oh, so neat and discreet.) On the trail, you should keep this in an accessible part of your pack.

Questions? Contact us at . Updated June 29, 2006