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#84234 - 12/04/07 04:55 PM Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos
2brnot2b Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/07
Posts: 22
OK, let me preface this by saying I am a backpacker of little experience... a dayhiker for only a couple of seasons looking forward to expanding into multi-day hikes in the spring / summer. I am reading a bunch of hiking books and trying to plan intelligently, and there are a few issues such books deal with only briefly that concern me. Some topics, I guess, are almost taboo-- #2 below for example. Yes, the numbering is significant.

1. How hard is it to sleep on the trail? Obviously this is different for everyone, but does the cold or wet or noise keep a lot of people from sleeping well? Does anyone use earplugs at night? Obviously this would present a SAFETY issue... one might want to HEAR what is going on around you at night, BUT a few nights of poor sleep leading to exhaustion ALSO present a safety issue! What is your experience?

2. After eliminating bodily wastes, how do you get clean? I mean, if one is not showering daily, things could get really UNCOMFORTABLE down there... dare I use the word "itchy." Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about; toilet paper does not get one as clean as soap and water if you know what I mean. And your hands... what is the best way to really clean them after the business end is done?

3. What happens when your gear gets wet? Say one is on a longer hike, walking for a couple of days in heavy rain, setting up camp, packing up, unfortunate little leaks in the tent or bag... I can imagine everything getting pretty much SOAKED. What do you do besides start to lose your mind or walk off the trail?

4. I met a throughhiker on the AT (in MA - Beartown State Park area) in August while I was on a dayhike. He was clean shaven! I know beards aren't mandatory, but I wondered if he shaved regularly and if so, what water he used. I didnt think to ask him... we chatted about the usual things.

5. Do you "bathe" in streams, ponds, or lakes? Obviously, traditional soap is frowned upon because of its environmental aspect. What do you use? Do you worry about being interrupted while trying to get clean?

I hope this doesn't all sound like trolling-- they are meant as serious questions, except maybe #4. I am sure the first three are concerns shared by others people when they are just starting out.

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#84235 - 12/04/07 05:28 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:

1. How hard is it to sleep on the trail? Obviously this is different for everyone, but does the cold or wet or noise keep a lot of people from sleeping well? Does anyone use earplugs at night? Obviously this would present a SAFETY issue... one might want to HEAR what is going on around you at night, BUT a few nights of poor sleep leading to exhaustion ALSO present a safety issue! What is your experience?


For me, easy in a hammock. Although I'm not too bad on an insulated BA mat either. I'm not cold
if I'm prepared. I usually sleep better on the trail than at home.

I don't tend to take earplugs, bug have friends who do - if you're bothered by others noise you
may want them for in a campsite.

Quote:

2. After eliminating bodily wastes, how do you get clean? I mean, if one is not showering daily, things could get really UNCOMFORTABLE down there... dare I use the word "itchy." Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about; toilet paper does not get one as clean as soap and water if you know what I mean. And your hands... what is the best way to really clean them after the business end is done?


For me, I take a few baby wipes.

Take TP and wipes to privy - Go. wipe with tp. Take baby wipe, wash hands a bit if you want, then clean backside with baby wipe. deal with the TP and baby wipe appropriately. then once leaving
privy, a dab of alcohol gel (if carried) or a little touch of alcohol stove fuel.

Quote:

3. What happens when your gear gets wet? Say one is on a longer hike, walking for a couple of days in heavy rain, setting up camp, packing up, unfortunate little leaks in the tent or bag... I can imagine everything getting pretty much SOAKED. What do you do besides start to lose your mind or walk off the trail?


If stuff gets wet, I get wet. I don't melt <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Seriously, if you're getting your sleeping bag wet, you're not in practice. Sure, occasionally
you can get a little wet, and if so, you dry it out. probably not SOAKED.- The only time
I've gotten my sleeping bag wet was a full on spill in a river crossing where my whole pack
went in with me.. But yes, in such a situation you might have to walk off the trail if
you couldn't dry off.

As for wet clothing, I just wear it till it dries, or hang it up at night, or both..

Quote:

4. I met a throughhiker on the AT (in MA - Beartown State Park area) in August while I was on a dayhike. He was clean shaven! I know beards aren't mandatory, but I wondered if he shaved regularly and if so, what water he used. I didnt think to ask him... we chatted about the usual things.


Not hard to shave with minimal water, I don't.

Quote:

5. Do you "bathe" in streams, ponds, or lakes? Obviously, traditional soap is frowned upon because of its environmental aspect. What do you use? Do you worry about being interrupted while trying to get clean?


Sometimes. depending on the location and the water. I usually don't use any sort of soap, You'd
be surprised how pleasantly clean you can scrub out a pair of polypro underwear and socks off
on a rock and scrub yourself down with them. If I'm truly filthy I may pre-wash my underwear
and myself in my pot with a little campsuds and discard the water appropriately.

More often than "taking a bath" in lakes and ponds, I just do a little "underwear and sock" laundry
in my pot, and scrub myself down at the same time.

No, I don't worry about being interrupted, but others might not like the scenery if they do <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#84236 - 12/04/07 05:39 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2838
Loc: Portland, OR
I seem to have given away my copy of the classic book on this subject, titled (without the expurgation): How To Sh*t In the Woods. I cannot recall the author - which is why I went to my bookshelf looking in the first place. In any event, this book covers just about all aspects of the subject. try to locate a copy. It was published by Ten Speed Press.

The only real difficulty with a full and frank discussion of the subject on this board is not the embarassment of breaking of social taboos, but the fact that the software is set to automatically nag any poster who uses a taboo word. This requires a fair amount of ingenuity, or childishness, to circumvent - and tends to derail such discusssions into silliness. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

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#84237 - 12/04/07 06:28 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
Wolfeye Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/07
Posts: 413
Loc: Seattle, WA
1. I sometimes hear about how poorly people have slept. Personally, a comfortable sleeping pad is the best thing to help get a good night's rest. Some people can take power naps anywhere, while others sleep hard because of all the hiking they've done.

2. I advise the use of baby wipes, in travel-size packs, every few days at least. I even use 'em on feet & armpits, etc. They're also good to have if you can't find any good water source for face & hand washing at the end of the day.

3. Having grown up in a temperate rain forest, I can say that things do in fact get wet... you basically pack things in ziplocks & stuffsacks and make do. It's really not so bad so long as you stay warm.

4. Some people think that optional things like shaving & using deoderant are important, but I figure that most people expect to "let go" when they go hiking for a while, at least in my group of friends. To each their own.

5. I've bathed a few times in the wild, just using a travel cloth & water. I've never worried about passers-by since I usually stick to the backcountry.

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#84238 - 12/04/07 07:21 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
[quote]
1. How hard is it to sleep on the trail? I get my BEST sleep in the backcountry.

2. After eliminating bodily wastes, how do you get clean? I wipe. If necessary, I wash with some water if I start to itch. Mostly, I hike and sweat till every thing is pretty much washed away.

3. What happens when your gear gets wet? Prep your pack with a trash compactor bag liner. Protect your gear. And learn to live with "comfortably damp".

4. I met a throughhiker on the AT (in MA - Beartown State Park area) in August while I was on a dayhike. He was clean shaven! I thru-hiked in '99. Trust me, he shaved during a town stop. NOBODY shaves in the backcountry unless you're forced to like I was in the Marine Corps. Be a mammal. Grow some hair.

5. Do you "bathe" in streams, ponds, or lakes? I 'swim". No soap. Not really needed. Just rinse off the sweat.
_________________________
http://www.trailjournals.com/BearpawAT99/

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#84239 - 12/05/07 06:38 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
I answered in the quotes.

Quote:

1. How hard is it to sleep on the trail? Obviously this is different for everyone, but does the cold or wet or noise keep a lot of people from sleeping well?

I only camp where there are minimal people, and therefore, less noise. I prep for the cold and wet thing, and can almost eliminate it.

2. After eliminating bodily wastes, how do you get clean?

Baby wipes, petroleum jelly, alchohol jell for hands.

3. What happens when your gear gets wet?

I am annul about keeping my sleeping bag dry. I usually pack it in a waterproof bag that you can push all the air out, then put it in another garbage bag. My clothes are also in a waterproof bag that pushes air out. Also, no cotton, so in the event of wetness, not all is lost. I prepare my gear so that I could immerse it in water.

4. I was forced to shave in the military when in the field. The reason is a better seal on your gas mask. You can do it with a little cup of water. I don't ever do it if I don't have to.

5. Do you "bathe" in streams, ponds, or lakes?

No. I swim in streams, ponds, lakes, and use babywipes and petroleum jelly afterwards.
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#84240 - 12/05/07 07:51 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
dkramalc Offline
member

Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 1070
Loc: California
1) I bring earplugs, also an eyeshade for those full-moon nights. I only use the earplugs if I'm having trouble falling asleep, but I don't worry about being "unsafe"; maybe if I camped in grizzly country I'd consider that, but elsewhere, no. I'm one of those who tends to be jolted into awakeness by a leaf blowing across the ground <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> , so earplugs are very helpful sometimes.

2) I use TP. I don't use baby wipes, seeing them as unecessary waste, but will sometimes use a squirt bottle, filled from a stream or lake just beforehand, and a drop of camp suds to get the hiney clean after the TP. But I can see how the wipes would be very convenient.

3) It luckily hasn't happened to me in any major way, but I imagine I'd either try to dry it out in camp with a fire or walk out if that would get me dry sooner than waiting out the rain and drying. Prevention is the best method - pack liner, packing sleeping bag in a separate garbage bag, etc.

4) Again, stream/lake water (carried away from the source in a pot) would likely be what he'd use. But seems like a lot of trouble!

5) I swim when possible. If it's too cold or not feasible to swim, I carry water in a pot a good distance away from the water source and wash up with bandana, camp suds, & squirt bottle. I may even wash my hair, which usually requires a couple of trips to the water source. I don't worry about being interrupted; I find a private place, and if somebody finds me, it's their tough luck! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

Hope this helps. With time, you will work out what's the best approach for you! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
dk

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#84241 - 12/05/07 09:20 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
Berserker Offline
member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 493
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
This is actually a good set of questions.

1. Depends on how comfortable you are and how paranoid you are. It took me a while to realize that I need an inflatable pad and a pillow to get a good nights sleep. If I try to do the UL thing and carry a 3/4" foam pad and use clothing for my pillow I don't get a good nights sleep. As for the paranoid thing, the woods are a different place to be in if you are used to living in a city. It took me several times to get used to the "noises of the night" before I could sleep comfortably through it.

2. Wet paper towel, and water with a squirt of hand sanitizer. When I go to take the Browns to the Superbowl (got that from Larry the Cableguy) I carry my toiletry bag (TP and paper towels), my trowel and a water bottle. Once the transaction is completed I wipe, and then use a paper towel or two wetted down with water from my water bottle to clean up. When I get back to camp I rinse my hands with water and use a squirt of hand sanitizer.

3. Good question. I usually don't stay out long enough to get that wet. If the weather sucks that bad I try to reschedule my trip. Typically though I have everything packed inside trash bags in my pack. The only thing that usually stays wet for multiple days of rain is my tent.

4. I just grow the beard.

5. I rinse off in water sources without soap just to get the sweat and other stuff off.

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#84242 - 12/05/07 10:40 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: finallyME]
frenchie Offline
member

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 461
Loc: Lyon, France
1: It's a personal thing...I may be more disturbed by silence than "weird" noise. But no earplugs. It takes some time to find the good set up of bag/pad/pillow, so I usually do not sleep very much the first night. Temperature is of course a very different matter, I try to be prepared.
I absolutly love to fall asleep listening to the wind or rain on the tent fly (not severe storm, though...)
2: Wet TP as much as possible.
3: Essential gear to be kept as much as possible. I've been fortunate enough never to have stuff soaked in my pack. Myself, yes. No fun. I had to stop quite a few times. Put up tent, get gear inside, strip, dry up a little bit, wriggle into sleeping bag or spare clothes, boil some water.
4: I'm a woman...
5: I try hard to wash every day. I have never camped in ultra dry places. My Platy usually becomes a half decent shower.

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#84243 - 12/05/07 11:21 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3569
Loc: Texas


Quote:
OK, let me preface this by saying I am a backpacker of little experience... a dayhiker for only a couple of seasons looking forward to expanding into multi-day hikes in the spring / summer. I am reading a bunch of hiking books and trying to plan intelligently, and there are a few issues such books deal with only briefly that concern me. Some topics, I guess, are almost taboo-- #2 below for example. Yes, the numbering is significant.

1. How hard is it to sleep on the trail? Obviously this is different for everyone, but does the cold or wet or noise keep a lot of people from sleeping well? Does anyone use earplugs at night? Obviously this would present a SAFETY issue... one might want to HEAR what is going on around you at night, BUT a few nights of poor sleep leading to exhaustion ALSO present a safety issue! What is your experience?

I sleep better in the boonies than indoors! Temp extreams (i'm in Texas) can keep me awake. Sleeping in 100 deg. is not fun. Not really bothered by noise. Wind/Rain noise is music, and I like hearing critters crunch about in the dark, especially the armadillos we have around here.

2. After eliminating bodily wastes, how do you get clean? I mean, if one is not showering daily, things could get really UNCOMFORTABLE down there... dare I use the word "itchy." Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about; toilet paper does not get one as clean as soap and water if you know what I mean. And your hands... what is the best way to really clean them after the business end is done?

This subject comes up monthly. I personally use water, soap and local veg. for this, trying not to haul paper around. Your milage may differ.

3. What happens when your gear gets wet? Say one is on a longer hike, walking for a couple of days in heavy rain, setting up camp, packing up, unfortunate little leaks in the tent or bag... I can imagine everything getting pretty much SOAKED. What do you do besides start to lose your mind or walk off the trail?

If my gear gets wet, I screwed up. I try to make sure this is a remote posibility....and my gear has never gotten wet yet. Boots/shoes, yes, but that's easy to deal with.

4. I met a throughhiker on the AT (in MA - Beartown State Park area) in August while I was on a dayhike. He was clean shaven! I know beards aren't mandatory, but I wondered if he shaved regularly and if so, what water he used. I didnt think to ask him... we chatted about the usual things.

I let it grow. Two reasons.....1) i love the look on wife and kiddo's faces when I return 2) why bother?

5. Do you "bathe" in streams, ponds, or lakes? Obviously, traditional soap is frowned upon because of its environmental aspect. What do you use? Do you worry about being interrupted while trying to get clean?

Nope....but I've been known to jump in for a swim, whenever possible, legal, and safe. Haul your lake/stream water to a responsible place to actually bathe using soap. Make yourself a silnylon water bag. For 'soap' I use Dr. Bronners...about as low impact as you can get.

I hope this doesn't all sound like trolling-- they are meant as serious questions, except maybe #4. I am sure the first three are concerns shared by others people when they are just starting out.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#84244 - 12/06/07 10:54 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
I use earplugs to drown out the snoring from other campers, bears I hear just fine! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />

Use baby wipes to clean your hands, then your botoom, then place in ziplock for trail's end disposal. Gets your hands sanitized and keeps your bum somewhat cleaner between bathings IME.

If you are careful you prevent your gear from getting wetted out in the first place. If it gets wetted out, stop for a day when it's sunny out and wring out everything that's wet. Next drap them over an impromptu clothesline or over small bushes and shrubs. The airflow under the items that are draped over bushes and shrubs is better than a clothes line IME. The items get greater surface exposure for air to pass and Sun to hit. Pack and hit the trail!

Note: if you are going to attempt to wash your wool socks while on the trail I advise you do this when off the trail in town at a laundry. You WILL need to dry them in a dryer or else they will be wet for days on the trail <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> I helped out a guy who had washed all his clothing on a trail one time; and had nothing but wet wool socks to hike in. I gave him a spare pair of dry ones from my pack and we met up in a town down the trail a few days later; where he graciuosly returned my socks <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />

Folks bathe and shave how they please on longer trips. Water sources are the same you'll use for cooking and drinking so be sure to do your bathing away from them. I suspect it's the folks who do so regularly at home that tend to be cleaner on the trail. I shave before I hit trail towns so as not to be too scruffy to go into a nice place if I so choose.

Again, bathing in any water bodies is frowned upon by those coming up behind you for their drinking water <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> Use a large contractor type garbage bag to 'shower' in. Fill with a few gallons of water in a sunny spot where you might like to camp for the night. In a few hours the water solar heats enough to step in in your b'day suit and wash up. I suspend the bag edges with clips from nearby bushes sometimes in order to have the bag up somewhat while my hands are free to wash. This also makes a decent washing machine on the trail IME <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

Lastly, you need to dress much warmer going to bed than you would at home for your first few nights out for comfort. You can always take off extra stuff, but you can't put on what you have'nt brought...now isn't this right Leadfoot <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#84245 - 12/06/07 04:50 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
2brnot2b Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/07
Posts: 22
Wow, I was worried these questions wouldn't be taken too seriously, but thankfully I have received only truly THOUGHTFUL replies and helpful advice. I have a plan now, and really appreciate everyone's comments.

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#84246 - 12/06/07 07:16 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
Personal cleanliness is an important consideration in a group situation. If you go solo, you can be as much a slob as you wish.

I bathe everyday, after hiking, by simply jumping in a water body, regardless how cold. I do this immediately after hiking. If I wait even 10 minutes I loose the motivation. This dipping gets the salty sweat off your body.

I wash my hair and do a soap bath once a week. This requires taking collapsable water bottles up away from the stream and sudsing and rinsing.

I use earplugs. As for hearing - I am convinced that there is little I can do if a bear comes anyway. Let him kiss me. I do not care. My S.O. snores so I wear earplugs sleeping ALL the time at home.

It takes a few days to get used to sleeping outdoors. If you are on a long trip, you will adjust just fine. I also found that if I sleep on a hard mattress at home I adjust outdoors better. When I slept on a warm soft waterbed, I had more trouble sleeping outdoors.

I like feeling clean and find that no matter how unpleasant the bath seems I ALWAYS feel better afterwards.

But then, I am a girl! We are a little more cleanliness oriented.

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#84247 - 12/06/07 07:29 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: wandering_daisy]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
Personal cleanliness is an important consideration in a group situation. If you go solo, you can be as much a slob as you wish.
.....
But then, I am a girl! We are a little more cleanliness oriented.


Dunno about that - I solo a lot and while I'd say sure, I *can* be a complete slob, it's uncomfortable and makes me rashy and itchy.. While I'm not a about to shave or worry about styling my hair, keeping private parts and pits washed off keeps the worst of the funk off, and keeps me from becoming miserable.

As for the second bit and jumping into water - yeah, you're a girl, and you're in California. I'm not, and 'm in Canada - So while I'll occasionally jump into water most places even in summer have water temperature that'll make my cojones hide somwhere in my inner ear within seconds of hitting the water, and it might not be all that warm when I climb out. So, I've mastered the art of the campsuds bath in a 3 cup AGG pot with a liner sock as a washcloth - warming it up only takes a half ounce of alcohol, and the liner sock dries out real quick.
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#84248 - 12/06/07 08:12 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: phat]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
Assumptions, assumptions! I perfected my dipping in Wyoming. Several times I have chopped off ice and jumped in. This summer I contiuned my dipping tradition-36 days in the Wind River Mountains - every day except two it rained!

But, I do admit, Sierra water is a bit warmer. You can actually swim in some lakes.

Actually, I am envious- I have climbed a bit in the Selkirks. I love Canada. I just cannot convince anyone from down here to go up there. My biggest feak-out about Canada is the grizzly bears. I would love to do the Rogers Pass traverse south to the Battle Range. The Adamants also are on my wish list. I have all the guidebooks and drool over them regularly.

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#84249 - 12/06/07 09:42 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: Earthling]
billk Offline
member

Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 1196
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Quote:
Note: if you are going to attempt to wash your wool socks while on the trail I advise you do this when off the trail in town at a laundry. You WILL need to dry them in a dryer or else they will be wet for days on the trail <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> I helped out a guy who had washed all his clothing on a trail one time; and had nothing but wet wool socks to hike in. I gave him a spare pair of dry ones from my pack and we met up in a town down the trail a few days later; where he graciuosly returned my socks <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />


That may be true in rainy or extremely humid weather, but I've often washed wool socks, including thick "rag" wool. As long as the weather's nice, they dry quickly hanging on a line, bush, or tied on the pack. Must be a regional thing <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Quote:
Again, bathing in any water bodies is frowned upon by those coming up behind you for their drinking water <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> Use a large contractor type garbage bag to 'shower' in. Fill with a few gallons of water in a sunny spot where you might like to camp for the night. In a few hours the water solar heats enough to step in in your b'day suit and wash up. I suspend the bag edges with clips from nearby bushes sometimes in order to have the bag up somewhat while my hands are free to wash. This also makes a decent washing machine on the trail IME <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />


That's a pretty good idea. What kind of clips to you suspend it with?

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#84250 - 12/07/07 06:56 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: billk]
bulrush Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/07
Posts: 132
Loc: Michigan
Re: getting wet
First, try not to get wet. Cover your pack in a garbage bag, cut slits for the straps if necessary. Inside the pack put your clothese in ziplock freezer bags or "space bags". The space bags are thick plastic and have a one-way valve to squeeze air out. They work great for compressing stuff, it still weighs the same though. They also sell waterproof bags for rafting, but those are expensive ($30-50 each).

Re: bathing
I have used sand to scrub my skin before. I put it in my hair also when I forgot my shampoo at camp once, and scrubbed and rinsed well. Basically you just need an abrasive to remove dead skin cells and oils. Sand worked surprisingly well.

The indians put mud caked onto their hair, let it dry and sit for a day or 2, then broke the mud shell off and touseled their hair (no water needed). The mud absorbs oils and dead skin cells stick to it. Yes, the mud might be stinky when wet, but after you remove it it should not be much of a problem. This is probably where "facial mud packs" came from.

Re: human waste
The boy scout book says dig a hole 8 inches deep, put waste and TP in there, and cover, then push a stick in the soil to mark the spot so no one else digs there. From experience, animals will dig 8 inches easily, so I suggest using a 12-14 inch deep hole.

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#84251 - 12/07/07 09:09 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: bulrush]
Xelif Offline
member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 241
Loc: Bay Area, California, USA
I'm definitely not trying to start a debate here, but usual practice (I'd understood at least) is a 6 inch hole for waste. I'd say a 12 inch hole would drop you down below the soil line in most areas, making it that much harder for decomposition. I've seen most people use 6, and a few recommend 12". I think a true 12" hole would be a royal pain to dig without dynamite, in most of the 'soil' I hike on.
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#84252 - 12/07/07 10:26 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: Xelif]
Bearpaw Offline
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Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
True, 12-14 inches in tghe great majority puts you in mineral soil, where it is counterproductive to put it. Organic soil is the preferred medium, where the feces contributes to the growth cycle in the area. In the great majority of the places I hike, a 6-inch hole takes effort due to all the rocks.
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#84253 - 12/07/07 12:14 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: Bearpaw]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
What....you are suppose to dig a hole. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
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#84254 - 12/07/07 12:17 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
gmagnes Offline
Moderator

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 562
Loc: Upstate New York
1. How hard is it to sleep on the trail? Obviously this is different for everyone, but does the cold or wet or noise keep a lot of people from sleeping well? Does anyone use earplugs at night? Obviously this would present a SAFETY issue... one might want to HEAR what is going on around you at night, BUT a few nights of poor sleep leading to exhaustion ALSO present a safety issue! What is your experience?

Don't use ear plugs. Biggest issue for me has been experimenting over the years to find a comfortable setup. At this point, I am pretty comfortable and sleep almost as well as in my own bed at home--small pillow with clothes bag or something else under it to raise level to simulate two pillows I use at home, Big Agnes insulated air core air mattress, good bag (montbell super stretch is my bag of choice lately) and make sure tent or shelter is keeping you dry and sheltered from the mosquitoes and noseeum's.

2. After eliminating bodily wastes, how do you get clean? I mean, if one is not showering daily, things could get really UNCOMFORTABLE down there... dare I use the word "itchy." Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about; toilet paper does not get one as clean as soap and water if you know what I mean. And your hands... what is the best way to really clean them after the business end is done?

I do one thing that most others didn't seem to mention. I bring toilet paper and also a small tube of moisturizing lotion. A dab on the tp once I'm almost finished enables me to get further down and therefore more clean and also leaves a comfortable residue of the lotion. I also clean my hands with sanitizing lotion at the end of the process.

3. What happens when your gear gets wet? Say one is on a longer hike, walking for a couple of days in heavy rain, setting up camp, packing up, unfortunate little leaks in the tent or bag... I can imagine everything getting pretty much SOAKED. What do you do besides start to lose your mind or walk off the trail?
Not necessarily ultra lite, but I generally keep one change of pants, underwear and socks that I try to keep dry and switch to in camp or at night if I'm really wet and cold. In addition, as most here would be, I'm wearing synthetics that dry pretty quickly from the heat of your body if you're not out in the rain, so once I'm in camp, my pants, t shirt etc will dry over a couple of hours, depending on the air temp. Occasionally on long paddling trips, we've taken a layover day to dry out and dry clothes next to the fire or hung out in the sun if the weather cooperates.

4. I met a throughhiker on the AT (in MA - Beartown State Park area) in August while I was on a dayhike. He was clean shaven! I know beards aren't mandatory, but I wondered if he shaved regularly and if so, what water he used. I didnt think to ask him... we chatted about the usual things.

I normally wear a beard and don't bother to shave the small areas that I do trim when at home.

5. Do you "bathe" in streams, ponds, or lakes? Obviously, traditional soap is frowned upon because of its environmental aspect. What do you use? Do you worry about being interrupted while trying to get clean?

If weather is warm enough, then I like to swim. If too cold, then a hand bath with a wet bandanna can work. If feet have gotten very dirty and/or sweaty, then I'll rinse them in whatever body of water is nearby, dry them off in the sun or with a small camp towel, and then put shoes and socks back on. I generally only use soap on my hands when they get dirty and wash and rinse away from any body of water. I tend to use mainly water to clean the rest of me, and generally feel I can get pretty clean and comfortable.
May switch from dirty/wet pair of socks to clean, dry pair while in camp and will also wash one pair of socks on a long trip just by rinsing in water and squeezing out and drying. Will also sometimes try to dry socks and underpants inside my sleeping bag at night.

Gerry Magnes
Schenectady, NY

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#84255 - 12/07/07 12:20 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Be pretty clear about your body functions. One time I told a group I was going around the other side of the hill to check the view. I was about to have a bowel movement when two of my group came around the hill to "see the view" also.

Tell people what you are doing if you do not want company.


Edited by food (12/07/07 12:21 PM)

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#84256 - 12/07/07 01:46 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: phat]
BarryP Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
“…then once leaving privy, a dab of alcohol gel (if carried) or a little touch of alcohol stove fuel.”

I don’t know about alcohol stove fuel. Methanol is pretty harsh on the body.

-Barry

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#84257 - 12/07/07 01:57 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: BarryP]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Reminds me of an experience my squad leader had in our first week in Iraq. Him, and three other trucks were driving around in the desert. At a fuel stop, he accidentally splashed JP-8 all over him, drenching his uniform. When they got on the road, the clothes started to burn, so he stripped down to nothing inside the truck while driving. I guess some fuel got on his seat, because his very sensitive areas (yes, THOSE very sensitive areas) started to burn a lot. He kept asking his co-driver for some lotion or something to put on his skin. His co-driver repeatedly told him that he had nothing. Finally, he conceded and squirted something in the drivers hand, which he applied, and screamed VERY loadly. The co-driver had squirted hand sanitizer into the drivers hand. Man, that must have hurt. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />
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#84258 - 12/07/07 03:21 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: billk]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
That's a pretty good idea. What kind of clips to you suspend it with?

I use 3-4 of the cheapest clips you can buy like the Coghlans 'clothes clips' that come in 8 packs. they're plastic coated wire and can open to close around a 1" branch with the bag <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

Old timey wooden stick clothespins would work too in lighter brush I suspect, though those pins are hard to find <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
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#84259 - 12/07/07 05:14 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
Serac Offline
member

Registered: 09/04/02
Posts: 101
Loc: Washington State
Excellent questions! Funny how you just take things for granted after doing them for so long.

1) Sleeping can be tough, especially the first couple of nights. Usually, by the third night I am sleeping fine. I find that I sleep best by washing up prior to bed (just a sponge bath) and wearing clean clothes. Have not used ear plugs, but I do carry them just in case. A good pillow and pad make all the difference when you are on the ground. I have been trying hammock camping, and must say that that is by far the best sleeping I have done in the backcountry. Slept like a log first night out.

2) I have found that TP never gets me clean enough. I now use a portable bidet that is really just an old campsuds bottle. It holds just enough water to allow me to rinse and use my left hand to scrub things out (bit of a yuck factor the first few times, but you get over it). Then I wash up with more water and antiseptic soap afterwards. I also pay lots of attention to keeping things clean back there during my sponge baths.

3) I, like others, line my pack with garbage bags which has never failed me keeping stuff in there dry. I also use an umbrella which looks goofy to some, but works amazingly better than a parka or even poncho. For rainy, windy days I use Frogg Toggs, which to my experience are just the best light raingear you can have. I have even had wet clothes dry out under them while I hike. If you stick with mostly synthetics during the day while hiking in the wet and protect your down bag in plastic for nights, it's not bad.

4) I don't shave on the trail. Do that at home or town days.

5) Swim, you bet! But no baths in the water. I take the cut off bottom third of a gallon milk jug and use it for a wash basin for nightly sponge baths, or as a bucket for washing and rinse offs well away from the water source. I use bottomless shelters pretty exclusively now (Megamid, Silshelter or just a tarp) so I can setup a "bath house" by just removing my ground sheet and doing my cleaning in there if need be. On a warm day the ground will dry quickly or just throw your ground sheet back down.
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#84260 - 12/08/07 09:25 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: BarryP]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
“…then once leaving privy, a dab of alcohol gel (if carried) or a little touch of alcohol stove fuel.”

I don’t know about alcohol stove fuel. Methanol is pretty harsh on the body.

-Barry


I doubt it's too bad in small doses for skin contact. I wouldn't take a bath in it or drink it.

OTOH about half the time I'm fuelling my stove on everclear so it's "dual use" It's also pretty harsh on
the body, but dribbling a bit on hands isn't the issue <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
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#84261 - 12/08/07 10:08 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: finallyME]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
oowwww................. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />
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#84262 - 12/08/07 12:49 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
mockturtle Offline
member

Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 251
Loc: WA
Wow! Looks like everybody's weighing in on this one!
1. I do camp in grizzly country and the first night out I almost always have trouble sleeping. Combination of nerves and excitement. After that, I sleep very well.
2. Unscented baby wipes.
3. I don't usually let things get wet. My kayak camping experience has taught me how to keep things dry. I keep my clothes in a dry bag, sleeping bag in two layers--nylon and heavy-duty compacter trash bag. Camping over on the other side of our state [the wet side], if something gets wet it will never dry out. At least, not without a fire. And because it's seldom very warm--even in summer--hypothermia is a big danger. So--keep things dry!
4. As a woman, I don't shave my face <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> and don't feel compelled to shave my legs and underarms on a hiking trip. And if I were of the male gender, I definitely wouldn't shave unless I had some kind of skin condition that required it. Beards are cool!
5. Only if it's warm [the air, not the water]. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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#84263 - 01/02/08 07:23 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
Spock Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 679
Loc: Central Texas
Quote:
1. How hard is it to sleep on the trail?

You are right about the ear plugs; they reduce your awareness. Get used to the woods noises; learn what is dangerous and what is not; listen to the screech owls and other critters; enjoy it. And learn that the stealthy thing creeping slowly toward you is really just beetles going about their business in the leaves. You may have a few creepy nights until you learn that the sounds that are natural for the area are not a butcher knife wielding psycho or a hungry panther. Learning to sleep securely after taking a sound inventory is just part of camping in the wild.

Quote:
2. After eliminating bodily wastes, how do you get clean?

Wash. A Platypus cap with 4 holes melted in the top with a hot needle makes a dandy backwoods bidet. In any case, soap and water beats toilet paper and solves the problem completely. While you are at it, spot bathing works for feet, hands and faces as well. Spot baths are sometimes referred to, indelicately, as whore's baths.

Quote:
3. What happens when your gear gets wet?

You die... No, really, First, don't let it get wet. Bag your sleeping bag and a change of clothing kept sacrosanct for wearing in camp, sleeping and, otherwise, only for dire emergencies. It is easier to keep gear dry than you might imagine. A simple plastic bag inside a stuff sack is usually good for full emersion.

Quote:
4. Shaving?

Disposable razors, Dr. Bonners and a little water are relatively light if you insist on being clean shaven instead of looking like a rugged backpacker. Wimp.

Quote:
5. Do you "bathe" in streams, ponds, or lakes?

Swim - don't bathe with soap in any body of water; it kills important things. Keep soap at least 200 feet from any body of water. Skinny dipping is up to you. Some don't worry about it; others fret. Hike your own hike.

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#84264 - 01/02/08 08:35 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
MattnID Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/07
Posts: 317
Loc: Idaho
1) I don't find it very hard to get to sleep when backpacking. I usually get to sleep faster but wake up more often while out there. I never really don't get enough sleep, my body goes into outdoors mode and I always seem to be able to feel more awake with less sleep as well as feel less hungry. I'm sure if the noises bother you (which I don't really know how much more noisier it is in the middle of nowhere compared to back home) you could wear ear plugs. It just depends on how comfortable you are having decreased hearing.


2) On this issue, I usually go out and buy some scentless, bio-degradable wet wipes. That alone is usually good enough to get the job done and eliminate any potential problems a few days in. You don't have to use them everytime you happen to go, but they'll get the job done. The ones I buy usually double as body wipes too if any other areas seem to be uncomfortable from being dirty for whatever reason.

3) I've never had the problem of the inside of my tent being overly wet or my bag either. Whe it comes to the sleeping bag, my own suggestion would be to wear more clothing if it makes you cold at night and/or hope your body heat can dry it up. I really don't have any experience with that. As for clothes, socks and stuff like that. I usually dry anything that got wet from rain or river crossings at night in my sleeping bag by putting them next to my body.

4) I would assume he used whatever water he happen to come across or have before/after he refilled. Or, I've done this before myself, he may have dry shaved. Not always comfortable, but it'll get the job done if need be. I usually just let me face go though, lol.

5) I don't usually bathe unless I'm just that dirty(covered in mud or something) or I've just been out that long. Like I said in #1, I usually just use body wipes. Rarely have I gone into a body of water for a swim and never have I used soap if in that water. The only places to really be concerned about cleaning in my opinion are the groin area, armpits, around my eyes, mouth and nose, feet and I usually bring hand sanitizer along for the hands. Pretty much anyplace that would rub and get irritated or any place where germs have easy access my inside, hehe.

Hope this helps.
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In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.-Aristotle

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#84265 - 01/18/08 09:09 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: billk]
Kate Offline
member

Registered: 01/14/08
Posts: 45
Loc: On top of the North Downs, UK
Friends who camp regularly have these: http://www.outdoorgear.co.uk/eshop.asp?wci=product&wce=53902001&CameFrom=png
Even on a dull damp day in England they warmed up enough for a decent shower & hair wash for a medium sized lass with long hair. On the HOT day, they were warm enough in a hour.
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#84266 - 01/18/08 11:10 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: Kate]
layla17 Offline
member

Registered: 01/14/08
Posts: 22
I've been looking for the portable showers for a long time. I had one before, but it didn't heat up, so I was constantly taking cold showers. The solar power is a pretty cool feature.
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#84267 - 01/18/08 11:27 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: 2brnot2b]
NiytOwl Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/04
Posts: 501
Loc: California
Sleeping - I sleep very well on the trail when I go solo. I have had bad nights in group settings where someone is a snorer or has serious body odor issues. Once I was shacked up in a tent with a guy who had too much to drink. I woke up when his pee started soaking into my sleeping bag. (What? A leak? Doesn't sound like rain...) I even had one experience where two of my friends decided to have a fling in the neighboring tent, complete with sound effects loud enough to quiet the crickets. And people ask me why I hike solo!

Is there some tongue-in-cheek reason that you made the topic of pooping #2? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Last year I went hiking with an Indian friend. The morning after our first night on the trail he excused himself from camp, grabbed a cup of water and wandered off. (Do you see where this is going?)

For half of the world's population, toilet paper is a western barbarism (can you say unclean?). They wash their bums when they go. It's just a matter of a few handfuls of water. No bidet required. This is why in India it is frowned upon to use your left hand to offer anything to another person or to eat with - the left is traditionally used for sanitary duties. I tried it on my last outing - it works and no, your hand doesn't stink when you're done and you don't get monkeybutt. A little soap and water afterward takes care of any sanitary concerns. My pack is now 2.5 ounces lighter because I don't carry TP or wipes. Extra bonus: I don't have to pack out TP. Now THAT's gross!

Wet Gear - As most have said, don't get it wet. If it does get wet, either bail on the trip or be prepared for a cold night next to a hot fire. Personal Story: On a canoing trip my canoe was holed by a submerged branch. As it sank we cut the lashings on our gear and started tossing it on the shore. Unfortunately, my sleeping bag rolled back down the bank into the river and began an epic journey that I don't have time or space to tell you about at the moment. Now we could have done the three-guys-huddled-under-two-sleeping-bags thing, but machismo won out. That night I made TWO fires and slept between them. I still didn't sleep well because the fires had to be stoked every couple of hours, but I made it through the night so we could paddle out the next day.

On Shaving - Some don't need water. There were guys in the Navy who would dry-shave on inspection days. I guess someone could also use a travel electric razor - they weigh about 2-3-oz without the batteries.

Bathing - Nope. I take showers if I must be clean. A solar shower is pretty darn light, and for a few ounces it doubles as an untreated water carrier/dispenser. I was doubtful the first time I used one, but it sure beats a cookpot bath. The only drawbacks are that you need a sunny day to get the water hot and a place to hang the bag.

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#84268 - 01/18/08 08:02 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: NiytOwl]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Or Nity you could fill the sunshower with the warm cook pot water as I do and have a nice warm shower on a cloudy day.....'least that's what we do on my planet <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
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#84269 - 01/19/08 01:10 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: Earthling]
NiytOwl Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/04
Posts: 501
Loc: California
Quote:
Or Nity you could fill the sunshower with the warm cook pot water as I do and have a nice warm shower on a cloudy day.....'least that's what we do on my planet


Well, I hope you'd fill it with warm liquid from your cook pot! Don't want to think of any other warm liquid you could fill it with <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

Maybe those who skinnydip for their baths could take a tip from the Romans. They didn't use soap - they used oil and wooden scrapers. I think a plastic scraper from Home Depot might do the trick.

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#84270 - 01/19/08 01:17 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: NiytOwl]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
[
Maybe those who skinnydip for their baths could take a tip from the Romans. They didn't use soap - they used oil and wooden scrapers. I think a plastic scraper from Home Depot might do the trick.


Carry a scraper for that? forget it - Anytime I do this it's either a handful of sphagnum moss, or just a liner sock. liner socks make great washcloths and dry out quick after.
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#84271 - 01/20/08 08:58 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: phat]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
My 3 foster kittens have run off with at least one of each of my liner sock pairs <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/ooo.gif" alt="" /> So I have plenty of new washcloths now Phat <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
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#84272 - 01/20/08 10:05 AM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: Earthling]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
My 3 foster kittens have run off with at least one of each of my liner sock pairs <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/ooo.gif" alt="" /> So I have plenty of new washcloths now Phat <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />


I dunno about using kittens for that purpose Earthling - not only are they murder on compression sacks, but the 5 sharp ends make them a suboptimal washcloth.

I'll stick with the socks <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
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#84273 - 01/21/08 04:26 PM Re: Bodily Functions / Discussion Taboos [Re: phat]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
<img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />No Phat, i meant using the sock leftovers not the actual kittens, though they are sooooooo soft <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
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