Confessions of a travel blogger,  Sunday social travel talk,  We12hike

Confessions of a hiking travel blogger

Soooo … since May is hiking month I couldn’t resist the opportunity to do a “Confessions of a Hiking Travelblogger”. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about those. A lot. When cycling to work, while driving to Germany, while weightlifting at the gym and even while brushing my teeth in the shower (yes, I’m one of those persons who brushes her teeth in the shower… you would actually be amazed how many great ideas I have when I’m in the shower … shame you can’t take a pen and paper with you).

Before you continue reading I’d like to warn you. If you are easily grossed out or if you are queasy in any way, maybe you should reconsider reading this.

 

I wear my underpants more than one day

“Everything you pack, you must carry up that mountain on your back” is what I learned the hard way. On my first couple of treks I used to take a clean pair of underpants and a clean t-shirt for each day. Believe me, those days are long gone. Nowadays I usually bring 1 pair of underpants for 2 days and 1 t-shirt for the whole trek (unless it’s longer than 4 days, then I’ll bring 2). Disgusting? Sure, if you really think about it. However in most mountainhuts there is no possibility to shower anyway so you may as well just step completely out of your comfort zone and forget about hygiene. Luckily I found some really convenient wetwipes to clean myself and when I wear my underpants the other way around the next day I can’t say that I feel disgusting. That’s just how things work in the mountains. At least, for me… (I recently found an article about cleaning your V on trekkings which you may find handy to read…)

 

Hiking pants make my bum look fat

I know I’m not alone here when I say that hiking pants are the most unflattering pieces of clothing I’ve ever come across. Not only  most of them are plain ugly, they make me look utterly fat, especially my bum. I know I’m not the thinnest person in the world and generally I don’t care, however sometimes I just hate to see myself in pictures where I’m wearing hiking pants and I look too fat in my opinion. All pictures I post online go through a thorough selection: fat bum = ctrl+alt+del. If anyone ever finds a preferrably water-resistant hiking pants that don’t make your bum look fat, please give me a shout out! I’d love to spend a fortune on it…

 

Camping in bear-country still scares the shit out of me

Even though I’ve camped in bear country quite a lot over the past couple of years, it still scares me. While by now I’m used to hiking in bear country, camping is another piece of cake. Ever since we got a bear on our campsite in Alaska long ago (nothing spectacular, I was woken up by someone who told me they’d spotted a bear and they were chasing it with their guns … never saw the bear though) it made me realize that camping with bears is serious business. On a more recent USA roadtrip we went backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain NP and even though we took all necessary precautions such as carrying a heavy bear-proof bin and cooking far away from our tent, I still felt uneasy during the night. Each time I heard something in the bush, my heart stared racing like crazy and I thought that would be the end of us. It was probably just a squirrel though…(And those who wonder, we are from The Netherlands, no bears or anything like that here, just some wild boars!

 
bear-warning
 

I hate saying Hello to the French when hiking

OK French people, shoot me now or skip this part! But the one thing you could do when hiking in a foreign country is say : “Hello” or “Guten Tag” or “Hola” or whatever greeting is used in the country you are hiking in. Whenever I go hiking somewhere I don’t know the language of (which is, when I look back at it, not very often anymore) I try to learn a few basics, one of them is greeting other people when on the track. Somehow, the French are just too stubborn and think that everyone in the whole world will greet them with “Bonjour”. Well I’m sorry but I won’t do it, when hiking anywhere else than France and hearing a “Bonjour” I get pissed off. I won’t show it to the particular person (I’m too nice for that) but it annoys the shit out of me.

 

I love mountain hut food

I’m not very picky when it comes to food, especially when I’m hungry. There for I’m sure that mountain hut cooks will love me because I eat everything they serve. Well, almost anything. Not because you have no other choice (I always carry some spare food “just in case…”) but I generally like the high number of carbs, fat and sugars in it. Such as Spätzle, which is an Alpine kind of egg noodle that drops into your stomach like a stone after eating it and makes you sick for the rest of the night, pretty much. When on the Berliner Höhenweg in Austria, we got cheese Spätzle one night and I ate mine and everyone else’s leftover before starting to feel nauseous. The next night we had a choice of two and while everyone chose the meat and potatoes, I chose the Spätzle again. Everyone at our table was looking at me like I was crazy but I really enjoyed it a lot, again. And felt sick afterwards *again*. At least now I know where the fat bum I mentioned earlier comes from…

 

I hate GPS devices and other electrical navigation stuff

Will you believe me when I tell you that we’ve had a Garmin for at least 10 years and I still have no clue on how to use it? Usually Martijn takes care of it and I just look at the map and find my directions there. GPSes only make me stressed out about how many / little kms we have done or how much further we have to climb. I should totally learn how to navigate with it though, since I plan on going on the Pacific Crest Trail by myself next year (if all goes as planned that is…). Now that I’m re-reading this, it’s actually pretty strange that a gadget-geek like me doesn’t like GPSes. OK, the gadget basically means iPhone, but still…

 

mapping-in-scotland
Eating and mapping, so typically me on the trail
 

I’ve pissed on my pants (and am still alive)

Many of my friends are scared of squat peeing out in the open and always ask me “how do you do that?” Well, it’s pretty easy however I have to confess that on a bad day, I still manage to piss on my pants. For whatever reason, a wind that blows into the wrong direction for example. Sure, stepping out of the bush with wet pants is kind of embarrassing but recently I learned, while having a conversation with some fellow female hikers, that I’m definitely not the only one. Sometimes I just wish I were a guy, it would make peeing so much easier…

 

My feet look totally ruined

I’m not a fan of wearing sandals and/or flip flops in the summer, because they show off how ugly my feet are. I’m not sure it has to do with all the hiking I do but it sure contributes to it. My nails look like hell (to hide that I usually paint them black) and there are scars and blisters and such all over. My feet are super sensitive and nobody can ever touch them, not even a doctor or Martijn. I used to go to a pedicure to treat my feet (for me it’s hell having someone touch my feet for an hour) but it cost a fortune so I gave up on that. It’s only ugly looking feet after all…

 

I don’t always dig a hole when pooping…

Maybe one of the most painful ones, especially since I just finished reading “How to Shit in the Woods” which I found a horrible read by the way. Peeing in the bush is easy, but pooping in the bush is a totally different story. While pee just dries and nobody will ever notice you did your thing where they are having their lunch, poop takes forever to go away, so finding the right spot is essential. But when there, it’s just not always possible to dig a hole and bury your waste. Sorry fellow hikers, but carrying a shovel is just not something I do, for that weight I’d rather take another pair of underpants. Or two.

 

I buy new outdoor gear just because I love shopping

… And not because I need it. Like many other females, I like to splurge on clothes every now and then. Even though I don’t really have an expensive taste in general, outdoor gear has to be good. And that usually means it’s expensive, but it also means that it will last forever. Or almost. However, you can’t really to expect me to wear the same outdoor jacket on all of my 15 trips each year and look the same in every picture for 10 years in a row, right? So I’ve gathered quite a big stack of outdoor gear over the past years. For example, I own 2 down jackets, 2 rain jackets, 2 soft shells, at least 5 fleece sweaters, 3 fleece hoodies, 15 different color hiking shirts and the list goes on … I’m already looking forward to my trip to Iceland next month because then I can finally buy myself something from Cintamani, a brand I’ve looked up online and love every bit and piece of. If only 66° North would be a bit cheaper, too…

 
hiking
 

I’m always hungy at 10 o’clock

This last confession was one that Martijn came up with, which proves that it must be really serious for him to mention it while I was thinking about items for this post. And yes I have to say, he’s right. No matter where I am or how much I eat, I’m always hungry at 10.00 am. ALWAYS! While he can go forever on one of our self-made oatmeal breakfasts, my body just needs food at 10.00 am. So each time we’re hiking, I’m sure to bring some extra food for that 10.00 am moment…

 

In all honesty, there are at least 10 more things I could have mentioned here but as I’m getting near 2.000 words here and I have probably lost you half way down this blog already, I’ll end here for today. I hope that by talking about peeing and pooping and that sort of shit I didn’t scare you too much, however you can’t say I didn’t warn you at the beginning.

 

Now it’s time for your to be honest … what is you hiking confession? I don’t believe you when you say you don’t have any! If you liked this article, I’m sure you will like my previous confessions too.

 
May is hiking month on we12travel. During this month we’ll share our passion for walking/hiking with you.
Some of the previous posts include:
– The best (half) day hikes in the United States and Canada
– The best destinations for newbie hikers
– Hiking in the Harz: climbing Brocken
 
Thank you for sharing!
 

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Anto is a 30-something outdoor fan who travels the world about 100 days a year, combined with a full-time office job. She loves to go hiking, enjoys a good class of wine and can usually be found with an iPhone in her hand. Favorite destinations: New Zealand, Patagonia, Austria and Alaska.

28 Comments

  • Sophie

    Ik denk dat als de Fransen echt zo arrogant waren, dat ze dan überhaupt geen ‘Bonjour’ zeggen, maar gewoon stug doorlopen. Het gaat een beetje ver om hen meteen als arrogant te bestempelen, vind je niet?

  • Jill

    Nice read. I’ve lived in bear country (Canada) all my life, and I still don’t like sleeping in a tent in bear country, so you’re definitely not alone with that fear. I wear Prana monarch convertible pants (the ones with the zip off legs), they’re one of the only pants I’ve found that make bums look good!

    • anto

      Thanks Jill, kind of happy to hear that people from Canada can still be afraid (ish) of bears … even though you live with them.

  • Wilco

    Nice blog…..i don’t nearly travel as much as you two but here is my top 3 confessions.
    1) Whenever i use long distance public transportation i scan the line for infants and if I spot a large amount of them my mood drops. Don’t get me wrong i don’t hate kids but few things are more annoying than a good read getting constantly interrupted by crying or nagging kids.
    2) A fear that the undigested end product of my digestive system is too large to fit through the pipes. It clogged up a toilet twice so i avoid doing a no.2 on planes, trains or ships unless i can hang out the window and do it that way wink emoticon (….and yes that one is off the bucket list)
    3) I have a dislike for Italians because despite the fact that you just explained to them that you don’t speak the language…”mi non parlano italiano” and therefore don’t understand what the hell the are saying, they keep yapping away at you in Italian like you and you alone just killed their mother or are about to start World War III. If you really want to spice things up do a “Family Guy” on them and start “scuzi, bappidi poopi?” back at them. ……So Itallians please either learn English or take a chill pill while on vacation cause making a lot of noise might work in Italy but it won’t help you get your point across when dealing with foreigners!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JhuOicPFZY

    • anto

      OMG Wilco you are so hilarious. Next time I see you I’ll just can’t keep my mind of that number 1. See you soon in Arnhem!

  • Monika

    I like your writing – honest and funny at the same time! As per map – I am absolutely rubbish in reading it unfortunately, but since we are starting our sailing course/training in two weeks time, I think I will have to improve my navigation skills! I do not remember when was the last time we went hiking – probably when we visited Scotland few years back! But I used to do it a lot with a bunch of friends and it was absolutely fantastic! We did a lot of hiking in Slovenia – I think it was the best adventure ever! Thanks for reminding me that I really need to organize hiking holidays quite soon!

    • anto

      Thanks Monika! I’ve grown better at reading maps but am still no pro, so always happy to have a GPS and someone who can read it, around with me. Have fun on our sailing course!

  • kami

    I hear you with the underpants. I don’t hike as much as you do but it happens to me when I travel as well, when I take overnight journeys or spend nights at the airports. And that’s fine, I’m used to that by now and don’t mind all that much 😉 it’s just the part of travels 🙂

  • Michelle

    I can relate all to well to almost all of these. The only pants I’ve found that don’t make my butt look fat are the Prana Halle. I just wish they would make a skinny leg version.

  • Sammi Wanderlustin'

    I so totally love 66 North, I wish I could get their clothing here. My favourite polar pants are by them, they’re all fleecy on the inside and it took forever before I even felt the cold in them. Definitely worth every splurgy penny I spent on them.

    I totally wandered about the pooping part, that would weird me out for sure. And, for all my light packing over the years, clean underwear is a must for me. I need 8 million pairs of knickers wherever I go. I cannot, I just cannot go without them. As Kami said, its one thing for an overnight travel, but I think walking and sweating, and…. I’m very protective of my.. “area”. I need the underwear. Haha, I can’t believe I’ve just ranted about needing it.

    • anto

      Thanks Liz! Which thru hike will you do? I’m definitely going to check out your site over the weekend when I have some time for further reading!

  • Liz

    Hi Anto! I’m planning to do the Te Araroa in New Zealand and some additional hikes. I’ve already read most of your new zealand stories for inspiritation! It looks like an encredible diverse and beautiful country, looking forward to it! My blog is still in its infancy 😉 but I’m working on it to write more, hope you’ll like it! Cool to know that they’re more Dutchies into the outdoors 🙂

    • anto

      Thanks Liz and so cool! I’m hoping to do it someday, too. New Zealand is awesome and I’m sure you’ll love it. Did you already check our new site outdoorbloggers.nl where we have gathered some of the best Dutch outdoor blogs? Cheers, Anto

  • Liz

    I cannot imagine that New Zealand will ever disappoint me, I’ve read so many great stories and seen so many amazing pictures… When I was in Iceland last year, I heard that it shares quite some similaries with New Zealand, so that’s also promising 🙂 I’ve definitely checked out the new site, good to see other Dutch outdoor bloggers. Hopefully more will follow!

  • marijka

    Great read, so glad to have found your blog! If you can get them there, I highly recommend Ex Officio underwear for both women and men. You can rinse them out, squeeze and hang on a tent loop and they’re dry in an hour or two! I just make it part of my nightly ritual. And they last for years, so worth the price in my opinion. Okay, off to snoop through the rest of your site… 🙂

  • Putt-Putt

    Have to disagree with not bringing a trowel to bury your waste. I’ve seen the results of people who don’t bury their waste and it is disgusting. A plastic trowel is really not that heavy. I completed the AT in 2015 and carried 3 underwear and 3 socks. For me the extra weight was worth the comfort, for some they only had one pair.

    • anto

      Here in Europe, nobody does that, unfortunately. It’s just not common here … we bury our waste but it seems like over here, people care less and less about nature these days, which is a real shame!

  • Geri

    I agree with you that in Europe it is not common for wilderness hikers to carry a trowel. But still I think that most hikers are very considerate when going to toilet in the great outdoors. We are usually teaching a few basic rules to follow. Firstly, stay well away from water sources and running water. Secondly, find a spot well away from the trail/tent, where people most probably will not go for any other purpose! (Occasionally, but not that often, you then can find signs of other having been there for the same purpose before, but, well, so what?) Thirdly, when somebody in the group is walking away alone, do not follow. She or he wants privacy. Remember that there is no door to lock, and it is not that funny to walk in on a friend in just that moment (not to say to be walked in on by a friend!) When that said, fourthly, get away with the embarrassment. When staying out there for several days, we all have to do it. Youths and seniors, women and men, no difference. Sooner or later everyone will be caught by the urge. Mostly it is not a topic for small talk, but usually toilet issues are not so at home/work either? Perhaps I should add a fifth point. (Avid hikers can tell more.) There is a chance for accidentally walking in on others or being walked in on. What then? Just a prudent smile and an excuse from both, and then it may shortly be forgotten! I have experienced that I sometimes have to remind myself that we all do it during our ordinary days, so why should it be regarded a problem when hiking? Perhaps a bit more challenging, but are we not searching for challenges when out there? Maintaining normal bowel motions is an important factor for staying well when hiking. Sometimes (or perhaps often) it is depending upon our skills and attitudes related to (yes, I will be explicit) find sufficient shelter, pull shorts down, expose the bum to the world (not the world: but to the nature!) and get it done. Thanks, Anto, for making it a bit more uncomplicated than we can read in some books and websites.

    • anto

      You’re welcome Geri and THANK YOU for your reply. I always love hearing from fellow hikers. It’s true, in Europe we don’t carry trowels at all, at least not those I ran into while hiking. And yes, it’s always a bit of a thing running into someone who is ‘busy’ but then again, what is the problem? I was in Nepal a year ago and found myself with stomach issues for 7 days in a row, so I had to go behind every rock and/or tree we came across. At first it’s embarrassing but in the end, you don’t really know otherwise anymore. It’s just something that needs to happen. On these kind of treks, there is more respect to this rather than just going out into the woods here. Happy hiking!!!

  • Geri

    Your posting came to my mind again a few days ago. I am just now about to finish an over five-week long bike ride in Norway and Sweden. Almost all nights spent in a tent somewhere in the wilderness. (Just a few nights in hostels etc. to “dry up”.) Consequently toilet visits (#1 as well as #2) have had to be done somewhere in nature. Still I do not carry a trowel, and my unformal “field study” during these weeks confirms that it neither should be necessary. During my bike ride I have up to now tented at 24 different (non-formal camping) sites for one or more nights. I guess most of them not among the most popular sites in Scandinavia, but most of them have had other campers staying there too. All sites have been unpolluted I will say. No problem to find a nice spot where to raise the tent and to make the food and take a bath. But certainly when walking into the most dense bushes or behind the most unfriendly rocks (guess for what purpose!) one could sometimes see some toilet paper and even some human waste. But then what, most people only visit such spot for just that purpose. I can understand that there is a reason to take precautions at the most popular sites and trails. But that is the special case, not the general solution. A few nights I have been camping at sites with quite large groups present. Now lastly, a large group of about 30 Russians. Very well organised but no toilet solution. In the morning bare bums all over in the dense bushes. I stayed there for one more night and to my surprise the next morning there was no real signs of this being a huge camp site the night before, still clean and pristine. But certainly some poop in the most dense bushes, but incredibly small amounts of paper. So, yes, if you know how to do it, there is no need of a trowel. By the way, I also learned something new, “thumbs up”. When I was squatting in the morning one of the Russians came around. We both said “oh sorry” or “excuse me” or like, but then the other person made “thumbs up” and said “good luck”, smiled and disappeared. I will use that myself next time I walk in on someone doing business. By the way, I read the book “How to shit in the woods” this spring. Sound principles, but all too complicated to me.

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