Lydia and I have been happily married for 6.5 years (you could probably subtract a few moments during long days on the Colorado Trail, a few debatable decisions about storm clouds & going over a pass where words like I’m never hiking with you again were uttered, and other times when I’ve failed to live up to being prince charming) at the time of this post so we’ve come to the point in the relationship where honesty is not only the best policy…at times it can be brutal. We had one of those moments on one of our first backpacking trips of the year and luckily in this case a simple gear change brought back the love (don’t you wish all relationship issues could be addressed this way?).
There have been many times where due to space limitations we’ve slept within feet of our good friend Ranger Nick. Personal space doesn’t exist in the open spaces of the wilderness sometimes. There have been jokes about a Buffalo Creek baby (that was at least a year ago so I can safely report those rumors were false). But generally speaking if the tent is rockin that means the dogs are walkin (around in it). Well during one of the cold early season trips this year when we were all snuggled up with 200 pounds of dog and perspiration should not have been an issue Lydia felt the need to exercise her right to be brutally honest. She said, “Honey, you stink!”
A less mature person (read someone not matured by 6+ years of marital bliss) would have blamed it on a dog fart. Alas, I owned up to it. Step 1, denial, accomplished. So what to do about it?
A less intelligent backpacker would have applied deodorant and/or cologne, but the bears would get him rendering the relationship in more disarray than in the first place. A more traditional backpacker (one who doesn’t espouse the principles of ultralight backpacking) would simply have brought some clean clothes to sleep in…pshaw. Depending on your spiritual views and what governs or doesn’t govern the universe you could chalk what happened next up to fate, karma, or divine intervention. I choose the latter. You see I just happened to read Andrew Skurka’s blog post (after attending one of his book promotion events) and found that GoLite was having a 50% off sale due to changes in their sales model. Despite our hectic summer schedule we made it to the new store in downtown Denver. Lo and behold their wool shirts were on sale! Having heard before that sheep don’t stink (who said that?) and that some of the marketing hype around synthetic shirts might wear off after a few hundred miles on the trail I decided to give it a try. I only found the long sleeve Koli in my size, but Lydia found a sale on Icebreaker and picked up a short sleeve shirt the next day.
Now that I’ve done a couple of hikes in the wool shirts I can safely say the love is back! I even did a little experiment. I spent a weekend in the mountains with the guys and pretty much wore the same shirt. When I got back, I smelled it. I didn’t pass out! Lest it just be that I had evolved to withstand my own smell (something that does happen on long distance hikes) I then cranked it to 11, handed the shirt to Lydia, and had her take a whiff. It passed the test.
How bout you…would you rather snuggle up to a wooly lamb or to shards of recycled bottles and polyester? Anything else that has improved your love life on the trail (please no spammers selling pills or surgeries)?