One of my favorite parts about hiking is the solitude. I love the time to think and process information, and just enjoy being outside with the sun, sky, trees, and animals. Maybe this makes me sound sappy, but I really enjoy the alone time. And since I work in software, time away from a computer is always welcome.
However, I know even when I hike in quite a ways off the well traveled trails to expect people. I’ve seen people in places I didn’t think I’d ever see someone, and in fact their usual response is “I didn’t expect to see anyone this far out”.
We all know most people are found about 2 miles from a trailhead, but even when hiking further in I always assume someone can see me. Several times I’ve been surprised to see people off trail “in the middle of nowhere”, and once I had someone tell me he’d followed me with his binoculars for over a mile before I met up with him (no worries here, it was a hunter who heard a rockslide and thought I’d been hurt… He just wanted to congratulate me for successfully maneuvering the route without dying).
It’s an inconvenient truth that if you’re hiking and you’re drinking water, at some point you’ll need to pee. No one knows this more than I do, and usually the urge comes above treeline, when everything is exposed. I think this is something women are more aware of than men, but something happened to me today that got me to thinking… I’ve seen at least 5 men peeing out in the open this year while hiking, and I haven’t yet seen one woman doing the same. I know the numbers of men hiking far outrank those of women, but come on guys? Seriously?
There are rules about such behavior, for your comfort as well as mine. I realize it’s not always possible to deviate 200 feet from a trail to do your business, but at least do the best you can.
Today while hiking this became a serious issue. Not for me, but for the guy decided to pee on trail, and the woman he was with.
You see, I was on a very well traveled trail, hiking towards a popular junction connecting two trails, about 3 miles from a trailhead. I wasn’t being quiet (I have a walking stick that makes a dreadful noise every time it hits the dirt), and I saw a couple of mountain bikers stopped for a rest. I saw them a good 50 feet before they saw me. In fact, I was about 10 feet away when the man suddenly turned around, whipped it out, and started to pee. I saw the whole process, and was thinking “No, that can’t be what he’s doing”, but yes, it was. It took him at least 2 seconds to realize I was hiking towards him in full view, whereupon he quickly turned (embarrassed), and ended up peeing on his (female) partner who was standing right next to him.
It didn’t end well, and I ended up being the one most embarrassed, even though I’d done nothing wrong.
This brings up so many issues! Men, do you really pee in front of the women you’re with? Is it really so hard to walk a few yards away for privacy? Do you really think you’re the only one on the trail? I’m only bringing this up because it’s happened so many times this year it’s becoming bothersome.