Trail Hygiene

We’ve been asked a couple of questions regarding trail hygiene, so hopefully this answers those questions.  If not, please ask in the comments.


How often and where?

As often as we can, wherever we can.  For the first two weeks, we managed to get two showers each – the first about 4 days in when we rented a cabin in Mount Laguna.  The second was about 10 days in when we got to Warner Springs and they offered showers for $6 at the community center.

Our latest was at Idyllwild on day 15.  After a couple of cold and wet days, we rented a cabin for the night to wash us, our gear and let everything dry out.

Right now we can’t afford to carry water for bathing purposes.  It weighs too much and sources are few and far between.  So any water carried is for consumption.

I won’t lie – we do get funky.  In addition to the baby wipes, we have some dehydrated Action Wipes to help us freshen up before exposing ourselves to the public.  But that only does so much when the clothes haven’t been washed in a week.

Needless to say, we’re looking forward to the high mountain lakes.


Wherever we can, abiding by the Leave No Trace principles of staying away from water sources and trails while burying the waste and packing out any wipes.

They are simple concepts that are apparently lost on some of our fellow hikers.

Early on we went with a hiker bidet, hoping to not carry anything out.  Go ahead and click on the link, it’s safe for work and everyone is fully clothed.  But that method required carrying extra water, a luxury we couldn’t afford here in the desert.  So we’re now using baby wipes, which are quite effective.  And lighter than a liter of water.


Honestly, a waste of weight. One day in and we’re dirty.  Everyone is.  Those precious ounces are better used for water.

Mind you, some people carry it.  But it’s not necessary. And once we get into bear country, it’s yet another thing that we’d have to make space for in our bear canister, as all of our toiletries and food will have to be protected.


Like showers, when we can.  But it’s not as frequent.

When we arrived at Mount Laguna, the innkeeper handed us a 5-gallon bucket and a cup of laundry detergent.  It worked fine.

When we got to Warner Springs, the volunteers at the community center would do a load for $6.  Totally worth it to have everything machine washed.

Here in Idyllwild, we’re having to hand-wash the important things.  There’s a laundromat in town, but the location and hours aren’t convenient for our schedule.

On hiking days, we use diaper pins to hang the socks and undies off our pack.  There’s no better disinfectant than the sun and no better deodorizer than the sun and fresh air.  We just make sure to remove everything before heading into town.

Because who wants to see someone’s laundry while in the checkout line?


We’re becoming big fans of these toothpaste tablets.  Bite one in half and there’s enough for a good scrubbing.  One tablet is good for one day.

We also carry spools of dental floss and I have some tea tree chewing sticks that help brush the teeth all day long.

The dental floss does triple duty, handy for emergency sewing repairs and, more frequenly, for threading blisters.

But that’s fodder for a different post.

Any other questions? Please let us know.


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