Halfway through our twelve mile descent to the Half Dome backpacker's camp in Yosemite, it began to rain. Not a heavy rain, but a gloomy, cold, ceaseless drizzle. For some reason we didn't have our full rain gear with us and so it wasn't long before we were pretty damp and uncomfortable. That's the polite way of putting it. More like we were tired and pissed. When you're busy yakking, the miles fly by, but we weren't feeling very chatty so every mile seemed to last foreeeever. We were feeling downright lousy by the time we dragged into camp. We set up our tent in the rain (if you haven't done it, hope you don't ever have to), and then to make matters worse, Justin started to feel sick. About to puke sick, which was not an exciting thought for me since I knew I'd be spending the night next to him in a very small space. He laid down in the tent, but going to sleep so damp and sticky seemed unbearable. I'm not a pack-a-hairbrush-have-to-bathe sort of girl, but the afternoon had sucked. Justin was sick, and we had a lot of miles to cover the next day. Suddenly, the only way to turn the day around seemed to be to take a bath. So I decided Damn it! I will take a bath! It was misty and cold, but it had stopped raining, so I pulled out a clean pair of clothes and headed towards the sound of water. When I reached the river there was no way I was going to scramble and pick my way upstream to get out of view. My legs were done hiking for the day. So I stripped right down and waded in and I didn't care if anyone saw me at that point. Saying that was one of the quickest bathing experiences of my life is an understatement. But watching steam pour off my body was pretty awesome. We've all seen steam from our breathes, but rising off your body? I'd never experiences it before, and fortunately haven't since. I think once was enough for me.
Ever wonder why we do this kind of stuff? Why you do this kind of stuff? Seriously. We could just drive somewhere epic, but we choose to walk for days. We could be at home going out for a nice dinner (which for us probably actually means just making a Taco Bell run) and coming home to a hot shower, but instead we cook some ramen at the end of a long day and crawl into our sleeping bags dirty and sweaty. There's blisters, rain, intense heat, unexpected snow, and usually some serious body odor. We've lost toe nails, hoisted packs onto bruised hips day after day, and woken up to find ice sheets on the inside of our tent. I don't know about you guys, but we do it because we can't imagine how boring our lives would be if we always did things the easy way - only focused on living a comfortable life. Have you noticed that epic stories usually include stuff like, "And then we got hit by this crazy storm that almost blew our tent off the mountain. It was raining so hard we couldn't light our stove to make dinner, and we were absolutely starving because we'd covered 16 miles, and then...". It's amazing how experiences peppered with unpleasant events can end up being some of your favorite memories! Or maybe I just wrote this to try to convince myself that we're going to love wind, rain, snow, and fording glacial rivers while backpacking the Laugavegur trail in Iceland this summer! I'll let you know.