I’ve had an unfinished post in my draft file for over a week. It is about a hiking trip I took over the Labor Day weekend to Southern New Mexico. We did a couple of brutal hikes and, as I was hiking along, sweating like a pig and wondering if I was going to make it back to the trailhead before collapsing from the heat, I was composing the post in my head. At the time, I thought it was hilarious – I think I may have been mentally impaired due to the heat exhaustion, because when I got home and started writing it out, it was not at all funny – and it didn’t make much sense. After a few lackluster tries, I just couldn’t bring myself to try to finish it.
Then today, I took another hike – and something happened that inspired me to write a new story. But in order for this one to make sense, I have to tell you a little bit about what happened over the Labor Day Weekend. So, climb aboard my imaginary time machine and we’ll head back about a week.
The hikes we took on our little holiday trip were in the desert. I hadn’t done any desert hiking before and I may not do any desert hiking again – because (just in case you weren’t aware) the desert is fucking hot! The things I saw were interesting, beautiful in their own way, and sometimes crazy scary.
I saw about a gazillion of these:
And about a thousand of these:
Dozens of these:
I trudged along, guzzling quarts of water in an attempt to stave off certain death. Surprisingly, although I was sweating out the water just about as fast as I was drinking it, some apparently made it to my bladder. I had to pee – but I didn’t want to pop a squat on the trail and do my business where anyone might see (or a rattlesnake might bite me on the ass). You see, I have a problem with peeing outdoors after a traumatic incident when I was a pre-teen – and I’m proud of the fact that since then, I’ve managed to make it back to the trailhead and the incredibly fragrant pit toilets, where the only witnesses are the hordes of huge black flies.
So, that brings me back to today’s hike. We drove on a particularly intense, one-lane, winding mountain gravel road with terrifying drop-offs until we reached the trailhead. The temperature was cool and there was plenty of shade and a nice breeze as we walked along the crest of the mountain with awe-inspiring vistas all around us.
I sipped at my water along the way, drinking only one 23.7 fluid ounce bottle on the six-mile round trip. However, by the time I made it back to the cars, I had to pee – badly. The group I was in – four fun and rather rowdy women – had made it back to the trailhead far ahead of the rest of the group. If I waited until everyone got there and we drove back down the scary road, it would be another hour or more to get to the toilets in the campground at the base of the mountain. I had to face facts – I couldn’t wait that long.
I told my friends I was going to take a walk down the road to find a quiet, private spot to pee. I finally found the perfect place – off the road far enough that no passing cars could see me, relatively flat so there was no danger of me falling off the side of the mountain, and no rattlesnakes in sight. I quickly unbuttoned my brand new, lightweight hiking pants, dropped them to my knees, and assumed the position. Then tragedy struck.
I started to pee, but instead of a nice, steady, straight stream – my urine seemed to have a life of its own. Part hit the ground, as expected – but the majority of the liquid took a hard right turn and hit my pants leg. I tried to stop peeing but, I’m ashamed to admit, I haven’t been doing my kegel muscle exercises lately (oh hell, I might as well be honest – I’ve never done my kegel muscle exercises). I watched in hopeless horror as the pee kept spraying (it seemed like it would never end) and my pants were soaked from the knee down. If I had been thinking clearly, I could have tried to block the stream with my hand – I know that sounds disgusting (and it is) but I could have then wiped my hand down with one of the miniscule sheets of facial tissue I had brought with me and slathered it in anti-bacterial gel. No one would have been the wiser (and I wouldn’t have shaken any hands until after I made it to a real bathroom with hot, running water and soap). But my mind was addled from the altitude and this thought didn’t cross my mind until the deed was done.
As I stood slowly and hitched up my pants, the soaking wet fabric brushed against my inner calf and a bit of liquid dribbled down and wet the top of my sock. I just stood there for a few moments, dazed, trying to process what had just happened. This was not something I could hide…or really explain. All of the facial tissues in the world could not blot up the evidence of my indignity. I finally climbed back up to the road and began my slow walk of shame back to the cars.
There was nothing I could do but tell the girls what happened. As I expected, they erupted into hysterical laughter. I think I saw some tears, but it was hard to be sure, as they were bent over trying to catch their breath between hoots of mirth. I grabbed my water bottle and poured the contents over the saturated area of my pants, attempting to rinse out the urine. For the first time in my life I was grateful for my sweaty sports bra and T-shirt – maybe the stench from them would mask any fragrance from my own, special, eau de toilette de pee.
When the girls finally got themselves under control again, I swore them to secrecy. Not only because I wanted to avoid further humiliation, but because the woman I had driven with had been giving all of the passengers in the car nicknames. She named one woman “Captain Obvious” because she had innocently made a remark about the weather. The other was “Miss Sleepy” because she had yawned hugely and mentioned that she was exhausted. The last thing I wanted was to be dubbed “The Piddler” or “Princess Pee-pee”.
My hiking pants were worth every penny I spent – the combination of the sun and the breeze had the lightweight fabric nearly dry before the next group of hikers came over the hill.
I think my secret is safe – at least for now. But, I’m not stupid – I know this story is too…juicy…to be kept under wraps for long.