mile 282.6 – mile 301.3

18.7 miles

Don’t worry, I’ve blocked off the part below where I go into detail about how women handle their periods on trail, so you don’t have to read it if you’re not interested.
It was cold this morning and I had little motivation for leaving my tent other than a cherry pop tart. This is what it comes down to, I have to lure myself from my tent with pop tarts sometimes. That’s just the truth. 
I did get myself moving, eventually, not too late. I walked along, eating my pop tarts, enjoying the warm sunshine, noticing the frost on tree stumps. 
A few miles into my hike, I walked through a real campground and got to use a fancy solar-powered pit toilet. Such a luxury. 
I walked some more, switch-backing down and then back up. Moving from piney forest to scrubby desert, or somewhere in between. I scooped water from a clean-ish pond. I walked on. I found service and stopped to call my mom and grandmother to wish them happy Mother’s Day. 
It got hotter and hotter. I walked and walked. I stopped to pee. When I got back on trail, there was a giant snake. Right there! Had there been a snake there before? I don’t remember. It seems like a thing I would have noticed, but I had to pee. I don’t like snakes. Was he poisonous? Don’t know don’t care. I don’t think so. But still, doesn’t matter. This fat guy was stretched right across the trail and he was not moving. I tossed a stick his way and it landed across him. Didn’t flinch. I tossed a couple of rocks his way and he raised up his head and stuck out his tongue. I stopped and waited and talked to him. “Alright man, I don’t want any trouble. I just want to walk past you down the trail. Could you maybe move, ’cause I’m really scared of you.” And he moved! Slowly. Once only the tip of his long tail was left on trail, I ran past him, letting out a squeak. 
The tread was pretty even today, no big gains or losses in elevation. We just gently wound our way around a valley. For such a gentle day, I was in a lot of pain today. Incredibly, this was my first really painful day. The whole right side of my body hurt, from the bottom of my right foot, up my calf, through my hamstring, into my hip, up my back and right up under my scapula. Still, I walked on and on, not sure where or when to stop. Clearly, I didn’t learn my lesson yesterday. 
Really, I wanted to catch up with Wang or GB or both. This is the conclusion I think I’ve come to: while I love hiking alone and going at my own pace, it means a lot to share this whole experience with friends, and I’ve found some good ones. 
At the end of the day, almost 19 miles in, desperate for a camping spot, I looked down from the ridge I was in and saw Wang’s tent. I turned right around and made my way down to where she was camped by a river. “Wang!” “Kristen!” It was so good to find each other! 
Hey, look at how nice I am! I’m blocking off the whole part where I talk about my period so you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.
Warning: I get pretty graphic here about the details of how I handle my period on trail because I know I was really interested in finding info on how women dealt with this part of hiking. You’ve been warned! 
No, really! Turn back now, lest you find out things you don’t want to know. Here be dragons!
So, I’ve kind of felt my period coming on for days. This is probably why I’ve been struggling so hard core with being homesick and feeling so heavy the past few days. Hormones. 
When I woke up this morning, I had a feeling today was the day, so I popped in my menstrual cup. Lovely word, menstrual. I use a Lunette cup, but many women use a Diva cup. If you’re interested in trying out a cup, I would highly recommend it. There is tons of into on YouTube of all places where people describe the differences in the cups and how to choose one for your body. I started with the Diva and had a really frustrating time of it until I moved to the Lunette, which worked perfectly from the start. 
By the end of the day, I had, indeed, started my period. The storm has broken! 
Since I’m writing this a whole day later, because I’m lazy and have gotten behind in my work, I can go ahead and tell you about all the fun I’m having on trail with my period. For those of you interested- mostly ladies, I assume, and a few interested perverts- I have decided to use a menstrual cup on trail, instead of tampons, etc., mostly just because I didn’t want to have to carry used tampons around with me for days before finding a place to throw them away. Yes, I know, gross. Many women use a cup and some use tampons, some stop menstruating from all of the exercise, and some take their birth control pill so as to avoid their period. 
Here’s the method of using the cup that I learned through other people’s blogs and podcasts (this gets really graphic, if you were at all on the fence): Every few hours, at least for the first day or so, I have to find a discreet location, dig a hole, clean my hands, retrieve the cup, dump it, pee on it to “clean” it, re-place it and then clean and sterilize myself and make myself presentable again. It’s a feat of acrobatics every time. Today (being tomorrow), I was almost lit’rally, hanging off the side of a mountain, balancing behind my umbrella to get the job done. 
Yes, I’ll be glad when it’s all over. Good news is, I already feel like I have energy again. 
So, there ya have it. 

Today I met Bliss, but we didn’t actually talk much, just leapfrogged all day. 
Today I learned:
– The next time I’m feeling like nothing is going right, it might just mean I’m about to get my period. Duh. 
– It’s way more fun to share this experience with friends. Duh. 
Today’s hike was powered by sunshine!