"Whoa, you look like a volcano blew up in your face." (Actually, I had been cleaning fire pits, so perhaps this one was justified.)
"Where have you BEEN?"
"You look like you've been out a long time."
"You look a little rough from your travels."
Side note: do random strangers say things like this to men? I also once had a man say, "Stylish!" as I hiked past. I was wearing a sun shirt and a hiking skirt. Apparently hiking skirts have not made it to the Grand Canyon yet.
|"Stylish" on the PCT in 2015.|
Worry about how wilderness is vanishing in the world. How it's becoming no longer relevant to a whole generation. How attacks on it are shrinking our public lands.
As for me, I don't know what it is, but the minute I step on a trail I become a hot mess. Hair everywhere, scratches on my legs, dirty clothes. Do I care? Nope. I even found a hat that sums up my attitude.
In fact, I look remarkably similar on trail and off. Hmm...Above, the showered version...
|After a week (100 miles) on trail|
I found an article for women (of course) on how to look good while backpacking. Dry shampoo? Foundation? Um, nope. Ain't nobody got time for that! I have had hiking partners that will veer off trail for a shower. Me, I'd rather keep hiking and get a shower at the end. The contrast to ordinary life is what I crave. Why do the same things you do at home? Jumping in a lake (no soap!) is just as good.
So if you've somehow navigated here looking for wisdom on how to look put together while backpacking, sorry, this is not the place. My only advice is: Hats. Hats cover a multitude of sins. Clothes can be rinsed out, no need to carry a metric ton of them. Small gaiters are miracle workers in keeping your feet clean-ish. Sunscreen is the only "foundation" you need. One concession: I pack a tiny hairbrush, otherwise I'd end up with dreadlocks.
Guys, none of this probably matters to you. Looking like a mountain man is generally considered a good thing (I have seen guys who shave every day. Unclear on why). However, baby wipes can be your friend (pack them out).
There concludes my unhelpful advice on how to look good in the woods. Basically: I have no idea! How do some people sport white T-shirts that stay white? How do some people look like they stepped out of an REI catalog? For the love of everything holy, how do people manage to not sit in sap, get clawed by bushes, or face plant into poison ivy? You've got me.
****Edit! As Jill pointed out, there are moments where hygiene must occur. Not only for your own sanity, but for your own health. Only you can decide when that is. But please! Do not do as some backpackers do and lather up and jump in the water. Yes even with biodegradable soap.