Wednesday, February 12, 2014

140. Hiker Perfume

As I have previously mentioned, long-distance hikers can smell day-hikers from a long way off. But it's quite likely that they can smell us, too. It's no secret: hikers are smelly. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about that end of things because frankly that's going to be its own post. 

No, instead I want to talk about the beauty of Hiker Febreze. It's not the sort of febreze that you see in commercials, used by harassed-looking parents trying in vain to pretend that they don't have any teenage sons. In my experience with that chemical stuff, all it does is make everything smell very distantly like a burned-down body spray factory. I remember once spraying it all over a pair of pants in college, and being followed by a stray dog across campus, sniffing madly at my ankles. In retrospect, these two coincidental events may have nothing to do with each other. 

The only smell powerful enough to overcome hikerstench is campfire smoke. This doesn't stop the hiker from stinking, it just changes the nature of the smell. Instead of the fragrant ambiance of ripe green onions, it's more like mild green onions wrapped in cedarwood-smoked bacon. On another note, I could always tell that I was hungry if I caught a whiff of another hiker and felt my mouth water. Is that weird? Yes. Yes that is weird. Not as weird as using a piece of flavored string to dig partially-masticated food bits out from between your teeth. That's weird. But it's called flossing, and your dentist wishes you would just do it.

Over the summer, just sitting by the fire didn't soak up enough of the scent. Also, if it was a hot night, the last thing we wanted to do was sit in the glow of nature's furnace. Lastly, after a day of sweating, our clothing was often quite damp. How to solve these problems all at once? Build a small fire and setting a clothing line over the heat. I wish I had more photo evidence of this, but it happened frequently throughout the sweatier months. 

If you're really desperate, you can also try just rubbing the smoke around on your body like soap. It might not make much of a difference, but hiking for the first hour of your day with woodsmoke smell perfume is how we hikers feel fancy.

Clever Girl


  1. One night I hung my wool socks to dry out inside my tent. Their aroma was so intense that it actually woke me up gagging. Needless to say, they got the old heave ho. Even at that, it took a solid hour for my tent to air out.