About three years ago my mom and I decided that we wanted to complete a thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). We set the date for 2014 and started planning. For my 62 year old post-menopausal mom, she didn’t have to give any thought to menstrual care. For 42 year old menstruating me, I gave it a lot of thought. For 150+ days we’ll be backpacking on the PCT and the majority of those days will entail getting sweaty and dirty, using bushes as bathrooms, and very little ability to wash. We’ll be packing out all our trash and the thought of carrying around dirty pads and tampons was less than appealing to me.
I’ve always been a pad and tampon gal but knew that this hike would mean I’d have to find another way. I’d heard about menstrual cups but had never tried them and after reading several articles and blogs from other female hikers, decided to try The DivaCup.
I will admit that it took a little getting used to. Inserting and positioning the cup entailed a learning curve. I tried it out first for a couple of months in my day to day life before taking advantage of the timing of my period with a weekend backpacking trip where I could test the cup on the trail. I had worries. With dirty hands and limited access to water, how would I handle handling the cup? Surprisingly it went smoother than I anticipated. Digging a cat hole for waste is the norm so emptying the contents of the cup into the cat hole was easy. I made sure to carry a bottle filled with water – my hydration system is a bladder in my pack so access to water that I could pour meant having a bottle handy. I was able to easily swish some water in the cup to clean it out before reinsertion.
The greatest thing was being able to hike all day and not have to think about the fact that I had my period. I inserted it in the morning when I got up, removed and cleaned it when we stopped for dinner, and that was it.
How easy is that?
No trash, minimal fuss, and thanks to disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer my worries about having dirty hands were unfounded. I used the cup through the latter part of summer on several backpacking weekends and was so thrilled to have found a solution. And when I didn’t need it anymore, the handy little storage bag worked great. I could throw it in my pack and be good to go.
There are a lot of details to work out yet for our hike but one that is firmly marked off my list is my menstruation care – my DivaCup will be stowed in my pack, and I’m set! You can follow our adventure on the trail at Swollen Feat where I’m sure you’ll hear even more about the wonders of my Diva Cup during this adventure. Thank you Diva Cup!
Michele is one-half of the Swollen Feat team along with her mother Leslie. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her crazy cat Emily, and is busily planning her 2014 thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada). She’s working three jobs and trying not to be overtaken by her many to-do lists. You can follow her plans online at Swollen Feat.