Close Your Ears, Gents: I’m on the Rag and Ready to Dish

Weeks ago, when I realized my little monthly visitor would be accompanying me during the first week of my thru-hike, I had a little tantrum. I even considered postponing my departure date. Actually, the only thing that stopped me from skooching it back a week was this imaginary dialogue:

Dude friend: “So, why did you decide to leave a week later?”
Me: “I, uh, well, the weather looks cold.”
Dude friend: “No, it doesn’t. I checked this morning.”
Me: “Oh, well, still I can’t go until a week later.”
Dude friend: “What? Explain. Are you wussing out?”
Me: “No, but I’m on my period the week I planned to start.”
Dude friend: “Oh, yeah. OK.”

This imaginary conversation made me realize I seriously needed to woman up and grab my femininity by the helm. But how? And since when was I so afraid of my monthly cycle that I would dare let it stop me from participating in life? Something was seriously wrong with the situation!

In talking with my non-outdoorsy girlfriends about thru-hiking, the period conversation nearly always came up. They wondered what I was going to do to deal with it.

I contemplated options like the cup, period panties, and various forms of birth control, but I quickly realized those methods are just so not me. If they are for you, go for it. I decided I would deal the same way I do every month.

Lucky for me I have a short, light cycle; maybe for some of you other ladies it might be a bit drawn out and, therefore, more challenging. But seriously, all in all, a period on the AT is the same as regular life. For example, just like at home I don’t keep my feminine product waste in the kitchen trash. Instead I have a separate garbage bag for that just like you have little trash cans by your toilets. And just like at home, I still had cramps this morning and didn’t much feel like moving, but I did anyway. I got out and hiked just like I would have gone to work if I had had my period last week.

I think the postmodern world of TV ads and commercials has taught women it’s OK to marginalize themselves by cowering from the world when the crimson wave arrives. Its not like monthly bleeding is a new thing. Seriously, our DNA is wired to cope with hormonal ebb and flow. It is the one thing that unites us as women. It is the one thing that makes us women. It is the one thing that has no bias. It is the one thing that disregards race, religion, economic status, and anything else that tries strong-arming the sisters of the world apart.

In some traditions, the monthly uterine purge is something to be celebrated, revered even. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see much of that in my suburban circles. I think it’s about time we woman up, and embrace our femininity even when it has us doubled over cursing. In fact, I think I’ll even hike a couple of extra miles today just to feel the strength of my femininity. But don’t worry. I’ll definitely be eating more chocolate tonight.

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Comments 2

  • Jonathan Mason : Apr 23rd

    Rachel, stay strong. This post and others I have read keep me getting ready for my week in Shenandoah this summer and half AT next year. If I survive those 2 then 2020 will be a AT hoke thru. I will be 66 by then so I will have the time and experience. Retired Army veteran will be out there with a mission. Thank you for the motivation.

  • Nadine : Apr 28th

    Ha! Rock on Sister! ‘Bout time someone addresses this topic… One more thing we are meant to deal with (like birth) without a big toodoo about it! I rode my first 50 mile bike ride a few years back bleeding profusely… I didn’t stay home that day, raised a bunch of $ for a good cause, and pushed through… It was cold and rainy and one of my proudest achievements (kinda forgetting at that finish line that my three natural amazing births also had some blood involved). We are meant to do things. Good for you! I hope to thru-hike the AT when it is time for me…I’m 50. Grateful for your writings! Happy hiking!


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