Image of the December 2017 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
December 2017 Issue
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Staying healthy on the trail

Wash away rash-causing grime and sweat by taking a dip. Photo: Hannah Bedford
It’s tempting to throw personal hygiene to the wind on a long tramping trip, but, as trampers found during a norovirus outbreak at Nelson Lakes National Park earlier this year, the consequences can be severe.
Purify your water Giardia is present in many rivers and streams around New Zealand, and it’s the sort of souvenir you want to avoid. By filtering or purifying your water you’ll significantly reduce the risk. Wash your hands A squirt of hand sanitiser might kill the germs on your hands, but it won’t remove dirt or leave you feeling fresh. Wash your hands properly with biodegradable soap and water and dry thoroughly. Freshen up down below A swim in a lake or stream will wash away all the accumulated sweat and grime that comes from a hard day’s walk. If that’s not possible, a quick sponge bath with biodegradable soap and a microfibre flannel will help. Change your clothes Carry a set of thermals that’s just for sleeping in. You’ll avoid the risk of rashes and skin infections that comes from sleeping in grimy clothing. Avoid holding on The long drop might be less than salubrious, but by holding on, you increase the risk of urinary tract infections and constipation. Wash your dishes It might be tempting to lick your spork clean, but a runny tummy will soon put a dampener on the rest of your trip. Use biodegradable washing liquid or at the least rinse with boiling water.