Disclaimer: This article is intended for entertainment purposes only. While the afflictions described herein are perfectly common, any advice given in the following article is the result of me being a smart aleck, as my mom always said. Please hike responsibly, and please, for all our sakes, pack Neosporin.
In a previous article I described the extremely common and potentially deady malady GetHomeitis. Here I would like to continue to add to your wealth of outdoor knowledge by briefly identifying some other common afflictions that we are affected by as we become one with nature and all that crap.
Living in the southwest can be a memorable and highly rewarding experience. The contrast between bustling city and forgotten desert has so much to offer those wishing to live a fulfilling life: recreational opportunities, unlimited growth with an infinite number of orange cones, freeway bumpercars and demolition derby, nine months of beautiful weather, a seemingly endless supply of places to buy RVs, and a greater doctor to prostate ratio than any other place on the planet. Sometimes it is just reassuring to know there are scads of folks out there just lined up to take a peek at your colon.
For the lover of the outdoors, the possibilities are endless. Majestic snowcapped mountains, conifer forests rising 10 thousand feet above the quiet solitude of the Sonoran Desert floor, the stately saguaro and the shaking quaking aspen all await those who are willing to leave the pavement. It is entirely possible to be hacking yourself dizzy with lung fungus one moment, then nursing a high altitude nosebleed the next. These perks however, are not without their drawbacks. They say, if it pokes, prods, stings, sticks, or stinks, it probably lives in Arizona. And not just in rougher parts of Maryvale or in Apache Junction. There are many difficulties awaiting the unprepared backcountry traveler: being struck by a rattlesnake, stung by a scorpion, falling down a ravine, running out of water, breaking two fingernails, and being shot by a Border Patrol Agent.
The following are some of the most common problems that hikers, campers, fishermen, illegal immigrants, and escaped convicts may come up against, and what you yourself can do about it, without Blue Cross Blue Shield (unless you are that escaped convict, then you may want to keep the card so you can break into someone's house and steal some clean underwear).
SwampAss is probably the most common complaint afflicting those in the backcountry. SwampAss is caused by the repetitive motion of your legs while walking, which moves each buttcheek independently up and down against each other, causing friction. Add in the sweat running in rivers down your back, collecting in pools in every crevice and hollow of your celluloid laden rear, and suddenly you have a N'Orleans alligator pond in your pants. The repetitive chafing, the humidity, and the fact that you don't wash down there much anyway, make for a heaping helping of pain. If you have to, say, dig a cathole for elimination purposes, this compounds the problem. Imagine wiping with a corn cob. Wrapped in medium grade sandpaper. After it's been set on fire. This is why every mess kit should include a big ol' hunk of government cheese.
Okay, so your butt hurts. How do we deal with that? Some people swear by the "soak it in the creek" method, whereas the person with SwampAss merely disrobes and sits down in an ice cold stream. While this sounds refreshing, I myself don't like the idea of having cryptosporidium setting up house in my rectum. To each their own though.
Prickly Pear cactus can be used as an pooper poultice. Cut off a pad, slice it open, and apply to the affected area. Be sure to snip off the thorns first, though. The roots of the Pale Purple Cornflower, if you can find them, can be ground, added to a small amount of water and made into a paste. Also called Echinacea, the roots actually work as an anesthetic. Really- the Japanese have been using it for centuries. And ya know, I have never once seen a Japanese hiker suffering from this affliction. Plus, it's fun having a numb butt!
Perhaps the best remedy for SwampAss is to reach into your handy first aid kit and pull out your tube of Neosporin. Glob a generous amount of that in and amongst your crack, and you'll be good to go. Just wipe your hands on your pant legs, it won't matter.
SwampEar is very similar to SwampAss. This condition is caused from wearing one of those funny flimsy hats while fishing Canyon Lake in 110 degree heat. You may not realize it, but there is a fine line between fishing, and standing on the bank looking like an idiot. And, as you slowly go blind from the water glare, the 10 gallons of sweat that is pouring from underneath that neato hat is collecting in your ear canal. Soon your balance is off and you can't hear your campmates as they scream for help trying to get out of that yonder quicksand. And so far you have had only 10 beers.
What to do? First of all, quit digging in there with your dirt and earthworm carnage encrusted fingers. Head back to camp, relax, set up your trusty camp stove, and put on some tea to boil. We recommend Almond Vanilla. Or perhaps Caramel Hazelnut. Drink your cup of tea. Set up your cup and stove and boil another. Repeat this process about 6-8 times until you have to pee so bad your back teeth are floating. Then, after letting your cup cool for a time, go away from the campfire and your tent (because knowing how much alcohol you have consumed, your urine is probably flammable), pee in your cup, and then pour the contents directly into your ear. Yes, that's right. You can apply the remedy direct from the tap of one your campmates if you are into that.
Let your ear drain for a few minutes and you are fixed right up. Yes, you did just pour pee in your ear, but be happy- you will soon be the talk of camp because of all the butterflies attached to your face.
The final calamity we'll discuss today is not limited to outdoorsmen. In fact, everyone has at one time or another experienced this malady, even if their daily excursions are limited to the supermarket parking lot, the shopping mall, and the Ancient Korean Massage Parlor, Sushi Bar, and 10 Minute Oil Change Palace. We're talking here about Toejam.
Now this isn't the odoriferous material which frequently builds colonies in the spaces between your toes. That would actually be preferable. At least you could use it to spice up your Ramen. No, this is the unfortunate condition which occurs on downhill slopes, whether gradient or steep, when the toes are jammed into the toe box of your boots with an unequivocal violent force, resulting in excruciating pain and the instantaneous development of an entirely new language comprised of nothing but colorful curse words. Unless you have only walked on a completely flat surface, such as Paris Hilton's chest, you most likely have experienced ToeJam. How do you know you have ToeJam, besides your own screaming? Well, all your toenails will be bruised completely black.
But what causes this terrible predicament? What scientific forces are at work here? It's a very complicated array of conditions, suitable for any research study funded by the government, but I'll try to put the situation into layman's terms. Toejam is the direct result of one or more of the following problems:
1. Your boots are too small.
2. Your boots are too big.
3. Your boots are laced too tightly.
4. Your boots are not laced tightly enough.
If one or more of these presented conditions are applicable in your current footwear situation, then you are a likely candidate for Toe Jam. Best to quit buying your boots at K-Mart and fork over a little more cash for a good pair that actually fit. Big Lots has a sale right now. Oh, and if that big toe nail falls off, for the love of god, don't throw it away! You can use that to spice up your Ramen. As for the "black toe"- wear it proudly! And enjoy all those compliments from the Goth chicks.
Hopefully, these solutions to common hiking maladies will be helpful. And, if not, there is always Wii Hiking. Isn't there? If not, Joe! Hey..get on that!!