The Stench Lives On

It rained today. I wore my raincoat to work, of course. This raincoat is the same one that I wore on the trail from Damascus to Katahdin. I washed it thoroughly when I returned home. Twice. Yet, the hiker stench remained.

At first, I couldn’t imagine wearing it in public. I realized, “so that’s what I smelled like while on the trail.”

When I donned my raincoat this morning, the nose-wrinkling stench didn’t in fact wrinkle my nose. It was the smell of a thru-hiker, a person that I became last year and always will be. A stench so pungent, that I couldn’t possibly think of anything else but the trail. This coat took me through one of the rainiest seasons of thru-hiking ever. It traveled almost 2,000 miles and made the climb up Katahdin. Imagine what 2,000 miles of rain, sweat, dirt, blood, mud, and Little Debbie’s smells like. That’s my coat. So, instead of cursing said raincoat today I decided to embrace the smell. It’s a scent more than stench; the thru-hiker scent.

Maybe I should wash it again. It could be a normal raincoat again if I really tried. Maybe I should just buy a new one. What do the patrons of the grocery store or my neighborhood cafe think when they smell me before they see me? Maybe it’s time to retire this coat. Intense body odor isn’t really acceptable in public locations these days, is it?


But let’s be honest. I’m proud of that nasty raincoat. Nah. I think I’ll keep the coat, stench and all.

5 thoughts on “The Stench Lives On

  1. That’s a keepsake. I’d keep it, smelly and all. It’s like perfume sprayed on a letter. The smell will remain and with it so will the wonderful memories.

  2. You may want to have a trusted friend do a test sniff and tell you if it really smells to other people. Some of those trail smells get deep into our noses and minds and leave us hypersensitive to them in the future I think. We associate that smell with memories and so notice them differently than others…or maybe it really is time to bury it 😉

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