The most essential item for a woman climbing 19,340 ft Mount Kilimanjaro is the Sani-Fem Freshette Feminine Urinary Director sold for $22.95 on www.REI.com. I had done lots of hiking in the Colorado Rockies before I departed on my school sponsored Kilimanjaro expedition at age seventeen but that didn’t change the fact that I was not fond of expelling the contents of my bladder without a clean toilet to sit on. The notion of dropping my pants and squatting to pee was simply awful. Even worse were the memories of the coarse grasses of the wild caressing my derrière. I was not looking forward to enduring this torture for eight days, but to my knowledge, there was no solution.
Honorable Mention 2010 FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
It was Amy Salot, a teacher who was participating in the trip, who opened my eyes to the pee funnel. She called me into her office one day to “discuss urination” and in fact we did just that. At first I was a little bit skeptical about the idea of peeing into a funnel but if it was going to make urinating in the wild more comfortable, I figured it was worth trying.
Day one on the mountain. Since we were already at 6,000 ft, it was vitally important that we drink lots and lots of water. Our guides, Destination Tanzania Safaris, recommended that we drink four liters a day. However, the result of drinking lots of water is unavoidably lots of urination. About 90 minutes into day one, I was already ready to “kill a monkey” as our guide Earnest said when someone had to pee.
What happened next is history. I didn’t have to squat, I didn’t have to pull my pants down – there was no inconvenience at all! It was almost as if I was a boy, standing there peeing into the woods. The convenience of the pee funnel became vitally important when I began taking Diamox, an altitude medication that would hopefully prevent any symptoms of high altitude sickness. Diamox is a diuretic, so it makes you pee, a lot. Our group determined that peeing on the mountain was characterized by the three C’s (clear, copious, and constant) because our group took frequent pee stops – each time resulting in an unusually large amount of urine without the slightest yellowish tint.
The next day passed and we reached the Shira Plateau (11,300 ft), where we could see the Kibo Massif for the first time. The summit isn’t visible until you are almost upon it, but the “almost top” of the mountain entranced me. I was forced to tear my eyes away and retreat to my zero degree sleeping bag when the sun set and the cold set in.
In the middle of the night, I woke up with a desperate urge to pee. I had no interest in venturing out into the frigid night but if I didn’t pee, I would be uncomfortable and wouldn’t be able to sleep, which would be a major problem considering I had a mountain to climb. It was only the second night of the trip and the pee funnel saved me…again! Without leaving the comfort and warmth of my own tent, I quickly peed in a clearly labeled bottle and went back to sleep.
The pee funnel is incredible. My Kilimanjaro experience would have been very different if it weren’t for this simple yet critical object and the convenience it offered during both day and night. Buy a pee funnel: it will be the best purchase you ever make.
Oh pee funnel, I love you
Never squat again
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