Hiking with an Ostomy

Last updated: May 2022

The weather has finally turned chilly and the leaves are putting on their best show of fall colors. With the great outdoors calling my name I decided to take back an activity I hadn't participated in since diagnosis. I decided to go hike a waterfall.

The idea was daunting. How would I handle my ostomy bag miles out in the wilderness? What would I do if my bag failed? Would I even have the stamina to do a big hike?

Here is how I prepared and tackled my first hike as an ostomate.

Preparation

Not only would this hike be a long one (three waterfalls in one day), but it would also take a two-hour car ride from my home. I needed to make sure I had everything I needed on hand.

I packed my "go bag" with the supplies necessary for a complete bag change. I also included a leg bag in case I found myself in a position where I could get to a restroom or discrete place to empty my pouch. Lastly, I made sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and a can-do attitude.

Going on the hike

This hike consisted of three different waterfall trails with the longest being a 4-mile round trip hike. I had an amazing time hiking along the rivers and taking in the scenery.

On the occasion that my pouch did fill, I didn't feel comfortable making it back to the restroom I calmly found a tree off the path to step behind and empty. This only happened once the entire day and it was an easy process. It definitely gave new meaning to "oh the places you'll go."

Post-hike recovery

After a fantastic day hiking, I knew my body was going to need extra consideration when I got home. After my diagnosis and surgery, I've learned that long bouts of activity lead to leg swelling and stiffness.

So, when I got home I made sure to slip on compression socks, elevate my feet and drink plenty of water. I also gave myself some grace knowing I would most likely have a little more fatigue the next day than the average person. I was pleased to note that the swelling was very minimal and my fatigue was nothing a little extra sleep couldn't help.

Hiking with an ostomy

Having an ostomy doesn't have to be a barrier to hiking, exercising, or doing any activity you enjoy. It just takes some extra prep and flexibility to adjust to full pouches, leaks, and post-activity fatigue. I can't wait to go on my next hike.

I am already planning my first overnight hike very soon!

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