Number Two… With a View?

Now that you’re all geared up, it’s time to hit the trail. Fortunately, your bodily functions will continue to march on as you put in the mileage. When it’s time to go number two – as it inevitably will be – there are a few simple guidelines and items needed to successfully defecate outside. For this activity you’ll need: toilet paper or wet wipes, a small trowel, a waste disposal bag (sometimes optional, but we’ll get to that later), and hand sanitizer.

When doing the deed is at hand, the first step is to find a suitable spot. Experts recommend you find something at least 200 feet from a water source, as rivers and lakes often have enough problems as it is without your added contributions. That and 200 feet from your campsite, kitchen, and the trail keeps you from, shall we say… sharing your experience.

Once you find a spot that meets these qualifications, use your trowel to dig yourself a hole at least six inches deep and at least 4 inches wide. If the ground is too hard to dig a hole, move a rock over and that will be your spot – though if this is the case, you should seriously consider just packing your waste out. Situate yourself over the hole by squatting or, if you’re going for bonus points, a log that you can rest your haunches on.

When you’re done, wipe using as little TP as humanly possible. TP can be buried, but if you are using a wet wipe you should pack that out because they don’t decompose. The spent wiping apparatus can be placed in a freezer grade zip-top bag that is covered in duct tape and clearly marked for disposal later. Cover up your business with earth or replace that rock that you moved over earlier. Use some hand-sanitizing gel to clean your hands. Remember, just because you’re outside doesn’t mean all personal hygiene gets thrown to the wayside.

Voila! You’ve successfully pooped outside!

A quick word on packing out your waste: Yes it’s gross, but in some places it must be done. It will depend on what activity you’re undertaking. For example, rafters and multi-pitch big wall climbers have to pack out. It will also depend on where you’re going; the landscape might be sensitive to the waste or the area might be heavily trafficked and can’t support that much human waste. Check with the land managers where you are going regarding whether human waste needs to be packed out. They will often provide you with the needed materials to get it done.

By Erica Johnson

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