Originally posted on my (then) blog A Free-Spirited Woman in February 2012. Although I now have a bucket inside my van, back when I wrote this article I was living in Mitzi and didn’t have those kinds of luxuries. Naturally, there are still times that I’m out in the boonies, and this method of disposing of poo still makes more sense. Enjoy…
I just know you’ve all been waiting for me to cover this subject. Go on, admit it!
Well, first of all, I’m going to send you to here How to Poop in the Woods written by CB, on her blog ‘A Mountain Top High.’ She has covered all the basics, with humor, and very well I might add, and that saves me a lot of typing. (Okay, so I’m having a lazy day). However, so as not to disappoint you, I’m going to add a few of my own comments.
The first method that CB covers is ‘The Outhouse.’ Well, there aren’t any outhouses where I park most of the time (though BLM and National Forest are adding more and more), so that doesn’t always apply to me, except when I try to make it to an outhouse, or any toilet for that matter, in order to avoid having to go to method #2 on her list, which is THE BURIAL!
I do use the burial method when I’m hiking, and have learned a little trick that makes it easier. CB has a few suggestions for the burial method, on how to balance, aim etc. but I’ve found my own way to find the perfect balance and great aim. First I find a piece of bark or a big leaf, and then carry it over to the very best place to get good balance and comfort, and position the bark so that my aim cannot miss it. This way I can poop almost anywhere, and then carry the bark over to the cat hole, and scrape it off into the cat hole, or if it’s a very thin piece of bark (or a large leaf), bury the whole thing. (I think this is acceptable). Usually, the loose bark will scrape off with it so that nothing remains on the bark, and then it can be put back where it was in the woods (leave no trace). This has worked very well for me, especially when the only place I’ve been able to find ground soft enough to dig a cat hole in (it is the ROCKY Mountains) has been in the middle of a lot of very prickly plants. After disposing of my waste in this manner I ALWAYS pack out my toilet paper. I hate seeing Kleenex flowers in the woods, the people who leave their trash behind in the woods, and especially in the National Park, have no right to be anywhere near the woods at all. Stay in the city please and don’t bring your trashy habits to our woods!
Anyhow, that is what I do when I’m hiking or backpacking, except in the desert. Then, as CB explains, packing it out is the only way to go. The desert is so incredibly sensitive, and it doesn’t take much effort to leave a major scar behind if one isn’t careful. (Sometimes there are areas that are pure sand, with no cryptobiotic soil or plants, and I feel that it’s okay then. Just be responsible).
Fortunately, while I’m living in my car, I can pack it out. (Method #3 in CB’s post). When I get up in the morning, my first choice is to make it to a bathroom, but there are times it’s just not possible. For those instances, I try to keep a nice little stash of doggie doo-doo bags in what I call ‘my poop bag.’ It contains a roll of toilet paper, several doggie doo-doo bags, a Ziploc bag, and a trowel (just in case I miss the doo-doo bag). I get the doo-doo bags from any number of the dispensers dotted around town for the dog walkers to use. I then take my little bag of tricks into the woods and find a nice comfortable, and private place, where there are no plants or twigs sticking up right where I don’t want them, or the entrance to any homes such as ground squirrels, badgers etc.
The first step (being a woman), is to pee preferably in a separate spot from where I intend to do #2. That is because I don’t want to set the poop bag on top of the pee puddle because I have to carry it away afterward, and well, I want the outside of it to be dry, rather than wet with twigs and mud stuck to it. I also don’t want to trickle down the sides of the bag, while doing #2, so I pee first. (I don’t expect men to understand this, but women will).
I then balance in ‘the position’ (trust me, you develop special muscles for doing this after a while). Doing this the way I do it requires using both hands to hold the bag, so that leaves NO HANDS to help with balancing, so I use my knee to balance. I simply brace my knee against a rock or tree, and I’m able to stay balanced for quite a long time (strong ankles help also). I then take a doggie doo-doo bag handle in each hand, and position it under my rear end… just so, and poop right into the bag. It really saves a lot of work, seriously. I then clean up and add my toilet paper to the bag, tie a knot in it, grab my poop bag and return to my car.
When I first started ‘packing it out’ I would put the doggie bag into a plastic container in my car until I could get rid of it. The container is actually my pee bucket (which I would empty and wash out first, of course), and it has a tight lid. This seemed like a smart thing to do until I forgot about it once, and it sat in my vehicle for an entire day, in direct sunlight, in the middle of summer. It had to have reached 140 degrees or more in there that day, and when I opened my vehicle door that evening after work, the smell hit me hard! I quickly got rid of the offending stuff, in a trash can as far away from businesses and people as I could find, but no matter what I did I could not remove the smell from my toilet. It had permeated into the plastic so much that even bleach would not remove the smell. It took me a long time to get that container back to the point where I didn’t gag every time I used it. (Lot’s of fresh air, and many bleachings).
After that experience, I started tying the bag to the roof rack on my car. Those bags may be biodegradable, but they are tough! On the bag, it says ‘please dispose of thoughtfully,’ so I always try to dispose of the bag in a location that won’t be too offensive to other people. This means not dropping it in a trash can that is right by a park bench, or outside the ice cream shop. After I’ve tied the knot in the bag on top of my car, it is impossible to undo again, so I keep a very sharp knife to hand in the front of the car. On my way to the coffee shop in the morning, I pull over to a trash can, whip out the knife, slice off the bag (still tied at the important part), and dispose of it. I always tie it to the rack close to the driver’s seat, so that when I get out of my car I usually smell it, and that reminds me it is there. I NEVER want a repeat of that other experience.
I’m not too happy with the way I have to dispose of the baggies. I wish that there was a special incinerator available for this kind of thing, and for dog poop too, but there isn’t. Maybe that is something someone needs to invent.
And that just about sums up ‘How to poop in the woods’ from this woman’s experience.
And with that comment, I’ll leave you until next time…
Keeping the woods clean, trying to leave no trace, and being responsible,
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature & Photographer at Tranquil Light Photography
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