Dealing with unmentionables in the woods

By Doug Williams
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Dealing with unmentionables in the woods

Doug Williams
 
 
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There is a belief that, while you are in the great outdoors, anywhere is a toilet. While this may be true in the case of urine, this is certainly not so for excrement. Respect for other users of the space is called for and common sense must be used. Uncovered poop is not a pretty sight, and it can also contribute to the spread of disease. One can, however, be dignified and hygienic in the woods.

The rules about pooping outside are very simple, and there are only two options. Either you bury the evidence or you pack it out. When you are summoned by the call of nature, you should walk at least 200 feet away from the encampment, the cooking area, and more importantly, the water source. Camp etiquette will also ensure some privacy.

The glamorous campground facilities…
The glamorous campground facilities…

The hole you dig should be at least six inches deep, so take the shovel with you. If you did not bring one on your hike, you can improvise with a tent peg or the like. Once you have done what you intended, wipe off using some of the surrounding vegetation which you must also bury. You will need to know the plant matter well enough, as some plants can cause irritation.

Any toilet paper used must be packed and taken back with you. Pack it in a ziplock plastic bag to avoid unpleasantness. The toilet paper could also be packed into a paper bag and burned after you have finished cooking on the fire. Using a stick to mix the poop up with the dirt will aid decomposition. Then refill the hole with soil and stomp it down.

With urine, the rules are less complicated. Urine is sterile, but it is better to keep it far from where you are staying, as it does begin to smell a bit nasty and insects may be attracted to it for the salty composition.

Answer calls of nature a good distance from drinking water
Answer calls of nature a good distance from drinking water

In the case of menstruating while you are hiking, this really does not need to be a problem. All used sanitary items can be packed out in zip lock bags. If you expect to be menstruating while hiking you could look into using a menstrual cup.

When all is said and done, always consider the other users of the environment, be they human or other species. Exercise good manners and common sense.

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