Alright, people come on, it’s completely natural, it’s a healthy habit. Part of camping is the occasional relief of all that freeze-dried strawberries and trail salami. There’s no need to be a wild animal about it, or even shy away from the subject of proper disposal, so here for you today are some things to keep in mind the next time you need to poop in the woods.
Know The Protocol
The proper disposal of feces on the trail is a bit of a process. Without some general guidelines you risk leaving behind a befouled campsite and of attracting creatures. Often times, they’re hungry enough to explore even the nastiest of foods. Find a nice secluded spot at least 200 feet away from any trails, water sources, or campsites. Try to find a spot far enough away that no one is going to accidentally find your buried treasure.
Once your spot is secured, dig a cathole with a backpacking trowel, shovel, or your hands. This hole should be no less than 6 inches deep by 4 inches wide. Once the hole is dug, do your business, and wipe with a natural material (leaves, pine-cone, flat rock). When all is said and done, bury your compost and wash your hands. Congratulations, you are now a true outdoorsman/woman.
Why the Fuss?
One of the worst things to encounter on a trail is improperly disposed of human waste. Taking care of your business is good camping karma for the rest of your journeys. Improperly disposed human waste is a product of many unnatural, synthetic, and processed inputs (Ramen noodles, Snickers bars, Funyuns, etc.).
As appalling and unappetizing as the output may seem to a human’s palate, other creatures may not feel the same way. They may be attracted to any scent you may leave sitting around near your campsite. Not only does this put wildlife in danger, but it can also endanger you as well.
Running on a backed-up engine is a great way to stall out halfway through your trip. Regularity is also a good way to determine hydration needs and overall health. If everything is operating smoothly, then keep at it. If things are getting backed up or going about with a lot of fuss, then re-evaluate your eating habits–maybe drink some more water. Once your load is lightened, you will be astonished of the lightness above your feet, and by keeping constant (and not constipated) you’ll be able to go for the long haul.
Know Before You Go
The “cathole” method described above is the most common default method to poop in the woods. With that said, it doesn’t necessarily apply to every campsite. Areas with a strict pack-it-in, pack-it-out regulations, or areas where digging a hole isn’t an option (deserts, glaciers, etc.), other methods may need to be applied. Do your research before you go, pack the necessary equipment, and feel good to know you’re free to go when you need.