Posts Tagged With: pottying in the woods

Pottying in the Woods: Part 3

No, we’re not done yet. Boy, how many times have you heard THOSE words through a closed bathroom door after sending your little one in there? So here we go, POOPING IN THE WOODS.

Fortunately, pooping is pretty much the same for boys and for girls, with the only stereotypical differences being in their willingness to comply. When I worked for the military and got to see my first open-bay bathroom (a room in many male barracks that contains twenty or so toilets, with no stalls, no doors, not even a fluttering paper towel to separate you from the guy pooping next to you), I was ready to run screaming from the Army base, let alone the room. That’s a big no… I’m not sitting close enough to high-five another human being while having a bowel movement. I’d be in the best physical shape of my life since I’d be running to the nearest gas station bathroom every time I had to poop.

I guess when the drill sergeant orders the men to potty, they either learn to potty or learn to love push ups. Oddly enough, the female barracks didn’t have this monstrosity of an open bay. It’s just one of those quirky things that makes us all different, right?

But all stereotypes aside, kids of both genders may either have zero problem pottying outside, or may really balk at the thought. I have two girls, but I got one of each in terms of “meh, no big deal, where’s a tree?” and “oh my dear lord I’ll just hold it ’til we reach civilization.”

So… pooping. In the outdoors…

This one’s a little more sensitive than peeing because it involves both contaminated human waste AND removing your clothes. That’s a daunting thing, so much that society even has a term called “caught with your pants down.” No one likes the thought of someone coming up on them at this sensitive time, so make very sure you’re in an isolated spot. You can also carry a jacket, shirt, or other long piece of fabric to tie around your waist and offer a little more privacy. Just remember that if any hiker comes up on you during this process, there’s a 98% chance she’s been in exactly your same position, quite possibly that same day. It’s natural, all humans do it. You guys just happen to be doing it in nature.

After tying your shirt around your waist (or not) and finding your secluded spot, again work the downhill so that nothing slides or rolls back onto your shoes. If you’re able to find an indention in the ground, that’s considered very polite because you can cover it with some rocks and leaves when you’re through. Be sure you’re not pooping into a convenient hole in the ground, since it’s quite possible a snake or other animal won’t appreciate the sudden arrival of waste in his den. When you’ve found a spot, it’s pants down, squat with your feet wide apart, and go.

But now that the hard part is over, the real fun begins.

There are (believe it or not) many schools of thought on what you should next. Most of these opinions come from die-hard hikers and adventurers and therefore aren’t as applicable to a mom and her kids out for a two-hour hike. The more avid outdoorsy people will spend months at a time through-hiking the Appalachian Trail, which means covering the entire distance from Maine to Georgia. That means how they poop and leave behind the evidence is of greater environmental impact. I just read that in 1990, almost 300 people actually hiked the entire ATC… that’s a lot of human poop, especially when you think about how many thousands of other people were just hiking parts of it.

Some die-hards will tell you that toilet paper is a thing of the devil and that you should never bring it with you. After all, leaves, rocks, and pine cones will suffice just fine (I wish I was kidding). Other hikers will tell you there’s nothing wrong with TP so long as you bring it back out with you. Yes… used. Still others will say that burying your TP or burning it is good enough.

My opinion? Well, using TP is a given unless it was a surprise potty attack. I’m not yer girl when it comes to wiping with a pine cone unless I’m only out there pottying in the first place because my plane has crashed and TP is the least of my survival worries. So I believe that after using a perfectly nice piece of TP, you should pack it out. Here’s why: it’s the least labor intensive version of the process (I promise I’ll show you how in a second) and you don’t risk burning down your local national forest. You’re also not trying to watch your kids hit each other with rocks while you dig a hole with your hands to put this used TP in. I’ll show you the Potty Pack in the next post, and trust me, you do not want to head outdoors–or walk out your front door, EVER–without these.

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Pottying in the Woods: Part 2

This installment is a great way to get our feet wet with wilderness pottying. Wait. Strike that. We do NOT want our feet wet while PEEING IN THE WOODS:

Boys… well, it’s a little more obvious how to handle this. You’ll treat it pretty much the same way you’ve covered their potty needs since they first got the hang of it. HOWEVER, don’t overlook the fact that you can’t just point your boy to the nearest tree and tell him to go for it. He will need to walk a respectful distance off the trail so as not to see-or-be-seen, and that will involve hiking off the path, potentially through ticks, spiders, snakes, unsteady rocks that can turn an ankle, and more. Help your son choose a spot away from the trail, but then stay nearby (back turning may be involved depending on your son’s age). The reason for sticking close is in case of snake bite, it helps the hospital immensely if you can describe the snake. If you send your son off to potty and only go looking for him after he screams or doesn’t come back, you can’t tell them what it looked liked.

Girls, this one’s a little tougher. If it’s seasonably warm, you have the easiest job in the world, especially if you’re wearing shorts. You simply find that same more remote spot, squat down, and pull the crotch of your shorts and undies aside. Make sure to pull them far enough that you aren’t actually peeing on the leg hole, not just because it’s no fun but because the rest of your hike will involve urine-soaked fabric rubbing against the spot where your leg and privates join. You will have raging blisters and possibly open sores from that. It’s important for everyone but especially girls to get the hang of the downhill, meaning the spot you select and the direction you face needs to be with the downhill going away from you so that your own pee doesn’t flood your shoes.

This is a tough one for girls/women to grasp, but we don’t actually have to have toilet paper after peeing. A good tushie wiggle to get any drips will suffice if this potty trip was unexpected. Simply stand up and let your clothes fall back into place. If the thought of not using toilet paper after peeing horrifies you, never fear, the next post will contain the instructions for a potty packet. Don’t forget your hand gel!

There is a product you can invest in that lets women pee more discreetly, even while standing up. It’s got mixed reviews, as you can see from this blog post.

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I Was Gonna Have to Talk about It Some Time: Pottying in the Woods

Whenever I talk outdoors fun with people who are unfamiliar, the conversation inevitably takes a strange, personal, halfway inappropriate turn. You can kind of see the look on their faces that tells you they want to ask a burning question, but then they don’t. Finally, I have to say, “I know what you want to ask me, it’s okay. Go ahead.”

My hapless victim will usually start to laugh and look sheepish and then finally stammer, “But how do you go to the bathroom?!”

When nature calls, and not just the call of a beautiful fall day in the mountains but the actual call of having to suddenly find a bathroom, how you’re going to react depends on a lot of factors. One of the most important factors is: what are you doing?

If you’re camping, are you at a state park or a back country spot? Because at a state park you go to the nearest bathroom. In the back country (a primitive campsite…be aware of those words “primitive camping” if you’re booking a trip to an actual campground, since they mean no amenities whatsoever), there’s an excellent chance it’s going to involve a tree for privacy.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably not ready to head off on an unsupported backpacking trip. Important note: if you’re heading off on an unsupported backpacking trip and are still having to Google “how to potty in the woods,” you’re also not ready for this trip yet. I’m already envisioning a cruel prank where a new boyfriend has duped you into primitive camping and you don’t know what to expect.

A more likely scenario is that you’ll be on a hiking day trip or kayaking on a creek with your kids and one/all of you will have to go. There are a few schools of thought on how to handle this type of crisis.

First, is it number one or number two? If it’s number one, you’re basically going to leave behind an almost-sterile liquid that will not cause any harm. If it’s number two, you’re going to leave behind a pile of human excrement for the next hiker to enjoy, along with some litter in the form of your toilet paper. More importantly, how you actually accomplish the pottying will differ based on whether it’s number one or number two.

In the follow-up posts, I’ll provide step-by-step, gruesomely detailed instructions on how to handle each of these, as well as how the steps are different for boys and girls. I’ll talk about handling squeamish kids who can’t do it in the woods, as well as give you instructions for making a potty packet. Enjoy!

Animals have zero qualms about pottying in the woods. This happens to be turkey poop.

Animals have zero qualms about pottying in the woods. This happens to be turkey poop.

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