OK, somewhat of a nasty story, but it has a point.
A couple of guys are in the backwoods on some sort of a hunting trip. This is in a public area, not anyone’s private property. There are no public facilities (outhouses) available, and they’re pretty much traveling with what they can carry on their backs.
One of the guys has to relieve himself. So he goes behind some bushes, makes a “deposit” and then does something quite curious. He gets a bag, scoops up his mess, then tosses the stinky package down the hill.
Let me just say, there’s nothing right about this. But it does bring up some interesting thoughts about proper backcountry behavior.
Just what exactly do you do with your bodily waste?
Hard to say one rule fits all. But there are some good ways and some bad ways about dealing with your “business.”
If you don’t have a camper with a toilet and your campsite doesn’t have an outhouse or a restroom handy, then this is a problem you’re going to have to deal with.
Whatever your do, one rule remains steadfast: Never relieve yourself near a trail, route or water source. Try to keep your business at least 100 yards away from these places. No one wants to step in your mess, reach for a handhold and get a handful or your leavings, or try to filter water from a place where you’ve left your mark.
If you have to go, pick a place off trail to urinate. For No. 2, do the same. But prepare your site first. Dig a small hole. Do your business there, then cover up the hole. Find a stick that could not be mistaken for a sapling and plant it in the ground. What you’ve done is made a “cathole,” and the stick lets others know not to step there, sit there, put a tent there, etc.
These guideline aren’t universal, however. Some people insist on following the Leave No Trace ethic of backwoods behavior. One of the rules of Leave No Trace is to pack out everything you pack in. And for some, that includes human waste. In this case, a sealable plastic bag is used, which is in turn stored in a container that will not leak or break when packed away.
Sounds gross, but this is the surest way to minimize human impact in the wild.
This gets even stricter in more extreme environments. If you’ve done any big wall climbing where the effort might take a day or two, packing out also includes disposing of any urine. Needless to say, peeing off a ledge on Yosemite’s El Capitan might not be the best way to make friends to the climbers below you. Again, sounds extreme, but you wouldn’t want to be on the other end of that deal.
Some might argue that animals don’t bother being careful with what they do. But the whole purpose of setting aside wild places is to keep them wild. Even the smallest traces of human activity can disturb wild ecosystems. Certainly, the “fling and forget” story I opened with is a flagrant abuse of our natural resources.