Beginner Skills

Leave No Trace Confessional: I Pooped in Front of an Audience

A forgotten WAG bag leads to a smelly situation on Mt. Whitney.

“When my dad and I climbed Mt. Whitney, we carried WAG bags. But he thought he could hold it—until, on the descent, his situation became dire. He dropped his pack and bolted behind a rock. To my horror, I saw we were 100 feet above Trail Camp, where all the people had a clear view of his business. He returned with a look of shame—he’d forgotten his WAG bag and, embarrassed by the audience, he fled as quickly as possible.” –Distraught Daughter

Dear Distraught,

Let’s hope he didn’t leave TP there, too. We’re tempted to let your dad’s (and your) shame be all the penance he owes here, but Trail Camp is a busy place, as you will likely never forget. Fragile alpine environments are especially vulnerable to the impacts of human waste. Leaving your poo on the surface can spread bacteria and contaminate water sources—plus, it’s just plain gross for whoever wanders behind that boulder next. (Thankfully, the turd has probably dried up and blown away by now.) Your dad’s mistake could have easily been reversed on the spot: He should have returned to the scene with his WAG bag and packed out the mess. The crowd might even have cheered.

Your Penance: Pass this message along to your dad: Arm yourself with plenty of plastic bags and visit a trail popular with dog owners. Hopefully, if you pick up enough doodoo, you’ll realize it’s not so bad, especially when it’s your own.

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