So You Pooped on the Trail. What Now?
A hiker makes a Leave No Trace confession, and we're here to dole out penance—and a piece of advice.
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“I was on a solo hike a few weeks ago and, well, I really had to go. There was just no time—I crapped right next to the trail. I feel really bad.” –Incontinent in Idaho
We’ve all been there. We go out into the woods to follow one call of nature, and sometimes another hits before you can do much more than drop trou.
Since you’re writing in, we assume you fled the scene of the crime without, er, disposing of the evidence. We know the number-one rule of trowels as well as you do (the trowel touches dirt—only dirt), but this is an emergency. Dig yourself a 6- to 8-inch hole as far from the trail as you can reasonably get (70 steps is the recommended minimum; make sure you’re also that far from water sources). If you need to, get creative with leaves, sticks, or rocks to perform the relocation (plastic bags work too, but pack them out).
Fail to do this, and you’re taking a few risks: Critters could get into your leftovers (gross), other hikers could stumble upon—or in—them (super gross), or surface runoff could wash your waste into drinking water, contaminating it (super gross and unhealthy).
If someone walks by during your operation, blame it on a dog and grumble loudly about irresponsible pet owners. And if you find this happening to you often, we recommend a WAG bag. And maybe a trip to the GI doc.
Trail dumps are a pretty big no-no, so we prescribe a volunteer day at your local trail. Sign up, reflect on how much you appreciate a sweet-smelling footpath, and relieve yourself responsibly from here on out.