As the title implies this post is a dirty subject. I am a backpacker first and a paddler second. So the practice of handling feces in the outdoors is a natural practice.
Most of the places we paddle are sensitive environments. And we need to consider using the lowest impact practices when we go number two. So what do we do? Well the “Bubble Street” comic strip gives me an idea…
I know that the idea of packing out your human waste can be fairly (to completely) unpalatable but there is no doubt that it leaves the least impact of any other method of disposing of human waste. Both WAG Bags and Restops are both very sanitary options for packing out your human waste.
These two products work great. It so easy even my buddy Sean can use it. Granted he still grimaces at the idea.
It is a common piece of my kit that I have when I go out on the water.
We need to remember that the “improper disposal of human waste can lead to water pollution, the spread of illnesses such as giardia, and unpleasant experiences for those who follow”. Unfortunately when nature calls for you to move your bowels a public bathroom, outhouse, or other developed site is not redly available for human waste disposal.
I do not dig Cat holes during the day because I am surrounded by water. This is why I have WAG Bags or Restops in my day hatch. Granted some people hang their backside over the side. But the ocean is not our bathroom.
Sean like some of my other paddling friends still prefer to make a solid deposit in cat holes. The issue with that is it needs to be dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, animal trails, drainages, and away from cryptobiotic soil crusts. Look for organic soil under trees for a cat hole site.
“Bring a trowel to dig the hole, and disguise it well before leaving. Ideally, the microbes found in soil break down feces and the pathogens they contain, but in [dry sandy areas], this process happens very slowly, so make sure your cat hole site is well-hidden and buried deeply so it won’t be uncovered accidentally.”
I also have met a few paddlers that leave human waste under rocks or in alcoves. That is a stupid and lazy way to be clean. Because excrement will decompose slowly there.
If you dig a hole you still need to pack out the toilet paper and personal feminine hygiene products. Animals dig and will find these things. And everyone has found the white streamers. I recommend packing it out in a plastic bag with baby wipes to deodorizes the trash bag, and the wipes help you stay cleaner. If I use a cat hole I prefer to use natural wipes such as grass, river rocks, sticks, and snow. I am from Pittsburgh so snow does not bother me. If you choose to use natural toilet paper, bury it in your cat hole, and use some hand sanitizer.
Whether it is bagging out WAG Bags ,Restops, or bagged toilet paper I always place the items in a designated black dry bag with a car air freshener in the black dry bag for obvious reasons. I also put this bag in front of my feet within my cockpit. Some of my friends put their bag in a hatch near their food or cook kit. But I do not want to take the chance of cross contamination.
When I am outdoors I try my best to “take nothing by pictures, kill nothing but time, and leave nothing but a foot print” – Jeff