The First S: Sanitation
by the Staff of 4Low Magazine
Land Use is more than keeping our trails open; it’s also about taking care of our trails when we’re there. This is not one person’s job, and you can’t abdicate your responsibility because someone else is monitoring or educating others. This job is on you and everyone else in your party.
Go before you know. Seriously, we all know our body needs and rhythms. Take the time to use the toilet before you head out to the trail. If you can’t wait, pun intended, plan to clean up after yourself. Those Leave No Trace principles should absolutely be applied here.
You can use a WAG bag – it stands for Waste Alleviation and Gel – anyway, a WAG bag is great in a bucket or bumper-dumper; just remember to dispose of it properly.
If going outside, think about these things.
Urine will get absorbed, so pee in soft soils, not on granite, and not on vegetation either, if you can help it. Peeing on leaves attracts critters who think you’ve salted a buffet just for them; This encourages defoliation. So, step aside and use the dirt. Make sure you are off the trail, preferably by 200 feet. If you gotta wipe – I’m talking to the girls here – you should, apparently drip-drying leads to UTI’s. But anyway, use a pee-kerchief (aka bandana) and dry it in the sun. These are reusable until you get home – the sun is great for killing germs. If you are using toilet paper, you’ve got to pack it out.
Take two ziplock bags, wrap one in duct tape so you can’t see through it, and use that for used TP. The clear one can hold your clean TP. You could use baby wipes the same way.
Poop is a whole ‘nother story – everybody listen up! The minimum distance off the trail is 200 feet, away from camp or water sources. If there’s a toilet, by all means, use that. If not, take a shovel, trowel, or tent stake with you to dig a cat hole. 6” to 8” deep, square up over that, and do your business. If you use TP or leaves or moss, or whatever – you have two choices, and two choices only. Drop it in the hole with your waste and cover it all up – or pack it out. Leaving it anywhere visible is NOT ok. No one likes an unnatural flower bloom on the trail.