High on the Mountain Top
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada.
Interest: general mountaineering/ hiking/ backpacking/ skiing/ kayaking
Dealing with your own poo is a subject that people seem to avoid, as in "out of sight, out of mind". Everybody is into "leave no trace" and "leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures", but nobody mentions poop. On different outdoor forums there can be pages devoted to no bolting, no flagging tape, or no trail trimming, but nothing on leaving a turd behind.
I've noticed that very popular trails like to the Golden Hinde or heavily used camping spots like the Frog Pond near Comox Glacier have become pretty crappy. Parks doesn't have the funds to put in outhouses, or to fly the poop out, so they just turn a blind eye.
Beach hiking can be, just poop below the current high tide line and let the incoming waves deal with it, but on very popular routes like the West Coast Trail or the Nootka Island Trail you might find a bit of toilet paper between your toes after wadding barefoot in the ocean.
The Broken Group has composting toilets that seem to be working OK, but they're the exception. Some other beach destinations, like Vargus Island or Flores Island have outhouses dug in above the winter high tide line.
Camping on snow or glaciers is a bit problematic. We've dug pits in the snow in winter, then wonder where all the crap came from in the summer melt. Dropping your poop down a crevasse works, but it all eventually flows downhill. Not a problem on less visited glaciers, but in popular places can become a real mess. On Mt Baker and other popular mountains, you are required tp pack your poop out. We found that putting on 5 day mountaineering courses on Mt Baker, there was no problem packing our poop out. Just triple bag it and get over the "gross" factor.
A friend went on a Colorado River rafting trip. They used metal ammo boxes that sealed up real tight. He said that by the end of the trip, in the hot sun, the sealed boxes sides bulged and looked explosive.
I hear some big wall climbers use "poop tubes", 6 inch diameter PVC pipes, with a glued cap on one end and a screw cap on the other.
I don't really have the answer for taking a dump in the backcountry, but we should all be aware of where our shit ends up, including our every day deposits.