Ok. So. I’ve been doing an insane amount of reading in prep for my thru-hike on the AT next year. Like many things, it’s a true ‘rabbit hole’ of information; maps, weather, gear, resupply, day trips, shuttle runs, water filtration, on and on and on…
One of the biggest topics of trail talk is the potty issue. Style and technique is hotly debated among women AND men but it all boils down to this: Does a hiker sh*t in the woods? Yes.
During the seemingly infinite planning of the structure and up keep of the 2,200 mile trail, someone forgot to include the idea of the ‘elimination station’. While most established campgrounds provide toilets of some sort and shelters may have a compost toilet, the majority of the trail for the average thru-hike is absent of those porcelain gods.
This leaves the only alternative and that’s the cat hole concept. The thought of dropping trou in an area filled with passers by, wildlife and little critters may not be everyone’s cup-a-joe, but it is a reality of hiker life. Like the book says, ‘Everyone Poops‘. To get in the right mindset, it helps to adopt the hiker mentality of ‘let it all hang out’. that comes in very handy in these rather ,*sigh*, crappy situations.
The back side of the topic is: Paper? No paper? Drip dry? Pee rag? (i’ll let you google that one). While it is certainly a matter of personal preference, serious hikers adhere to the ‘Leave No Trace‘ pop protocol principles and pack out what they pack in and that includes the paper. Hey, nothing is perfect.
Due to, eh hem, logistics, women’s ability to urinate to relieve themselves poses a special acrobatic style of positioning. Even the seasoned hiker has had an accident a time or two and ended up trekking through the forest with damp drawers. There are a few devices that enable a female to eliminate man style and while these may be an oogey topic of conversation, women hikers are not afraid to get into the nitty gritty of the process and most swear by them. Bottom line (pun intended): You’ve simply got to ‘go with the flow’