Since you’re seeing this on a computer screen, you’re obviously a member of a privileged part of the world population, the part that has bathrooms. We live in a society with toilets and they’re all accompanied by a nice roll of soft toilet paper. There’s nothing to think about, we do our little duty and wipe and flush. This is a delightful convenience we’ve created. But it’s separated us from what should be a very simple bit of outdoor know-how. Believe it or not, many boys (and men) refuse to go on a long backpacking trip only because they are psychologically unprepared to squat and take care of business behind a bush.
Mankind has been pooping in the woods since we climbed down out of the trees, and in historical time, toilet paper (TP) is a pretty recent invention. In fact, many people on this planet have never even seen TP. Why, then, are so many campers so dependent on toilet paper? I would have to guess that they either haven’t used anything other than the store bought stuff on a roll or they’ve had bad luck with natural wiping material in a moment of need.
Get all the information you ever want or need in this great white paper called Toilet Paper Free Expeditions from Backpacking Light (Published with permission from Backpacking Light.)
Read up on the subject and get used to the idea. With so many people going into the woods these days, steps have to be taken. The new backpacker rules at Yosemite require hikers to carry out their used toilet paper. I have not yet been asked by a ranger to show mine, but that day is coming soon. My recommendation is to start transitioning your unit to toilet paper free expeditions soon. (And don’t let anyone leave “moisturized wipes” behind. They are worse than toilet paper on the pollution scale and not very manly anyway.)
Catholes should be at least 200′ away from lakes, streams, and trails, and should be at least 100′ away from your camp. After finding a suitable location, dig a shallow hole about 6″ deep, piling the excavated soil adjacent to the hole. It should be deep enough to cover what you leave behind, but still, be located in organic material which speeds decomposition. Do your business, stir any toilet paper into it so it does not blow away later, and cover everything with the dirt you dug out. If there are loose rocks available put one on top as a warning to later arrivals. Then use Purell on your hands before returning to camp.
This video about going to the bathroom in the woods is just too good not to share with your unit. It was made and shared by Kenneth Kramm. Try watching it together and see if you can get through it without cracking up. Do not try this at home.