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Sitting pretty

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Sitting pretty

Postby balzaccom » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:47 am

On our last trip to Sequoia/Kings Canyon (SEKI) we visited a few lakes that get a little more traffic than is usual in the backcountry. Every area deals with this in a different way, since that additional traffic has three major impacts on the wilderness experience. One of those is the toilet facilities. Too many backpackers can have a very ugly impact on a heavily used campsite area. So in a few places in the backcountry, you'll find a vault toilet. It's not exactly our idea of wilderness, but we understand the problem, and we don't have a better solution.

We were particularly taken with this toilet at Twin Lakes in SEKI. It was certainly not your traditional vault toilet, and M was quite sure she we never find it easy to use...but still; nice effort. And a lovely view from the throne.

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Re: Sitting pretty

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:38 am

Many locations have them and many that need them do not. The wilderness act does allow for man made structures in the wilderness if they can be shown to improve the wilderness so a toilet is an easy sell under those terms.

Many of the toilets though are very old metal seats that are very small for a big guy. And yes many are hard to use. The one at Hamilton Lake this year was really out of level where you had to sort of fall onto it.

I certainly love having them. Out of everything difficult in the backcountry to me by far the worst is squatting down and doing the dirty deed. I'll plan my day around getting to pass by a toilet and make use of it. Even after 3 months in the wilderness my legs never seem to get used to the squatting position for long periods of time.

I did come across the perfect down tree this year that had a curved branch into a seat and another branch as a back rest. It was a perfect natural toilet seat. On the other hand getting a bit more crude in Goddard Canyon I went way up the hillside and found that many had the same idea. Along with all the TP flying around I found a spot where a person sat on a large log with his ass hanging over the end leaving a brown mess down the log. The point is i'm not sure how a person manages to balance themselves on a log like that for any period of time. And so much for getting it underground.

Unfortunately the Forest Service does not build any of them at all even though many places need them such as Blayney Hotsprings and Iva Bell Hotsprings. So you will only ever be lucky enough to find one in the National Parks.
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Re: Sitting pretty

Postby oleander » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:14 am

Hey! I recognize that toilet!

Anyone know why some of the toilets have actually been removed from the backcountry? That is what I understand about at least one of the vault toilets on the Mt. Whitney trail.

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Re: Sitting pretty

Postby Cross Country » Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:05 pm

When seeing a toilet I always felt like I wasn't far enough into the backcountry. I don't remember ever thinking that squatting was difficult or inconvenient. The only thing I remember about BP that seemed difficult was hiking, particularly hiking up a trail with a pack on my back. As many here know I almost never found a trail I liked (at least going up hill). I found going cross country uphill with a pack usually very interesting to exciting. Picking my route so involved me.
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Re: Sitting pretty

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Sep 24, 2012 2:29 pm

There are reasons why a toilet might be removed. In most cases it would probably have to do with man power. The toilets typically have to be moved and redug either every year or every few years. That task is not going to be the favorite of any trail crews for sure and you never know where the budget is at.

Whitney toilets are a completely different issue and worth reading up on as it gives insight into ever changing management of wilderness especially very crowded wilderness.
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Re: Sitting pretty

Postby quentinc » Mon Sep 24, 2012 3:21 pm

The Whitney toilets, even though solar, stank to high heaven. I don't know how anyone could camp at the upper campsite; it was like being next to a cattle yard. Now that they have the mandatory Wag bags, I assume NFS decided things would be better without the toilet. Hard to argue with that.

I think they also removed the one on the JMT, just above Vidette Meadow, or maybe I just didn't notice the sign the last time I was through there. At least that one was sort of hidden in the forest.

I agree with CrossCountry on these -- I hate to see them, although I can understand why they're there in some places.
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Re: Sitting pretty

Postby Jimr » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:51 am

I wish more people used wagbags. It makes sense given the volume of hikers. It is especially convenient in the high country where it could take you all day to dig a 6" hole and you don't want to find a pile of poop and paper under every rock.

on a side note. I'd forgotten this, but when the SAR guys that I met this year decided to set-up camp, the first thing they did was ask me where my toilet was. Now that's a seasoned approach.
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Re: Sitting pretty

Postby MountainMinstrel » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:08 pm

balzaccom wrote:
We were particularly taken with this toilet at Twin Lakes in SEKI. It was certainly not your traditional vault toilet, and M was quite sure she we never find it easy to use...but still; nice effort. And a lovely view from the throne.

Image


It's good being the king!


Hey that one is at least enclosed on two sides. This one in Paradise valley has no walls at all :eek: But it does have a great view. :D

Image
Just an old musician who loves the Mountains.
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