Human Waste Disposal - current thinking | High Sierra Topix  

Human Waste Disposal - current thinking

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!

Human Waste Disposal - current thinking

Postby strollinbones » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:01 am

Greetings,
My buddy and I found ourselves in a "discussion" in which the topic was what to do to properly attend to those things that we, shall we say, leave behind?

I contend that the appropriate thing to do is pack out used TP (double ziploc for maximum safety) rather than bury it in the cat hole. He claimed that it breaks down quickly and can be left behind. We also argued a bit about depth of hole and nearness to water. I said 8 inches or more deep, and 50 yards from water.

Anyone out there have a somewhat expert opinion on this?

I know it's a bit off-color, but these things matter. And I want to make him buy me a beer.

thanks,
SB



User avatar
strollinbones
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon May 09, 2011 11:18 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Human Waste Disposal - current thinking

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:26 am

I had a recent energetic discussion about this with Rangers recently. They said they wanted me to pack out the toilet paper. I said I would burn it. They said oh no no, you must pack it out. I said can I burn pine needles? (Yes) Twigs? (Yes) Dead-fall? (yes) Toilet paper? (What? No!) Why, in the name of all that is rational, not!? What is the difference!? I got no real answer other that it was a Rule And Rules Must Be Obeyed.
Well, I don't have fires anyway, sooooo...
I did an experiment some years ago. I went to a particular spot in the backcountry and crapped in the woods burying it in the order of pee, TP, crap and fill the hole in with dirt and then a bit of no-trace camo. I marked the location in a way only I would recognize. I did this a few times in a few places. The next year I came back and dug up those spots. Results: I found nothing except one small 1/4 square of severely thinned and decayed TP, and that was it.
The real problem is that animals, in particular deer, who will dig it up and scatter the TP if it is not well soaked. (I will refrain from telling you what the deer do with it all.) If a deer is watching you intently when you head off into the woods with a shovel, shoo away the deer.
I say, if you have fires, burn your TP. It is the rational thing to do.
Doyle W. Donehoo
Sierra Trails:
http://www.doylewdonehoo.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
User avatar
DoyleWDonehoo
Founding Member
 
Posts: 480
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Experience: N/A

Re: Human Waste Disposal - current thinking

Postby maverick » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:33 am

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 9237
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 4:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Human Waste Disposal - current thinking

Postby rcymbala » Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:04 pm

Thanks to doctor Ken Murray for the following. I heard him speak at Adventure 16 in W. Los Angeles (on Pico). He referred to a scholarly paper published on a website (I can't remember but I saw it once) that studied the longevity of organisms in human waste according to different methods of disposal (i.e., NOT packing it out). The fastest time, two (2) days, your brownish solid human waste is biologically dead if it is left in the open air under the sun. You fry it, it dries up, and 2 days later there's no chance that some critters from inside you will make it into the groundwater and possibly affect others on down the slope. The problem with burying it is, surrounded by soil, not only do organisms stay alive longer in the the cooler, moister environment, but they have direct access to the groundwater which, of course, begins at the soil level. This is a descrip of Ken's talk from a Facebook page:

"""There are places that have been lost to memory, or that nobody talks about. Places that people come across that are mysterious and without explanation. Places that baffle, that challenge possibility. That are not described in any guidebook. These are the Secret Places. Rangers know about them and Ranger Ken Murray shares the oral tradition of these secrets. Some are on maps in plain sight. Some you can take pictures of. Some will bring back memories of childhood. Can YOU keep the secrets?"""
User avatar
rcymbala
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:39 pm
Location: Topanga, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Human Waste Disposal - current thinking

Postby Scouter9 » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:25 am

I think the relative simplicity of a general rule(s) on burial and carrying-out TP is the smartest and most ecologically-responsible approach. Weird smearing ideas and sunlight theories, were they spread about, would only lead to a much higher incidence of piles of poop "just anywhere" (because they done heard the sunlight will clean it all up for them) and a run-up on the price of spatulas.

The last things I want to see in the wilderness is a pile of human poo or some hideous "icing" or scattered TP left by one or more variation of slobs. I'm sure that those who choose to do whatever the hell they want to have plenty of justifications for that, as we've seen above, but it's all crap to me. [-X
User avatar
Scouter9
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 150
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:23 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Human Waste Disposal - current thinking

Postby John Dittli » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:14 am

The "spread and cook" method is not new, as rangers, for a short time, we were doing that in the North Cascades back in the '80's. Theoretically it is good, in practice not so much. While many of the pathogens will be dead in a few days, it can take weeks for it to "blow away". Not exactly aesthetic when you consider the tens of thousands of yearly Sierra poopers. One might think they are leaving it in a place no one will see, but in the Sierra, chances are someone else will. I'm sorry to here people are still advocating that method as I believe it to be unaccepted (illegal) in the Sierra.

The preferred method is still 6" cathole preferably in soil with "organics" that will digest it (poop can last a long time in "sterile" soil (sand, DG). 100+ feet from water and if possible seasonal water courses.

As far as TP, if you use it, pack it out. As Doyle mentioned, Rangers don't like you burning it, namely due to the fact most don't burn it in a campfire, but here and there, by itself and incompletely. If you have a campfire, I seriously doubt any ranger would have issue with you burning your paper (paper is usually used to start a fire). If you do burn it, be sure your fire is hot! I threw some in a smoldering fire where the smoke promptly engulfed me. I returned home with a nasty respiratory infection that took weeks to clear.
Walk the Sky: Following the John Muir Trail
User avatar
John Dittli
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:38 am
Location: Crooked Creek
Experience: N/A

Re: Human Waste Disposal - current thinking

Postby Jimr » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:56 am

I have a strange system. It tends to take me three days to form a poop worth evacuating. Considering I mainly hike in high country where it is nearly impossible to find ground where a 6" hole may be dug, I choose to pack out all solids in a wag bag. The bag has desiccant in it and double bagged. I bag it again in a gallon size ziploc. It goes in my bear can along with the food wrapper baggie.

Many years ago, I used to use the flat rock method. I can't count how many times I've turned over a rock to find somebody else's toilet. I wish more people used wag bags. If you can haul it in as food, you can haul it out as compacted waste.
In our thirst for freedom, we must be careful not to drink from the cup of bitterness and hatred

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
User avatar
Jimr
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 1639
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:14 pm
Location: Redondo Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Human Waste Disposal - current thinking

Postby John Dittli » Fri Jun 07, 2013 8:00 am

Jimr wrote:I have a strange system. It tends to take me three days to form a poop worth evacuating. Considering I mainly hike in high country where it is nearly impossible to find ground where a 6" hole may be dug, I choose to pack out all solids in a wag bag. The bag has desiccant in it and double bagged. I bag it again in a gallon size ziploc. It goes in my bear can along with the food wrapper baggie.

Many years ago, I used to use the flat rock method. I can't count how many times I've turned over a rock to find somebody else's toilet. I wish more people used wag bags. If you can haul it in as food, you can haul it out as compacted waste.


Kudos to you! You set a fine example that we all should follow!
Walk the Sky: Following the John Muir Trail
User avatar
John Dittli
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:38 am
Location: Crooked Creek
Experience: N/A

Re: Human Waste Disposal - current thinking

Postby Tom_H » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:31 pm

I would like to suggest that the moderators merge this thread into the previous thread on the same subject (the one Mav linked above).
User avatar
Tom_H
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 628
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:11 pm
Location: Elk Grove, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Human Waste Disposal - current thinking

Postby SweetSierra » Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:38 am

Regarding Doyle's comment on deer digging up cat holes, my mystery is solved from last weekend's hike up Canyon Creek in the Trinity Alps. I went back to the place that I had used the day before and the hole was opened up and nothing was in it.
One of the worst places for the smear toilet that I've seen is at Lion Lake. Pretty much the only place to camp is near the outlet of the lake and there aren't many good places to bury waste. I explored a pile of boulders near my camp and found that many others had used it as a toilet by smearing and just pooping in between the rocks. It was disgusting.
I always pack out my toilet paper unless we've had a fire and then I burn it.
User avatar
SweetSierra
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 232
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 11:23 am
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests