Dispose of Waste Properly
Proper use of cat holes for disposal of human waste is probably the activity most associated with Leave No Trace principles and one of the most important to master.
Participants will be able to poop in the woods without leaving a trace.
10 minutes for discussion, 5 minutes per person in each team to dig a hole.
Participants will be able to:
- Locate and dig an adequate cat hole
- Dispose of toilet paper correctly
- Fill in a cat hole correctly
Materials - for each team
- Hand trowel
- Toilet paper
- Does anyone worry about stepping in piles of poop when backpacking?
- Knowing how, when, and where to go makes for a less stressful trek.
- Start by asking what participants would do before leaving the trailhead on a weekend backpacking trek. Guide them around to the topic of using the bathroom before they hit the trail. By 'planning ahead' there is a good chance they won't even need to do any more than pee for the entire short trip.
- But, on longer trips, the call of nature will require relief. There are a few specific places where other disposal methods are preferred, but the most commonly accepted method is to bury the poop in a cat hole.
- Demonstrate the particulars of a cat hole:
- 6-8 inches deep - needs to be in the organic soil of the area to break down the waste.
- Preserve the top chunks of soil to place back in place.
- Put used toilet paper down in the hole or pack it out.
- Mixing the waste with soil can help it decompose faster.
- Some people mark the spot with a stick, others prefer to leave it natural.
- There's nothing like practice to make perfect, so have everyone locate, dig, and cover a hole.
- Where should cat holes be dug? (200 feet from camp, water, and trail. In organic soil - forest floors rather than sand or mineral soil.) What about above timberline? (Soil is seldom deep enough so packing out waste is better.)
- When is the best time to go? (Dusk is still light enough to see but more private. Early morning might be cold.)