Monday, April 11, 2011

True Scoop on Cat Holing

During my long hikes I've developed some easy and cautionary tales of cat holing: where you dig a 6 inch hole, give or take, for the down loading and disposal of personal waste.

No, I have never ever ever carried it out.

Bears, bison, elk, deer, fox, wolves, raccoons, dogs, turkeys, mice, squirrels all make deposits in the forests. Check out horses and cattle in wilderness areas. Their waste is considered natural fertilizer.
Humans can carry parasites, bacteria and viruses which are specie specific, so do it right and no one's the worse for wear. Nature will break it down, and all will be well.

Rules of responsible cat holing include a minimum of 100 yards from any water source, 6 inches deep and covered with degradable material, use simple unbleached t-paper, as little as possible. If necessary (due to a bout with town induced diarrhea) use broad leaves which you are certain are not poison ivy or oak.

Albert Einstein wrote in 1879 :Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.
I love him, he's a genius whose teachers thought him a failure in kindergarten.

My simple procedure on the Appalachian trail is get the body used to a routine where by either early morning before leaving the shelter, with accompanying privy, or after supper before bedding down, try to use the outhouse. The body can establish routines which greatly diminish the need for a cat hole.
On the AT, its a lot more crowded, so be sure to go way off trail, in a hidden spot, and dig responsibly.

On the Pacific Crest Trail or Colorado Trail, lots of nice pine or cedar forests with huge trees can be found. These trees have no poison vines climbing them, and a soft earth beneath their wide spreading branches. Its easy to dig required depth near the trunk, and you can brace yourself when squatting. I use hiking poles for quick excavation.

A teen age girl taught me this one: find a downed log, sit on it with your butt hanging over the side. A very nice chair, but check for snakes with the pole or branch, dig a receptacle first, and don't forget to cover it when done.

A warning: if you have to go far off trail for privacy, be sure to remember the way back. Once a person, we won't name names (yours truly) headed back in the wrong direction, her camp mates having dropped the tent. No signs of humanity to guide her, she was reduced to yelling out loud for directions. Needless to say, that never happened again.

I know people who claim to never have shat in the woods. They somehow hold it til they reach town. If that is true, either they are way compacted, so unhealthy, or else they never were out very long.

Happy holing.

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