It is inevitable that one day we will all take the lonely walk toward that metaphoric white light.
Fearing the reaper, but possibly with cowbell in hand.
The fact is, we all gotta go sometime.
But, today, I speak of an inevitability of life, which comes in a completely different form—and smell—although sometimes they do come together.
I speak of a somewhat sensitive personal topic, with which I hope to avoid the stench of sophomoric bathroom humor. Well, mostly.
So, I am not talking about the ultimate end of the trail which we all face someday, which signals the ultimate end of our travels.
No, I am talking about the completely normal and necessary human function, euphemistically known as Going Number Two.
Or Taking a Dump, or Dropping a Deuce, or Letting Loose a Bowel Bomb, or Shooting Out a Sewer Pickle, or Backing the Big Brown Motorhome Out of the Garage, or Releasing a Sewer Snake, or Unleashing Turdzilla, or…
As funny as the topic might seem to some, taking care of “our business” as we partake in adventure travel can, in fact, be often daunting.
Our activities commonly involve trekking far, far away from those tidy toilets, to places where a hole in the floor constitutes the place to go..
No commode in the abode, so to speak.
And sometimes, no toilet paper, either.
This is not to say, that having to go while we are gone doesn’t sometimes get done in the most relaxing and beautiful places on the planet.
If you appreciate the stark setting and ceaseless skies of the desert, you can only hope to find facilities as scenically situated as this structure set many miles from the nearest paved road, way out in Saline Valley, south of Death Valley.
This remote area of developed hot springs and low flying military fighter jet sorties used to be under the jurisdiction of the BLM, which imposed very few, if any, restrictions, including where you wished to camp and how you relieved yourself.
Of course, not all wilderness locations are quite so liberal in such allowed activities, including human waste disposal.
Years ago, Number Two Daughter and I set off to climb Mt. Shasta. A few days before the planned Big Climb, we made a warm-up hike to Helen Lake at over 10,000’.
After we parked at the base parking lot, we were issued a piece of equipment that I certainly never learned about in all my years in the Boy Scouts.
Due to the hordes of hikers making the mountain trek, regulations require you to literally pack out what you packed in, including what you carried up in you.
Back then, the chosen removal method was…and I am not making this up…you placed a paper target on the ground, which you could hopefully hit with some accuracy. Yes, there were points granted for your aim.
Heaven help anyone on the shy side, as there was virtually no place affording any form of privacy. With your fellow hikers passing nearby, it made going in public a difficult proposition for some, not to mention any fibbing as to your poop-on-the-paper score.
Nothing to see here…move along…
Full Disclosure: Luckily for myself, my daughter, and the other outdoor enthusiasts, I was able to pack out ALL of my contents intact and in the form I carried them in.
Another wilderness adventure venue requiring unusual methods of ridding oneself of that which must be ridden of, is whitewater rafting rivers with limited camping sites, where, if we all went at will, we would really be stuck up shit creek without a place to put our paddle, or anything else.
The first time someone told me the toileting technique mandated by the United States government was to first pee in the river and then poop in a metal ammo box (the infamous “grover”), which would be packed, along with our food stuff for the entire trek…well, I thought they were joking. They were not.
As you can see, the grover is often placed in a scenic spot of the river camp, which occasionally allows you to wave at other rafting groups as they pass by.
No worries; as I began this story, everybody knows that everybody else has to go sometime.
Not all of our travels involve beautiful, remote outdoor locations. That includes commercial airliners we take to get to those desired places.
I would much prefer to poo in a small metal box or attempt to hit a paper target while hovering in full view of dozens of others, than sitting in a cramped, stinky airborne bathroom during a 12-hour flight of heavy use.
You can only hope that while the plane jerks and jostles in air turbulence, everything stays down while you are stuck in there.
The only thing worse than that is doing it in a space of similar size and smells, that not only jolts up and down, but tips over at steep angles, as is the setting in a sailboat out in the open ocean. One minute you have both feet flat on cabin floor, the next you have one foot high on the wall as the boat violently heels over.
You think hitting a stationary paper target is problematic? Try hitting a hole that moves in every possible direction. And you think sailors wear those waterproof slickers for what happens outside the boat cabin.
Stories of having to poo in public, or while using facilities that move wildly, make me yearn for those quiet, pastoral places, where an old log laying out in the woods provides all the support I need to do what must be done.
Unless your karma is as mine once was, where the log happened to be mid-slope and rotten. As I sat back, the weathered old log snapped under the weight of my ample arse, and over I went, rolling down the hill with my pants at my ankles.
But, with good commode karma, maybe you will be lucky and find a secluded spot out in the middle of the woods with almost all the comforts of home.
Mind the splinters.
And, the species of native vegetation you might use lacking proper paper products.
Hey, its called adventure travel for good reason.
(Note: No plants were molested, nor air quality fouled, during the filming of this staged reenactment.)