This really stinks...

1:20 a.m. on July 2, 2016 (EDT)
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Ok...this is the best title I could come up with...

When those of you set up a base camp where you have a large party, what do you do with your human waste?  Many sites say to pack it out, but for a large party that seems like it would be problematic at best.  I know that you can bury it in some places, but in dry climates that may not be the best option.  I know that bringing toilet paper can make the problem worse.  You could use a homemade sprayer as sort of a bidet.  However, when it comes to the solid waste and assuming you don't use TP, how can you dispose of it cleanly?  You of course do not dispose of it near streams or lakes.  It makes me think that you could did a hole and use plant matter in an attempt to compost it.  Maybe bring along some type of enzyme to put on top.  

I have always been curious about this, but I met someone that was planning a big group outing asked me what to do.  I thought I would dump this on you guys for ideas.  (sorry...I just had to say that)

Snakey

8:52 a.m. on July 2, 2016 (EDT)
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Bury it. I personally don't care what the rules are on this topic, I'm not going to take a chance of it busting By carring it out, Also I don't intend to mess up the landscape Nor everyone's drinking water. It really is frustrating when you see something like the land mine field I ran into at Vogle st park in Ga. Just what you want to walk into after a hike. Laying all over on top of the ground. A small hole off trail and covered take 2 seconds. 

9:26 a.m. on July 2, 2016 (EDT)
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The answer is really going to change depending on how many people, how long you will be staying in one place, the location and time of year. I'd start by checking local regulation and advised procedures because the locals know better than I do what causes problems and should be avoided.

Trench latrines are an option in some places for a large group which is better than landmining the whole area around your camp randomly. Location needs to be chosen to avoid water contamination. I've seen the USFS offering bacteria capsules to be dropped into catholes to speed up the breakdown of the waste. I'd imagine a group trench would be a great place to use something like that.

As for carrying waste out I haven't visited any area that requires that, but if they have such rules I'd imagine it is for good reason, usually too many poopers or not enough dirt. I do carry out my TP on cold weather trips because of my own dislike for seeing what others have left once the snow melts.

With more and more people going out into the woods it is important that they put a little effort into avoiding situations like John described down in GA.

11:38 a.m. on July 2, 2016 (EDT)
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First, go to https://lnt.org/  This is the Leave No Trace organization that has looked into the question over many years and in all types of situations.

If you are using catholes, whether for individual backpackers or groups, the hole should be a depth that leaves the droppings in organic soil. Sandy soil is generally sterile, so the feces do not decay.

Large groups are a big problem. One solution that is used with large groups here in Caifornia is to take a tent that is intended as an out-house. These are a bit hard to carry unless you are using pack animals (which create their own poop). They have the outer tent that is shaped like an outhouse, plus a foldup seat on which you hang a bag, in which you provide a chemical mix that speeds the breakdown. The bags are very sturdy. We use these with scout and other youth groups, and with the American Alpine Club "ClimbUnity" outings.

You can also issue kits from WAGBAG or ResTop (ResTop is one of the makers of the tent/outhouse). These bags are individual multi-layer bags that include the chemical. They are quite sturdy and intended for packing out.

Contrary to one of the posts above, there are many areas that require packing out, especially in winter or in glaciated areas. Most of the Cascades have that requirement ("Burying" in snow does not allow the feces to decay, but allows them to surface plus contaminating the snowmelt). In the Alaska Range, your party will be issued a cylindrical tube, called a "KleenCan", that is made for containing the material. Years ago, people just tossed the bags in the nearest crevasse -- until it was discovered that the glaciers move and the poop reappears farther down the glacier. Shasta and other Cascade mountains have bags to pick up at the trailhead with a trash can to deposit the used bags.

Years ago, the large group approach was to dig a large trench that would get covered over when breaking camp. This was found to not work well, with the feces reappearing in a year or two, thanks to animals unearthing it. Scattered small pits in organic soil work pretty well (typical depth that works is 6-8 inches and mixed with the organic soil during the burial process - a stick works well for mixing). 

In Peru, in the Cordillera Blanca, we use the tent-outhouse approach for the American Climber Science Program, but with a deep pit that gets covered when breaking camp. There is no stool, so you just squat over the pit and perfect your aim. This is the preferred approach by the Huascaran National Park.

As already mentioned, obviously pits should be be 100 feet or more from any water. Toilet paper should be packed out in all cases (use a zip-lok bag). It used to be that the suggestion was to burn the paper. That suggestion was dropped after a major wildfire in the mountains north of the Los Angeles Basin. There have been several other major wildfires here in Calif due to people burning their TP.

12:03 p.m. on July 2, 2016 (EDT)
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Bill and LoneStranger

what is yalls opinion in this situation one large hole that scars the landscape or multiple little holes spread out and covered? 

1:30 p.m. on July 2, 2016 (EDT)
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Like I said before John, the answers are situational, not one size fits all. There is a pretty good article here on TS on this subject. https://www.trailspace.com/articles/backcountry-waste-disposal.html


I agree with what is said there, that small, well dispersed individual cat holes are your lowest impact choice unless you are packing it out. That works well for small numbers who are on the move, but can be problematic for large groups staying in one place for an extended period of time. Trenching shouldn't be your first option and needs to be done in a way that minimizes the damage.

Personally if I needed to have a group camped in one spot for a while I think I'd look for a NFS group site that had latrines and avoid the problem, but thankfully a group of 3 is about as crowded as my trips get :)

3:37 p.m. on July 2, 2016 (EDT)
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I agree with LS that it depends on the situation.

Our ACSP expeditions (which involve environmental research as the main activity and are made up of avid and dedicated environmentalists) are extremely conscious of environmental damage.  The group size is typically 15-20 people, and the work is inside national parks (Peru for the upcoming one, which is being revisited for the past 5 years, others in the Himalaya and elsewhere).

The typical hole for the outhouse tent is about 0.5 meters square and a meter deep. This serves well to support the 15-20 people for a couple weeks. When we move to another area, the hole is filled and in most cases capped with a sod piece that was cut from the soil. The location is chosen to be out of the way, and with the sod cap is invisible within a week or two. The soil in the area is organically active to a couple meters depth.

There is more to the story than just relieving yourself #1 and #2. You have to practice sanitation, especially the cooks and food handlers. Everyone carries their own individual hand sanitizer supply. When soap is used, the soapy water is disposed of at least 100ft from any water sources and spread over the ground. It is no fun if you get sick from lack of sanitary practices.

7:02 p.m. on July 2, 2016 (EDT)
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Thanks guys I was mostly concerned about the effects on the landscape due to the gravitational pull of the moon. lE too much dirt left over or not enough. it is problematic either way if you are in the wrong phase as there will not be enough dirt th refill the hole and on unlevel ground you would essentially be creating a new run off ditch or  pot holes everywhere 

8:08 a.m. on July 3, 2016 (EDT)
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If the rules state you should pack it out, or the site otherwise requests it, then you should pack it out, period.

10:55 a.m. on July 3, 2016 (EDT)
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Virtually all of the parks and open space reserves in the various states I go to when traveling, as well as most towns and cities, require that you pick up your pet's poop in a bag (please do not just let bowser dump on people's yards!!!) and put the bag in the appropriate trash bin. Most pet-owners and dog walkers do this.

But I am continuously amazed at the number of people who have no qualms about carrying their dog's droppings, yet are squeamish about their own feces when out hiking or backpacking. OTOH, in some city parks, there are people who pick up the dog's poop in the officially provided bag, then leave the bag with the poop in it by the side of the trail

11:59 a.m. on July 3, 2016 (EDT)
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Well, this problem has been around for a few thousand years. When the Jews were wandering in the desert for forty years, they had the law --- "Thou shalt have a place also outside the camp, and shalt go forth thither. And thou shalt have a shovel amongst thy weapons, and it shall be, when thou sittest down abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which is come from thee. For Jehovah thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; and thy camp shall be holy, that he see nothing unseemly with thee, and turn away from thee." (Deut. 23:12-15)

12:23 p.m. on July 3, 2016 (EDT)
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Here's my review of the U-Dig-It Pro, a sturdy folding trowel that we used for catholes in our 2-family, 25-day hike on the John Muir trail.

This summer my wife and I will test out the much lighter Deuce of Spades on an 11 day hike in the Wind Rivers.

And this trip report on our JMT hike includes a novel solution for big groups in areas where both wag bags and bear canisters are de rigeur. I'll just quote it here because it's buried in a long trip report:

"When we entered the Whitney zone and had to use wag bags for our own waste, I had the brilliant idea of lining a bear canister with a wag bag to use as a latrine. After 2-3 people have done their thing, seal it up and drop it in, and set up another one over it. The rest of the gang were pretty dubious about it at first, but after trying it out and considering the alternative of having to put a squishy bag full of you-know-what in your pack, all agreed it was pure genius – but maybe that’s because I volunteered to carry 2 days x 8 people’s worth of waste down to Whitney Portal. The bear can in question has been thoroughly washed."

Oh, and I use leaves, moss, snow, or even rocks (on the JMT) to obviate the need for TP. A lot of people seem almost as squeamish about those options as carrying, but I'll testify that all four options can give a good clean wipe. Don't badmouth it until you've tried it!

12:44 p.m. on July 3, 2016 (EDT)
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I have been entertaining a lightweight compost bin...that is if you stay a while.  All you would need is a perforated lightweight rigid plastic sheet that would form a tube.  Typical compost rules here would apply, using green matter, ect ect..and I have found many sites that detail the process.  Let it compost until you leave and then dig a cathole and dump it in.  The process of decomposition is going to continue.  

I spoke with one guy that burned it...I don't know about that though.  I guess you could use a swedish fire pit as a toilet. Seems like it would stink...but there would be no flies.  Opinions?   

Concerning pets...well I think that dogs should stay home.  Not just because they make noise barking at everything, but because campers very seldom bury their dogs poop.  They will bury their own poop but let the dog crap wherever and then not pick it up. I walked through a virtual dog poo landmine field in one area.  I saw maybe 10 piles of dog crap..   I did pick it up and bury it.  

But I digress... this is why I go where no others have gone before.  (Where have I heard that before...Hmm?)  

When I posted this I did not anticipate so much crap.  LOL  Thanks for the ideas.

Snakey 

1:02 p.m. on July 3, 2016 (EDT)
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overmywaders said:

Well, this problem has been around for a few thousand years. When the Jews were wandering in the desert for forty years, they had the law --- "Thou shalt have a place also outside the camp, and shalt go forth thither. And thou shalt have a shovel amongst thy weapons, and it shall be, when thou sittest down abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which is come from thee. For Jehovah thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; and thy camp shall be holy, that he see nothing unseemly with thee, and turn away from thee." (Deut. 23:12-15)

 Amen better to obey God than man

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