I have said it before, but for my new readers I will say it again:
Hiking is a rather intimate experience. Not intimate in this way:
But intimate concerning things that normally people don’t see in others in public settings. Take, for instance, brushing your teeth. Normally that’s reserved for your parents or your spouse (or live in boy/girl friend). No one else watches you brush your teeth… that’s just not done. You don’t brush your teeth in WalMart, or at the table at the Olive Garden right after some Chicken Scampi. MMMMMM…. Chicken Scampi.
Anyway, there are a lot of things you generally restrict to those people in your life that are your close friends or relatives or lovers. One of those things is bathroom habits or functions. Ordinarily you just don’t tell relative strangers how often you peed in a day, or how many times you pooped, or even what it was like. Sure, some guys who are friends might joke about it, but even guys don’t generally talk about things like that with someone they met 12 hours ago.
So, when I start discussing this with you people, who I don’t even know, just remember that, I’m in full on hiker-mode here, which gives me a sort of different set of rules to go by.
I took my first dump in the woods on my last hiking trip.
It wasn’t planned, nor even expected. In fact, I usually go two or three days without pooping when I’m hiking. Normally I leave Saturday morning, get home Sunday evening, and it might be Monday or Tuesday before my bowels say, “Oh wait, you mean we aren’t in the woods any more? Damn, news travels slow to us, time to get a move on.” and things go normally.
So it was quite a shock to me on my second morning when I was packing up, and began to feel that old familiar feeling. That, “better find the trowel and toilet paper bag now” feeling. Thankfully it was still pretty early, and I ran back to the designated bathroom area, and tried to dig my hole. If you’ve never dug a hole in a forest, it’s not like digging a hole in your back yard. There are roots and things under the soil that make digging a hole with a handle-less plastic trowel not much of a quick experience. However, I had to make haste, because I was hastily about to make waste, whether I wanted to or not. Finally my GI tract decided the hole was good, and I did my thing. It comes naturally, I promise. In fact, it was surprisingly easy. I don’t even like to go in a public bathroom in a closed stall when someone is in the next stall, but here I was with 6 other people not 50 yards away, and I squatting over a hole in the ground.
Done, cleaned up, buried, and on my way. I felt a new sense of freedom and accomplishment. Not only can I spend TWO nights in a ROW in the woods, I can crap like the best of them. No turd on the shorts or anything.
Later in the day while waiting on another hiker to catch up, a discussion came up about getting cleaned up and eating out (at a restaurant, not the fun kind…). My hiking friend said she would have to stop at a bathhouse in the camping area and clean herself up first. The subject of crapping in the woods came up and I said I had “popped my poop cherry on this trip”.
She laughed at that… “You pooped once? I don’t know if it’s what I’m eating, but I pooped FOUR times TODAY. The really messy ones too, I’m rationing my toilet paper.”
See, its an intimate thing. How many people at work could you talk about this stuff with?
Of course, maybe it WAS the food, or the exercise, because we were half a mile from the end when suddenly I had to go again. It really is difficult bounding through the woods trying to open your ziplock bag of toilet paper and unbutton your shorts at the same time, but it can be done. It may be necessary too, when you have to hastily unpack your pack because the blue “hygiene bag” with the paper and trowel and hand sanitizer somehow gets buried in the bottom of the pack.
There are a lot of bad feelings in the world – the sudden fear when you reach for your car keys and they’re not in your pocket, the realization you might have left your phone on the table in the restaurant, reaching for your wallet and not feeling it at first (other pocket!), coming home and the back door is open (did I leave it open or is there someone inside I have to shoot for trying to take my TV?), but when you are a mile from the closest toilet and can’t find your “Crapping in the woods” supplies, the sweat beads up pretty fast.
But, it’s part of life. We eat, we have to poop. And when nature calls, sometimes you have to answer, even without the old porcelain phone. But it’s refreshing to note that there are people out there that find the situation pretty funny.
If I get to go hiking again, I would prefer my bowels hold themselves in check until the hike is all well and done. If not, though, at least I know the route: for I have walked the brown blazed trail, and come back to tell my tale.