Does a bear sh- Wait... what does he do in the woods?
April 18, 2014 12:04 PM   Subscribe

My camping experience jumps directly from "getting drunk overnight at a campsite with bathroom facilities nearby" to "totally cut off from all society and pooping in a hole." What is the fecal protocol at a primitive (designated but usually more remote and no facilities) campsite in a Texas state park?
posted by cmoj to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If it's not a heavily used location the usual protocol is to dig a hole. You'll have to check with the specific locale about whether you're required to pack out any paper or burn it and then bury it. Some heavily used locations like the Grand Canyon require all solid waste to be packed out from raft trips. I've camped at some heavily used primitive sites that actually had outhouses.
posted by leslies at 12:12 PM on April 18, 2014

A few options.
Cat holes

or poop tubes (more often used for climbing trips but can also be used for camping)
posted by edgeways at 12:15 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You ask the park ranger and do as they direct, as instructions may differ from one park to the next.
posted by Houstonian at 12:18 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bring a shovel.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:25 PM on April 18, 2014

What park are you visiting? Most of the primitive sites at the TX state parks I've been to have composting toilets. No running water, but you don't have to dig your hole.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:33 PM on April 18, 2014

As digging holes and filling it up with a large mass of feces is, IMO, disruptive to the local ecology not to mention requires a bit more coordination than many people can muster up, I prefer a Bumper Dumper when there isn't a outhouse at the campsite. If you're the only person in Texas without a trailer hitch, there's these too.

Take only pictures, leave only footprints. Especially don't leave a giant pile of shit and dirty TP.
posted by jamaro at 12:46 PM on April 18, 2014

fyi there is no way to drive a car to a primitive campsite at Texas parks. That's the whole point of primitive. The luggable loo is pretty great, but there's no way you can backpack with it.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:50 PM on April 18, 2014

Best answer: as admirable as it is to consult law for "fecal protocol", this matter is ultimately dictated by nature.

There are actually laws in some areas. Nice story though.

Depending on the level of use of the area you're in, there are sort of ascending stringency levels of poo protocol. Many places without pit or composting toilets are fine if you just bury it, but standard practice is to pack out your used TP, because animals can dig it up and then it goes flying all over. More stringent and heavily used areas (Catalina, Mt. Whitney trail, etc.) require you to pack out everything, and this generally falls in the "leave no trace" ethics category.

If you're digging a hole, make sure you're 100+ feet from any stream or lake, and preferably not right alongside a trail or something. It helps to have a small spade - there's a orange one that's pretty ubiquitous that I think has a ruler on one side to ensure that you bury your waste the recommended 6-8". If possible, put a rock or something on your hole after you're done, which lessens the likelihood that someone will come along later and use your same spot before nature takes its course. To pack out TP, I use a double-bag system. I have one 1-gallon ziplock bag that contains my roll (or whatever) of TP and another smaller bag. I put used TP in the smaller bag, so at least there's two levels of smell control.

If you'd like to leave no trace in a portable manner, local outdoors stores may sell WAG bags, which are kind of self-contained single use chemical toilets.
posted by LionIndex at 1:20 PM on April 18, 2014

Response by poster: This will be at Purtis Creek in Texas if anyone happens to be familiar with local protocol. Either way I'll ask the ranger to be sure, but I thought there might be rules that applied across the state or something.
posted by cmoj at 1:58 PM on April 18, 2014

Best answer: I've been to Purtis Creek, but I only remember the mosquitos (it was late in the summer, and they were swarming). But it is a small-ish park, mostly lake. Have you seen the map (.pdf) yet? The primitive sites are on the eastern side, and it's a small area... with a chemical toilet. (Not too primitive!)
posted by Houstonian at 3:34 PM on April 18, 2014

If you run out of paper, remember "leaves of three, let it be."
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 4:07 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just looked at the Purtis Creek State Park we page and the way they describe the primitive camping leads me to believe that there will be a bathroom of some sort - just the fact that there are 14 primitive sites. I'm guessing these are all somewhat near each other and it would make sense for them to have an outhouse sort of composting toilet or regular porta-pottyesque pit toilet (no running water) sort of thing because they don't want the impact of 14 groups of campers pooping (each day!) during the whole summer.
You can give them a call, too. It will be a totally normal question. I have found the folks who answer those calls to be super helpful and they often have tips on what the best campsite is, nearby hikes, etc.
posted by fieldtrip at 10:04 PM on April 18, 2014

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