Fecal Friday: the wilderness poop

When I was a little girl, I lived in Korea where people would often sit comfortably in a wide full squat, feet flat on the ground, their arms or armpits resting on their knees. Very relaxing. My grandma’s home had a well-dressed latrine hole in the bathroom for human waste, so if I had to vent when I visited her, I squatted just like that. It worked great. But by the time I grew up and was going backcountry, I had lost the knack.

Americans don’t do much squatting except in exercise routines, and that sort of half-squat will do you no good when it comes to a comfortable rest, a bowel movement, or child birth for that matter. My brother Mark (who is weirdly full of sage and practical information) once told me that the best approach to a wilderness dump is to find a young sapling you can grab with both hands as you squat, and that lets you bear down without falling over. It was great advice.

I have very few memories of pooping in the wild, but I must have done it many times. I assume it must be traumatic in some way, so that I block it out. I don’t get it. I don’t want my kids to feel weird about it. I just want them to comfortably go about the business of voiding their waste, with no fuss, taboo, or remorse.

Nick was born ready for the wilderness poop. He learned not to crap in his pants mainly by running outside and pooping in our yard. He would just drop his ass down into a textbook poop-squat, his hands resting lightly on the ground in front of him, and let loose. Since his tiny cheeks were spread so wide by the stance, usually there was nothing to clean off his butt. One little wipe to make sure, and done. If you’ve ever pooped in the wilderness and handled it right, then you appreciate what a great thing this is. You pack out what you pack in, including used toilet paper, so a low-maintenance poop is highly valuable. Way to go, Nick!

I used to think the OCD would make wilderness pooping extremely difficult for Jesse. But Jesse’s OCD, like many mental disorders in kids, doesn’t seem to exist in a wilder setting. Nature begets all kinds of wellness. The foul, filthy outhouses we often find in campsites drive Jesse (and me) to madness. On the other hand, she’s perfectly fine with a lovely bit of earth covered in leaf mold and peopled with a few creepy crawlies.

One day on a hike through some woods and meadows in the Tetons, Jesse had a sudden and desperate need to poo. We scurried off the trail and looked for a good spot. It was a bit marshy, but we managed to find a place dry enough to set her feet on firmly. She settled down and issued one of those enormous stools that sometimes come out of children, an anatomical impossibility. It took a while for her to clear her colon, and of course flies gathered, buzzing the poop and Jesse’s bare ass. Jesse wanted to know what the flies were doing on her shit. Eating it, I answered. It’s fresh food for them. La la la. We took care of business, wiped Jesse’s ass down, bagged the used TP in a ziplock. We headed back to the trail, but after a few paces Jesse paused and looked back. “FLIES!” she cried out joyfully and musically, throwing her arms wide with a Broadway flair. “FLIES, come eat!! I have left a Jesse poop feast for you!”

Now that’s the right proper spirit of a wilderness poop.

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One thought on “Fecal Friday: the wilderness poop

  1. I still remember the horror I felt running across my first ‘poop hole’ in a European restaurant at 15…..shudder

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