With washroom facilities currently closed in Ontario Parks and conservation reserves, on account of COVID-19 safety measures, you really don’t want to be caught with your pants down. Nor should you let fears of a full bladder or the after-effects of a full-on fibre breakfast discourage you from heading into the great outdoors. So let’s flush out the best ways to discretely and considerately pee and poo in the woods.
Ace your number one
Taking a whiz in the wilds is second nature for some of us. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK just to duck behind the nearest tree, when you need a number one. Don’t pee (or do any of your business, for that matter) within 200 feet (70 paces) of hiking trails, camp sites or bodies of water — we don’t want to be swimming around in your pathogens.
If you’re anatomically built to aim in the direction of your choosing, it’s best not to aim at large rocks—in case of unwanted splatter. Women generally need to squat, and if that’s your case, you should find level ground that offers privacy. (That’s where forests and tall grass come in handy.) Or bring a “bio break buddy” to stand guard.
No matter your gender, you should dig a trench or small hole with the heel of your boot, even when you’re only peeing. Then let everything flow naturally. Put any biodegradable toilet paper in the trench and cover it up with soil. If you’re not using a hole to pee, urinate on pine needles or a flat rock to disperse the urine and keep it away from vegetation.
How to do a number two
So, you need to drop a deuce. Location is always key. Avoid rocky areas as you’ll need to dig. And never squat near poison ivy. That’d be a bum deal for sure.
Fitness enthusiasts who’ve mastered the art of squatting on command have an advantage. Maybe start training now? Once you’re in the heat of the moment, out in the forest, select your private eco-friendly spot, dig a trench or hole that’s six to eight inches deep (carrying a trowel in your daypack helps), then squat and drop, as they say.
Place used biodegradable paper into the hole and cover it up. Or, better yet, place your soiled toilet tissue (biodegradable or not) into a resealable bag and, in hiking parlance, “pack it out with you.”
Teaching kids to use a wild washroom
Mind the mini-poopers. Explain to children — before arriving in the park — that everyone will need to poo and pee in the outdoors. Be prepared to address the shy factor, especially with young girls.
Dig holes wider for youngsters who’ve not honed their aiming skills. Ask your child to help dig the hole, so they’ll understand what you’re doing and why.
Squatting requires balance, which your youngsters may not have developed yet. Offer to hold younger ones up—or find a tree stump or fallen log for support. Try to make it fun: “Come on kids, let’s go potty in the pinery!”
After your business is done
Remember to pack hand sanitizer or wipes to wash your hands and, if necessary, private parts—along with aforementioned plastic bag to pack out your used toilet tissue. As they say, leave nothing behind but footprints.