October 7th, 2016
A Bathroom With A View
Consideration for nature’s call, as a female.
I still remember the first time I pooped in the woods. I was traveling alone in India, hiking towards a waterfall when it hit me. There was absolutely no time to delay! Nature was calling. There was nothing I could do to stop it.
I found a nearby, secluded space, squatted down and let it go. Ohhhh, the shame of that first and unexpected experience! But at the same moment I was blushing and felt as hot as fire, I looked forward and saw a wonderful mountain. The stillness of nature reassured me that everything was ok; that since the beginning of time woman and men have been doing natural things in nature. I felt as if the mountain was saying to me, “Hello there, love. It has been awhile.” I thought, “Wow! All these years I have been missing out on bathrooms with wonderful views!"
Since that day I have used nature's restrooms many times. Some times as equally unexpected as the first time, and others well planned. During the years I have developed a system to not only make peace with my need to relieve myself anywhere I go, but to handle the event with efficiency and ease. This is how I do it.
Prepare for the expected
In my backpacks, purses and running belts I always carry, minimally, two wet wipes, a tampon, and a dark colored, small, plastic bag. I may carry more of these items depending on how long I plan to be outside.
When nature calls, I walk to a place that is protected from passersby stumbling upon my, uh, “naturalness.” I also bring my plastic bag and wet wipes with me. To get ready, I place the bag in front of me, I open the wipe and I break it into three pieces. If I am only peeing, I can use a third and save the rest. That way if I need more later I have two other clean, pristine pieces to use. This could mean immediately to wash my hands if I happen to forget my hand sanitizer... or if I miss.
What’s next is simple, right? Squat down and pee! No! Not really! Unless you want to pee on your pants!
I have found that splash is a big issue. For me, (and possibly for many of you) the “traditional squat’” directs the stream of pee straight into my pants and shoes. I have learned, instead, to take a modified squat where my knees and hips are at the same level, and my feet are as wide apart as they can go. If there's a large rock or log I can lean on, I use it to help my balance. Trust me, peeing in the woods in no time for acrobatics.
When I'm done, I clean myself up and replace the wet-wipe in it's individual wrapper and then place it inside the plastic bag. If I have to poop, I start the process with digging a hole... and in moments where nature doesn't give me a long enough warning, I stack rocks to conceal my mishap. If I have my period, I use the wet wipe to wrap the tampon and then follow the same steps. The plastic bag retains any smells, and its dark color conceals any visibility of its contents (which are already mainly concealed by the wet-wipe wrapper).
On longer hikes it is easy and still sanitary to reuse the plastic bag over, and over. On multi-day hikes, I empty the plastic bag into a larger trash bag at the end of the day.
Other things to consider in nature as a female
On longer hikes when I don't have the opportunity to change clothing often (sometimes ever) I always carry enough underwear for each night out in the woods. I might also carry a different pair of pants to sleep in while I allow my walking/day pants to air out. I’ve found this is enough to keep me feeling clean(er) as I enjoy the outdoors in a healthy way.
Lastly, and most importantly, after you do your business and before you stand up to continue your hike, MAKE SURE to look ahead of you, sideways, left and right , and up! Take the time to enjoy that quiet moment in nature with true appreciation. It’s not everyday you get to use a bathroom with a view!
Top photo by Ali Kaukas for Wanderlust New Zealand
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