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Old 07-08-2013, 06:17 PM   #21
John H Swanson
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Some related "science" I compost in my backyard. In our house, we drink coffee and use paper filters. Hundreds per year. The paper filters get thrown with the grounds into the compost. It is never turned. In the spring, I pull out the mass and there are about 10 filters visable in the top layers and the rest have been.... dug up by animals and strewn all over the back yard....just kidding, couldn't resist. Actually the rest are mysteriously gone.


I can hear the critics saying compost is different....
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:57 PM   #22
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Lightbulb Composting toilets can do it!

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I can hear the critics saying compost is different....
Uhhh... composting toilets... I'm pretty sure you don't have to put your TP in plastic bags and dump them in the ocean for those to work
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Old 07-09-2013, 06:44 AM   #23
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Speaking of

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composting toilets...

For those who feel packing it out is the only way. With regards to the Adirondacks how do you feel about outhouses?
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:42 AM   #24
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Mixed. One benefit is that the waste is generally located in one area (some folks can't stand 'em and go off in the woods and leave "land mines") and will decay in 150 years or so.

Too many times idiots dump garbage down them and that does no good.

On the Long Trail in Vermont they have caretakers at some of the LT's and campsites. Some of these have outhouses are maintained by composting; one of the caretakers favorite duties.

I also ran into an OH that was using red worms to compost waste. As I recall, it was in the experimental stage. I don't know how well it worked.
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Old 07-09-2013, 09:05 AM   #25
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I have an OH at camp thats running about 8 yrs now. I periodically add some ridex and it breaks the "stuff " down nicely. No odor to speak of. Absolutely never throw anything in. Not even tp cardboard.

Ed
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Old 07-09-2013, 04:50 PM   #26
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Who cleans up after their dog in the woods?
My dog poops in the house ... not an issue on my end

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Seems to me, if there is a regulation, there is reasoning behind it. So my attitude is that I will do what is requested. If their is reason behind the regulation then I am helping to keep the environment as good as possible for my fellow backpackers. If there is not reasoning behind the regulation then I am helping to keep the environment as good as possible for my fellow backpackers.

Not difficult logic.
Man I hate to argue but that logic is flawed IMO.

Did you ever think the regulation was made by those who didn't care where the garbage went as long as they didn't have to look at it? Seems to be a popular theme among environmentalists and avid outdoors people.

Think of it from the other side of the coin. How would you feel if all those nicely sealed and non-biodegradable poop bags got dumped in the parks, instead of some other landfill or in our oceans. Might not seem so nice eh...

It is like when I was a kid and my ma told me to clean my room and I just shoved everything in the closet and under the bed. That isn't really cleaning. The mess is still there, just somewhere else.

Seems like most people on here are doing the right thing, even if it isn't the legal thing. And that makes me happy.

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Old 07-10-2013, 12:00 PM   #27
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A bit late on this but wanted to comment.

As some have pointed out, guidelines that dictate that TP is to be carried out are more for areas that are highly sensitive to such impacts, or where it's impossible to bury TP so that it is out of sight. In many of these areas, LNT guidelines also dictate that you carry your human waste out as well. A strict interpretation of the regulations notwithstanding, I don't know of any ranger that would ever give someone a hard time for properly burying their human waste and TP in the Adirondacks instead of carrying it out.

As I understand it, human waste and TP will break down and decompose faster if they are closer to the surface, where the rate of decomposition is fastest. The reason we are told to bury it is to put it out of sight, which lessens the visual impact, and also decreases the chances that material will get picked up by runoff during rainstorms and get carried into surface water, contaminating that water. Personally, when selecting a spot, I try to find someplace where no one will likely step in the near future (much less set up a tent!), and where there is little chance of surface water accumulating or running. I dig down to the boundary line between the organic layer and mineral soil layer, and bury my waste and TP there.

The problem that arrises with TP (and human waste) is two-fold: People not taking the time to bury it properly, and high use areas where a lot of people are doing their business in the same place. When you combine the two, you have a major management issue. And unfortunately, the two seem to go hand in hand, as areas that get a lot of use tend also to have users with low experience levels that don't quite know how to properly dispose of their waste and TP.

Case in point: I was once at Watch Rock on Pharaoh Lake, right after a wedding had occupied the lean-to. Despite the presence of an outhouse, the group had left a huge mess- charmin blooms everywhere. I spent about an hour burying what I could of it.

The proper management technique is to install privies in high use areas to counter this trend. But in the highest use areas, simple privies are just a short term solution... they fill up quickly and have to be used often. And, as I mentioned above, not everyone chooses to use them. I know that there has been discussion within the DEC about implementing composting toilets in the Adirondack backcountry, but current wilderness regulations would make it difficult. As I understand it, it's something that would have to be addressed at the APA level, with appropriate modifications to the current regulations before composting toilets could be installed. Hopefully it's something that does happen, because places like Marcy Dam could certainly benefit from a composting toilet (and the overall impact would be lessened).

As far as animals getting into the waste, I've never seen evidence of animals digging up properly buried cat holes. I have seen evidence of animals digging in pit privies, but I would suspect that it's not the human waste or the TP they are going after, but probably trash and food scraps that people have deposited in the privies.
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Old 07-10-2013, 12:49 PM   #28
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DSettahr,

I wonder if the privy-avoidance in the high use areas is related to the type of privy provided?

In your experience or other data source, is there a difference in usage percentage of an enclosed privy/outhouse vs a "thunder box"?
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:07 PM   #29
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DSettahr i think we need a poll ?
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:26 PM   #30
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DSettahr i think we need a poll ?
If a bear craps in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it smell?
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:31 PM   #31
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If a bear craps in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it smell?
Only when you step in it.

I want to know who is burying the bear's poo?





On a more serious note. I have often wondered about composting toilets as opposed to pits... so I'd be curious to hear more about that.

If a pit is available, and it has been maintained, I will use it as opposed to a cat hole. I thought that is what you were supposed to do?

Some are quite vandalized though and I wouldn't trust sitting in them.
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:53 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DuctTape View Post
DSettahr,

I wonder if the privy-avoidance in the high use areas is related to the type of privy provided?

In your experience or other data source, is there a difference in usage percentage of an enclosed privy/outhouse vs a "thunder box"?
The following has been my completely anecdotal and unscientific observation:

Most people who fall into the "beginner" category actually gravitate towards outhouses. They tend not to be comfortable doing their business in the woods without 4 walls and a roof. And many people in this category prefer outhouses to thunderboxes, likely for the same reason- the 4 walls and and a roof provide a sense of protection and in turn, comfort. Generally, though, most folks in that category will still use the box toilets in favor of a cat hole, even if they aren't 100% comfortable with it, because it's "better than nothing."

I think there are several reasons for folks sometimes avoiding outhouses and box toilets, though, none of which have much to do with the stench:
  • When a user begins to gain some backcountry experience, one right of passage is the "first poop in the woods without an outhouse." Unfortunately, for many, this happens before they really know how to properly go about doing it. You see this a lot with backcountry groups/users that have a couple of trips under their belts, and are eager to prove their comfort level in the woods but may not actually have gained all that much backcountry skill as of yet.
  • Other factors come into play that affects their comfort level. The chief of these is the arrival of nightfall. For many unskilled users, the fear of leaving camp at night, even to travel a short distance to the outhouse, overwhelms them and makes pooping right behind the lean-to a much more attractive option. It sounds silly... but people have gotten lost on their way to the privy before and rangers have had to go into the woods and find them. I've also experienced this with outhouses that are located far away from campsites, and may be difficult to find or locate even during the day.
  • Group size. When you have a larger group, the outhouse may not be able to keep up with the demand, so people turn to alternative methods. Again, this seems to happen mostly with groups that are unskilled, as such groups are often well in excess of the group size limit, a violation that occurs much more frequently with inexperienced groups.

I've mentioned it before numerous times, but it's relevant here, too. Recreation managers use the idea of "stress-coping" to explain the behavior of backcountry users engaged in outdoor recreation activities. The idea is that for many, outdoor recreation activities inherently contain many triggers of stress that can affect the user. In turn, users resort to "coping mechanisms" to deal with that stress. Amongst unskilled users, it's those coping mechanisms that often cause undue levels of impact.

For example, camping illegally because the site you wanted is already taken, having a fire where it's prohibited because you really wanted to have one, cutting down standing trees because all of the dead and down wood has been already used, and pooping on the ground because you can't find the outhouse in the dark... these are all frequent coping mechanisms that inexperienced users turn to in response to typical backcountry causes of stress, because they don't have the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to deal with that stress in a manner that doesn't create undue impact.

Typically, as backcountry skill increases, expectations become more realistic, the stress experienced becomes less severe, and users gain a greater array of appropriate coping mechanisms that they can rely on in response to that stress. But it's important to remember that stress never goes away, no matter how experienced you are, and even the most skilled backcountry users sometimes need to stop and think "is this the most appropriate way to handle this situation??
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:20 PM   #33
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When a user begins to gain some backcountry experience, one right of passage is the "first poop in the woods without an outhouse." Unfortunately, for many, this happens before they really know how to properly go about doing it. You see this a lot with backcountry groups/users that have a couple of trips under their belts, and are eager to prove their comfort level in the woods but may not actually have gained all that much backcountry skill as of yet.
Funny you mention this but very true. I don't recall my first poo in the woods but it probably wasn't properly done.

I remember my wife on the other hand because she had never even been real backcountry camping when we first met. She was very resistant to going in the woods and would only use pits (or hold it). Needless to say we mostly frequented wild forest area where pits are more common.

Once she broke the seal she was fine with it and I had to make sure she buried properly. There was no issue with her going far away from trail, water or campsite because she was worried about privacy.

I can't wait until I have kids and have to potty train them for the outdoors
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:53 PM   #34
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I can't wait until I have kids and have to potty train them for the outdoors

Wait, aren't the kids gonna go in the house, too? I mean the dog can, but the kids can't???
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:56 PM   #35
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Wait, aren't the kids gonna go in the house, too? I mean the dog can, but the kids can't???
The kids can bury it outside, the dog can't
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Old 07-10-2013, 05:57 PM   #36
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Once she broke the seal...
...I like your style. My wife had the same experience.

DS, here's one data point: I generally am bushwhacking, so not near privies. But I tend to avoid them for three reasons: contamination from other people; spiders; and stench. MUCH rather go far afield and make a proper cathole. If I'm in an area of concentrated use, I'll make an effort to hold until I'm far from where others might go.
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Old 07-10-2013, 07:45 PM   #37
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A little tip if you are more than solo in a primitive area.... if the particular spot looks good to you, it probably does to the other person(s) as well. So be sure that after you properly bury and disguise the cathole, put a small stick upright in the dirt as a signal... don't dig here! Be sure to let everyone know what it means. It's a simple thing that can save you from having a nasty surprise.

I teach this to guides leading BSA high adventure wilderness treks, and they are very appreciative for the advice.
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:51 PM   #38
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A little tip if you are more than solo in a primitive area.... if the particular spot looks good to you, it probably does to the other person(s) as well. So be sure that after you properly bury and disguise the cathole, put a small stick upright in the dirt as a signal...
So you're the guy!!!

I was bushwhacking in the Five Ponds area, and a powerful urge struck.
I searched for a particular spot that looked good to me, dropped trousers, and squatted over small upright stick, impaling myself and requiring emergency field surgery!! I was traumatized for years.

Today, just now, actually, I find out that is was you that placed that devious weapon...


All kidding aside, I really like those thunder boxes. Great view and a comfortable seat. Even a spot to rest your coffee cup.
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:59 PM   #39
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OK now I gotta ask, what is a thunderbox? I've heard people talk about them, but I always thought it was just another term for outhouse or privy. But after reading this thread, I'm starting to think there is a difference. Anyone have a pic of a thunderbox? O just explain the difference between it and an outhouse?
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Old 07-10-2013, 09:08 PM   #40
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A thunderbox is the box part of the outhouse you sit on without the surrounding walls. Typically there will be a cover.

I've noticed they've started replacing outhouses with them in some other parts of NY. I'm not opposed to them but the ones I have come across were not nearly private enough with the foliage down.

I walked up on a poor chap with his pants around his knees last one I found. It wasn't pleasant for either of us

Oh and a picture:



Quote:
Originally Posted by stripperguy View Post
I was bushwhacking in the Five Ponds area, and a powerful urge struck.
I searched for a particular spot that looked good to me, dropped trousers, and squatted over small upright stick, impaling myself and requiring emergency field surgery!! I was traumatized for years.
To help reduce the risk of others being defiled like this, perhaps consider laying your sticks in a cross pattern, or maybe constructing a gentle cairn...

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