Exit, Stage One

There’s a fair bit of buzz about what this blogger refers to as The Poop Group. Not to be irreverent, but it’s a little more to the point than calling this weekend’s international conference at the American Alpine Club Exit Strategies.

I’ve lifted the following description from the AAC website: included are top land managers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and wilderness participants from around the globe to discuss and formulate strategies for managing human waste in remote areas. The Exit Strategies conference will include general/plenary sessions, poster presentations, field-proven techniques and opportunities for focused problem solving.

There’s nothing new in this conversation. Those of us who regularly hike global trails continue to see the effects of poop, wandering off-trail, erosion, selfishness, you name it. It’s disconcerting at best, given how finite this natural resource is in the face of an exploding population and interest level.

Let me be direct and maybe a little preachy. How do YOU manage your waste? Do you urinate on wildflowers thinking it’ll hydrate them? Do you leave toilet paper on the ground convinced it will biodegrade? And what about the dog? Just this weekend I was hiking on South Boulder Creek trail to find that someone had dutifully scooped the pooch’s poop in a red plastic bag – then left it tied to a tree branch overhanging the trail. BLECH!

It’s not so tough to clean up after ourselves. Pee on a rock instead of wildflowers and the mountain goats will lick the urine off the rock instead of destroying the plant. Bring a plastic container with a tablespoon of baking soda, a shovel and scoop your poop and TP into it for the trip out. Notice I didn’t say Ziploc bag – they’re not biodegradable and the chance you’ll empty the bag and clean it is a big goose egg. A container works just as well and d’oh! it’s reusable, just like a pee bottle! No need to buy those fancy expensive kits – K.I.S.S.! Leave no trace is not a big deal, either – pack it in, pack it out, done deal. It ain’t feces science and it’ll still be lighter out than on the inbound trip.

Before climbing down off my soap box, I admonish you to take a stand or, rather, a squat with Your Mother in mind. Do some research and some reading and do your part. And keep an ear to the ground for the results of the Poop Group convention. Just think how icky it would be if the ground was covered in something…oh, never mind.

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