Ahead, we see a lovely outcrop of bedrock that slopes gradually to the shore. There’s a gentle breeze to keep off the bugs and deep water off to the side, perfect for a swim.
We find a good place to land, pull the boat up on shore and look around for a place to set up for lunch. Then, we decide to get back into the boat. Somebody pooped at the edge of the clearing and tossed the two-ply into the bush. Gross. Some fresh litter is strewn about as well, letting us know that at least someone got to enjoy lunch at this spot. But not us.
If this were an isolated incident, it would not be so bad.
Throughout the summer, people are drawn to the forest, to the lake, to soak in the soothing majesty of nature. But when nature calls, they are unprepared. Oh sure, they have lots of toilet paper, but no knowledge about how to use it when there is nowhere to flush.
Last September, I spent four days kayaking around the northern Georgian Bay shoreline and found the unmentionable at nine out of 10 places I pulled ashore to explore. I wasn’t looking for the “two-ply butterflies” or the darkness that accompanied them.
I stopped to walk the little sandy beaches, to climb the rocky islands, to have lunch, to relax in the sun, to find a place to put up my tent for the night. It took a long time to find a place that was clean.
So how do you poop in the woods without leaving a mess?
Well, when you walk the dog, you stoop and scoop. Easy enough in the city, but in the wilds, it is the thought that counts. Ask yourself, “What can I do so no one will notice?”
No. 1: Use the smallest amount of toilet paper. After use, take the toilet paper with you. Keep a baggie just for this. You can burn it at the evening campfire or bury it.
No. 2: Get far away from the water. As far as you can. Make a little hole in the dirt. Make your deposit and bury it. Make sure nothing shows. Place a couple of crossed sticks over the dirt.
No. 3: Take everything else out with you. This includes diapers and feminine products, and the garbage from lunch.
Imagine you are the next person to step onto the site. Imagine how you want it to look when you arrive. Make sure it looks like that when you leave.
As we cruise along the shore, our eyes take in scenes of beauty: rocks and trees, peace and tranquility. A deep breath of clean forest air clears our lungs and initiates a relaxing sigh. Ahhh. Life is good.
Viki Mather has been commenting for Northern Life on the natural world and life in Greater Sudbury since the spring of 1984.