Backwoods Potty Talk
By Taylar Main, Girls Who Hike Vermont Ambassador
Okay, real talk ladies; this is not for the squeamish. Let us address what we all have to take care off in the backwoods, The Three P's (pee, poop and period). After this article, you will be a pro at tackling the three P's in the backwoods! I know so many ladies and even myself at one point would back out of awesome overnight trips and day hikes just because I was afraid to deal with my period while on the trail. If this is you or ever has been read on girlfriend!
Okay here are a few must-haves, I create a "period Kit" for everyday life and backwoods life. It contains
-Menstrual cup (Luna Cup, comes with a cotton bag)
-Period Undies (THINX)
-a small container of period reliever medication
This is my kit and everyone will have their own recipe for it, maybe yours has tampons or pad but I personally do not want to pack those out after using them. My method keeps smell down and is less waste you will have to pack out. Also, one time I had tampons in my backpack it down poured and all my tampons got destroyed ... so this method is foolproof!
So I always use a menstrual cup… Always! I am so comfortable with putting it in and out. Also, its amazing for the environment so in the backwoods, this is perfect! No stopping to change your tampon getting it out of your bag getting your disposable “waste kit” and making your way into the woods. So first off its hella embarrassing when I have been dirtbagging with dudes and am hiking into a spot with then I'm like "I got to break off for a minute" but then remove my tampons and pad and pack out waste bag from my Backpack in front of them so they all know I'm on my period which isn’t something I'm trying to flaunt to the world. So with the cup, I am able to keep it in all day and when I arrive at camp when I'm done setting up I make time to take care of business. There is a lot of information on the web about how to use the cup so I suggest starting there for basic use and doing trial runs with it at home at least once while you are on your period.
In the backwoods, I insert a cleaned cup after using hand sanitizer then put on my period undies and head to the trail. Once I am at camp I find a privy or place to use the potty... hiking about 100 Yards away from camp I dig a hole empty contents of the cup into said hole bring my water bottle and rinse out the cup the best I can. Then I use the restroom, use hand sanitizer, replace the cup, then cover the hole and head back to camp for a great nights rest! On lighter days I just use the period panties I also use them as back up leak proof panties. They are great for absorbing the blood and at the same time they are antibacterial so they don't smell much! To care for the panties you just pour water on them from your water bottle and ring out and hang to dry at camp or on your pack with your pee rag and socks. Make sure on you town days or Laundry days you machine wash them. The Ziplock bag is for when you are in areas that you can not bury human waste I pour all waste into the said bag along with any toilet paper I need to use on my trip.
Okay, so this seems relatively easy like I just walk in the woods and pee right? If it was only that easy. So do you have a pee rag? if not get one like yesterday! This will save your life while in the backwoods toilet paper is annoying to pack in and out. I have a rag or bandanna I use to wipe and keep me dry and then hang on my bag to dry and let the sun kill the bacteria, then of course wash in town. do not drip dry! this is prime time for bacteria to grow and UTI and yeast infection to happen... and let me tell you it is terrible to have this happen to you on the trail. So pee rag ladies, it is all the rage!
Also, do not pee in a Privy unless otherwise stated that it is allowed in the privy. The extra liquid added to the privy makes more work for the composting toilet to do its job as well as the trail workers then have to pack in more mulch to help care for the privy... so make their job easier!
This is a Privy's time to shine! us the privy! No Privy no problem...Do you have a camp trowel... get one if not! dig a cat hole squat wipe, pack out your Toilet paper and bury the evidence. I also put a rock or stick over the area to discourage animals from digging that spot up. Make sure you have sanitizer with you I always have a small one attached to my bag make sure you keep your hands as clean as possible. Also, make sure to not be in alpine zones while taking care of any kind of bathroom business. You can also look into waste bags but those are usually only needed in required areas with large alpine zones, high trafficked areas, and glacial lands.
Never Ever be closer than 200 feet to a water source while taking care of any of the three P's. Try to wash your hands at least once a day and use hand sanitizer after bathroom use. do not wear cotton underwear in the backwoods this will prevent you from keeping your lady parts dry and can cause chaffing.
Okay, now you are a pro! Go get yourself in the woods!