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The Narrows - The Art of Waste Management (or Have Poo Will Travel)

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  Arches National Park
      The Great Alcohol Search
      Devils Garden - Arches
      Devils Garden - Hiking
  Grand Canyon
      The Plunge
      Bright Angel Campground
      Clear Creek Trail
      The Ascent
      Indian Garden Campground
      Tonto West Hike
      The Great Snake Battle
      The Final Ascent
  The Narrows
      Gearing Up
      The Awakening
      The Hike In
      Pee / Poo
      The Hike Out
      Places We Missed
      Meteor Crater
      Airport Mesa
      Thunder Mountain

As with any natural area assaulted with tourist, the management of human waste is important. Normally, backpackers dig a six-inch deep hole to bury their poo. With the large volume of tourists, cliff sides, wall-to-wall river and periodic flash floods in The Narrows, a new method had to be devised. Here's more than you ever wanted to know about the "backpacking experience."


Robyne, what are you doing? Let's tackle the easy one first. We were told to pee in the river allowing it to be diluted and flushed away with the current. Considering all the water we drank, our pee was pretty well "pre-diluted." Guys have it easy, but for women you have to consider technique, especially considering the different conditions. At camp, when our feet were nestled in dry socks, the key was to find two dry rocks near shore with water running between them. While hiking, feet were not an issue, but privacy was. You didn't know if another hiker would round a bend. Since all through hikers came from the same direction, I would head around the next bend leaving my friends as lookouts. Once we reached Big Springs, privacy was no longer possible. Since we were already wet to mid-thigh, we used the dunk technique. Wade into a deep enough section of water, squat down a little and let 'er rip. A little swish in the water afterwards and you're wiped and ready to go!

This looks deep enough


Me and my poo bag... (to the tune of 'Me and My Shadow') Pooing is a bit more complicated, so the park supplies poo bags. I'm sure these shiny silver bags can double as a signal mirror. We were allocated one bag each for the two-day trip. To use, you open the zip-lock top and partially pull out what looks like a draw-string trash bag. You spread open the bag rim, aim and shoot. Your goal is, "Nothin' but net!" When finished, you pull the draw-strings closed and allow the trash bag to sink into the bottom half of the silver bag where enzymes start to break down your waste. After you zip the silver bag closed (a *very* important step), you are ready to go - or I guess technically you no longer need to go.

I was extremely discouraged when I had to poo only two miles into the trip. I did not want to double-use my poo bag, but what can you do, but doo-doo. I was so pleased with my success that I didn't mind carrying around my own waste. That is until a few stops went by and I didn't like moving aside the pretty silver bag in order to get to my snack food. "I don't want to carry my poo anymore. The novelty's worn off." Strangely though, no one volunteered to take up my burden. At one non-depacking stop, as Robyne dug in my backpack for something, I let out a warning, "Don't smoosh my poo!" For some reason, we all seemed preoccupied with the topic of poo.
"Me and my poo bag..."
(to the tune of "Me and My Shadow")

Copyrighted by McDoten Wachowski Enterprises @2008