Mental Floss
MF EXPLAINS IT ALL

How to Poop in the Woods, According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Mike Rampton
lucentius/Getty Images Plus
lucentius/Getty Images Plus / lucentius/Getty Images Plus
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Bears poop in the woods. It’s a given, to the point that their forest-pooping is an internationally recognized truth used rhetorically to emphasize a statement's veracity. It’s also where bears live, so it just makes sense. But what if you wanted to do it as well? If you wanted to emulate the bears, embrace your own inner ursine, and make the forest fecal?

Luckily for anyone considering such an endeavor, or caught short mid-hike, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has got your back—and bottom.

In the first of its new monthly series of instructional videos, the DEC tackles relieving oneself rurally.

The first piece of advice is to leave the trail, as nobody wants a pleasant hike ruined by seeing someone void their bowels, or walking through what they leave behind. The DEC suggests taking 70 big steps off the trail before doing your business.

Next up, find your spot. You don’t want to be neck-deep in a bush or hovering over some poison ivy, so look for minimal vegetation. Trees can provide a bit of support if needed.

Now, dig your hole. First move away any pine needles or general forest detritus to access the soil, then take out your trowel.

You have a trowel, right? If you travel like the pros at the DEC roll, you’ll have a bathroom kit with you: toilet paper, hand sanitizer, a cloth, a non-transparent bag, and, yep, a trowel.

Dig your hole, six inches or so across and about the same depth, and do your thing (your poop). Used toilet paper can be buried or taken away in your bag (hence non-transparent). Then, replace the soil and scatter whatever tree junk was there before you created your tiny little cesspit.

Congratulations—you’ve pooped in the woods!

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