BP 101 - Washing Your Bottom W/O TP
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Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: TP in the Backcountry on 08/08/2009 16:55:39 MDT Print View

"So, TP in dryer conditions decomposes faster than in wet areas? Boy is that ever counter intuitive."

Jim,

It's not the water per se but, rather, that excessive water displaces the oxygen necessary for rapid aerobic decomposition. Anaerobic decomposition proceeds more slowly and the faecal matter/TP will persist in the environment for a longer period of time..

"Seriously though, up above 10,500' or so in the Sierra, the soil seems so lifeless. I doubt things would break down quickly."

There are bacteria, lots of them, everywhere, including the Sierra above 10,500'. I've been interested in how faecal matter and TP break down up in the Sierra for 30 odd years now, precisely because I was concerned about leaving traces.
There is an area in the Upper Kern Basin, elevation ~10,700', that I have visited at least once a year during that period and I have checked sites I used on previous visits. No trace of TP and only a small, dessicated pellet unrecognizable as faecal matter are the most that I have ever found. Part of the reason for this, I hypothesize, is that I burn as much of the TP as I can in the hole and then urinate on it, both to quench embers and to add additional nutrients to the mix. It seems to work. TP is mostly cellulose and lignins, which do not break down as rapidly as, say, leaves but, in the presence of adequate nitrogen(think urine and faeces) and oxygen, the resident bacteria will get the job done.

"Add to that the typical rockiness of the Sierra high country -- there just aren't that many places you can make your, uh, "deposit."

The rockiness of the Sierra provides countless "safe deposit boxes" for your convenience. Just find a secluded place where the slope will not cause spring runoff to flow into a water source, lift a fairly large, partially embedded rock to one side, and voila!, you have a prefabricated cathole/safe deposit box. Simply make your deposit, burn the TP in the hole, pee on it, and replace the rock. Simple as that. Talus slopes are another matter. Best do your business before or after negotiating the talus. Clearly there are countless other options, but this is one that I have found to work well and it definitely leaves no trace that humans or animals are likely to detect. Within one year, there is no trace, period. I probably should urinate on this post to avoid igniting another TP flame war. :)

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TP in the Backcountry on 08/08/2009 17:22:42 MDT Print View

it seems to me that the biggest reason for the hard line anti-tp campaign is the assumption that the toilet paper one sees on the side of the trail was once properly buried and has now been "dug up by wildlife".
I question this assumption for some basic reasons:
-all the tp I see is mostly clean bright white blooms. This leads to the conclusion that it was put there by someone too lazy and apathetic to walk more than 2 feet from the trail let alone dig a hole. If it was buried it would be thoroughly soiled and therefore not the bright white tp blooms you see.
- I also question the assumption that wildlife has a habit of digging up poo. I could be wrong and Im sure it happens sometimes, but its doesn't sound like a normal thing for wildlife to do. I can see if you are using perfume and lotion infused tp that may draw the curiosity of wildlife but you shouldn't use that kind of tp in the back country anyways.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: Re: Re: TP in the Backcountry: Foolproof Remedy on 08/08/2009 19:01:54 MDT Print View

Craig,
I think going TP-less *is* clearly the simplest solution--not what I've done in the past, but thanks to the discussion on this and other threads, what I intend to do in the future.

However, it's pretty clear from the discussion that many (most?) lightweight/UL backpackers still do use TP, and the lightweight/UL community is still much smaller than the traditional backpacking community, which I would guess overwhelmingly uses TP. So, a lot of paper is going into the backcountry for the foreseeable future.

Right now, if a newbie asks 10 different people what to do with used TP, they'll get 10 different answers, backed up by anecdote, opinion and wildass guesses. Good research allows for consistent recommendations and policies, with rangers in sensitive areas being able to enforce a go without or pack it out policy backed up by good science. Given the choice between going without and packing around a baggie of used TP, I imagine a lot of people will discover the joys of being TP-less.

Without the research, all we have is a bunch of competing belief systems, none of which seem likely to change.

Frank Perkins
(fperkins)

Locale: North East
Re: BP 101 - Washing Your Bottom W/O TP on 08/08/2009 19:11:18 MDT Print View

I was wondering if there is a similar topic on brushing your teeth? Is the most efficient method Dr B's and a saw'd down tooth brush or are people using pine cones?

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TP in the Backcountry on 08/08/2009 23:22:11 MDT Print View

I was wondering if there is a similar topic on brushing your teeth? Is the most efficient method Dr B's and a saw'd down tooth brush or are people using pine cones?

Rocks, dude rocks. Guaranteed to cut plaque. :)

The rockiness of the Sierra provides countless "safe deposit boxes" for your convenience. Just find a secluded place where the slope will not cause spring runoff to flow into a water source, lift a fairly large, partially embedded rock to one side, and voila!, you have a prefabricated cathole/safe deposit box. Simply make your deposit, burn the TP in the hole, pee on it, and replace the rock.

Well, yes, kinda. I was up at Columbine Lake at about 11,000' a couple of weeks ago. It's a lot of smooth, glaciated granite slabs. I found a rock such as you described, but there weren't a lot of them and fewer still that weren't in full view of the trail. Sometimes, it's not so simple, but I agree with your approach in general.

Your "research" in the upper Kern basin is really helpful. It's good to know that the poo poo is desicating like that even high up and that there is no trace of unburned paper. I was feeling a little guilty about not packing out my poo poo, so it's a relief to hear that it really does break down even at relatively high altitudes.

Now, of course, I expect you to climb Black Kaweah (13,665') once a year and gather data up a little higher. I'll be looking for your posts... ;)

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TP in the Backcountry on 08/09/2009 18:53:32 MDT Print View

"Now, of course, I expect you to climb Black Kaweah (13,665') once a year and gather data up a little higher. I'll be looking for your posts"

I've been up near the Black Kaweah 5 times now on trips into the Kaweah Basin, but the thought of climbing that pile of loose rock, or anything on the Kaweah Peaks Ridge, puckers my sphincter to the point that TP-less backpacking suddenly seems very feasible. It's be a great place to train people in cr#pless backpacking-carry it in, carry it out, in the ultimate odorproof bag. ;}

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Black Kaweah on 08/10/2009 12:56:25 MDT Print View

lol.

Yeah, when you look at the Kaweah Divide, it's pretty intimidating. Crazy crags.