How to Poop on a River Rafting Trip

You might remember that in August this year, I took my first river rafting trip with my boyfriend, Mike, and his family and friends.

[If you happened to miss the full Salmon River adventure, click here for the post!]

There was so much to learn about river life, and the burning question was, of course:
How the heck do you poop on a week-long, 80-mile rafting trip!

Well, I wouldn't recommend holding it. ;)

If you're an inexperienced rafter as I was, you might be envisioning a nice hole in the ground or a spot among some bushes. But the bathroom is not actually in the forest, in the ground, or God-forbid, on the river.

You've probably heard of the Leave No Trace hiking model. On the river, it's Pack In and Pack Out, and this applies not just to your garbage and supplies, but to your waste as well, which means you have to be creative about your bathroom breaks.

So how do you do it?

On our trip, we brought along a portable potty. Not the standing ones you see at concert venues and fairs, but a small plastic potty with a lid--think of a toddler training potty, but for adults. 

Every day you have to find a spot in the camp for the potty, private but accessible, and preferably with a nice view ;) The location is actually pretty important for women on the river. Here's why: Liquid waste, aka urine, needs to be kept separate from solid waste, so that the solid waste can be properly disposed of at the conclusion of the trip or at designated dumps stations along your journey. An ethical, environmentally responsible pee spot is in damp soil somewhere along the riverbed, not on dry ground. So it's convenient to set up the potty close to the river.

Our river group called our potty The Groover, and thankfully, there was a men's groover and women's groover. ;) The potty, before nifty plastic containers, used to be an ammo can! So when you sat on it, you'd walk away with lovely grooves in your bum! Hence, the name: The Groover.

Believe it or not, someone has to bear the responsibility of hauling The Groover on their raft day to day, campsite to campsite, and on our trip, that was all 80 miles! And toward the end of your trip, that potty gets pretty full! Mike and a river friend were our group's groover haulers. These guys, whoever they are in your rafting group are a hero of sorts--thank them, make them dinner or breakfast, and then crack some jokes. 

Eating River Dinner, telling stories and laughing.
The cool thing about living on a river is that poop becomes a group responsibility and effort, and takes on a larger meaning when you have to be conscious of how you go--you can't just dump, flush, and forget about it!

We had so much fun having conversations about poop--the best food to eat to help you poop, memories of the best on-the-river pooping spots--telling pooping-on-the-river stories, and yelling out in the morning as we packed up camp to head out on the river again: 

These are the things you don't think about when you set out on a wilderness adventure. They're not the moments or memories you have in your photo album (thank goodness) but they're also the ones that make the trip, keep you laughing, and teach you new things about the way we live in our world.

If you're thinking about making river rafting your next adventure, check out the other essentials I brought with me, here!

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