No TP, No Gel, Not Anymore

I didn’t use to think much of shitting in the woods. Or carrying toilet paper out of doors.

But in these times where the white fluff is in such high demand, I’m reminded of a woman I dated who wilded me. For the first time, scatting outside was temporal.

Those were the days when toilet paper was abundant and antibacterial gel was a small bottle one of your germ-conscious friends touted around on their backpack or purse, attached by that silly little plastic lanyard thing. It always struck me as excessive, until you really needed it.

Gel and TP. These consumer products have become symbols of basic needs gone unmet. They are the tip of the spear; the trifling consumer-end of an axis with a lack of healthcare and job insecurity at the other. When people worry about their long-term viability we compensate by hoarding the graspable representation of safety. Think cash runs on the bank or re-stocking your “french toast” supplies ahead of hurricanes. 

Anyways, let’s talk about pooping outside.



I’ve been outdoors.

I go hiking, backpacking, and climbing. I was in the Scouts.

Still, I can’t remember ever pooping in the woods. I’m not sure why, but there are some guesses: I’ve held a slight aversion; There has always been access to an outhouse; Strong bowels. Really strong bowels?

Then a funny thing happened.

A few years ago a woman came into my life that liked to relieve herself outdoors. Dang it if every time we went on a trip to nature did she take advantage to plop one down in it.

Take Poland. 16km outside of Krakow is a valley with lots of old rock. We stayed at a well-made campground with a restaurant and plenty of toilets. A road winds through the grounds to access the climbing areas. One morning, we decided to go further afield. The path was quiet beside the clanking of metal carabiners that matched the tempo of our stride. Then, abruptly, she handed me her gear and darted up the hill. “Don’t look this way,” she called as I milled around. “And maybe walk on a bit.”

Take two, in Turkey. We had a routine at camp: Morning coffee, breakfast, and milling about. We’d wait for the sun to warm the rock and stir our souls. She had a routine at the crag: Harness on, about to rope up, and a dash off to the woods. It was uncanny and consistent, no matter the efforts made ahead of time. “I think it’s something about the walk here,” she’d begin. “And knowing I’ll be high up on a wall.”

I found it amusing, a touch annoying, and often preposterous in that, “Really? Again, really?” kinda way. But shame on me for expecting a different outcome. Call me mad.

Still, you have to hand it to her. She was always prepared. In the least, she had a package of tissue—a roll of toilet paper at best—and one or two of those fiddly transportable antibac bottles.

Even then, in the presence of an incontinent conspirator, I can’t say I took advantage of the opportunity.


Her preparation has stayed with me. 

Now, always a package of tissue paper in my bag. Rarely antibacterial gel. It seems like a waste of plastic. But certainly water. Always a bottle of water. Which is close enough.

Alas, the time came. (Drumroll, please). A few weeks back I did the deed out of doors. (I’m waiting for your applause).

Walking about an expansive high desert mired by red dusty dirt swirling about red dusty spires, my stomach became tense and fraught with discomfort. There was no way I was holding it in. 

I plopped down behind the cover of a dry dusty shrub. Seek if you will, under pine needles and small stones, lays my forever accomplishment.



In this time of seriousness and tension, her mannerisms for relieving pressing personal needs makes me laugh. That she was ready, inclined, and consistent speaks to her comfort and adaptability in the outdoors. Which I always did admire. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some duty to attend to.

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