5 Things to Do When Nature Calls in Nature

Iran Nomad ToursAdventure Styles5 Things to Do When Nature Calls in Nature

If you don’t go to the wilderness because you don’t know how to answer nature’s call, here is the ABCs of going to the bathroom. We can learn to responsibly enjoy exploring the world. We can learn how to dig a cathole to get rid of the feces when nature calls. We can let them live.

let them (wet & wildness) be left

Gerard Manley Hopkins

When Nature Calls ...

Are you a person with a taste for adventure in the great outdoor? Are you a big fan of adventurous and trekking tours?  If yes, how do you manage when nature calls while you are exploring it? Do you know how to go to the bathrooms that nature has provided? Do you know how to get rid of your urine and feces? Have you ever heard of catholes?

There are some people who believe while we are in nature the whole area is our toilet. For urine, it ‘might’ be true, but when it comes to feces it is totally a different story. Not following the proper methods of disposal of human waste can result in severe pollution in water sources and spreading of diseases. Not everywhere can be used as a toilet if we care about nature.

For an adventurous person who is an avid hiker joining the nomads and following them in their seasonal transhumance (kooch) would be an experience like non-other. But very often travelers ask us about the toilet situation for the time nature calls or if they can take a shower during kooch. Here in this article, it is tried to show you how to take care of nature’s call during kooch in the wilderness without causing problems to others or the environment.

What Is the Toilet Situation Like During the Kooch?

This is probably the most asked question that we get from travelers. To put it simply, there is no civilized toilet option during Kooch (staying with the nomads). We will be camping in the pastures of Zagros mountains and when you get the call of nature, just move away from others, dig a small hole and do it behind a rock. Make sure to always carry a small waste plastic bag to put your used toilet papers or wet-wipes in. Also, the location of your natural toilet should always be at least 50 meters away from the rivers and streams. You should bring a headlamp for when you need to go to the toilet at nights, and always check underneath you so that you won’t be surprised by a thorny bush.

Can We Take a Shower During Kooch?

Following the toilet situation, the next big challenge for most people is the lack of showering during these nature tours. You have to keep in mind that we will be far from any civilization and also in the middle of a very conservative culture. The nomads themselves sometimes go for a dip in the rivers (if the weather allows it) or they might heat up a few pots of water and produce a make-shift shower stall by draping a cloth or a plastic on a stick to have some privacy. That being said, we usually don’t take a shower if the tour is under 7 days. You can bring dry shampoo and wet-wipes and clean your body in the tent as much as possible, or you can take a bath the ways nomads do (if the situation allowed it).

What Should I Do When Nature Calls?

Sometimes while we are in nature, nature calls. By following these 5 simple steps, we can learn how to go to the bathroom when we are in nature.

  1. Find a suitable spot. But what characteristics does a suitable spot have?
    • A proper spot is an inconspicuous private place which is not traveled by people very often.
    • It is a place which is 70 steps away from any water sources, trails and campsites. If we are camping in the same place for more than a night, we should not go to the same place twice.
    • It has easy-to-dig soil.
    • It is in a sunny site where it receives maximum sunlight. Regular sunlight and the heat from the sun help break it down and accelerate the decomposition process.
    • It is in a rich organic fertile soil. The feces decompose faster in such soil. (Rich organic soil is usually dark in color).
    • It is away from roots and large rocks although it may seem more comfortable if we have our back against a rock or a tree.
    • It is not in areas where water visibly flows.
  2. Make a cathole.
  3. Take care of the business.
  4. Clean up ourselves. Better not to use toilet papers but natural materials such as leaves, vegetation, and snow. They are as hygienic as common toilet paper. We just need to get used to them.

    In case we have toilet paper:

    • It is highly recommended to use plain, white, non-perfumed paper.
    • We must not dispose of the paper in the wilderness or put it under a stone, rather we need to pack them out in zip-close plastic bags. It is the best and the only way especially in areas with no rich soil such as mountainous areas.
    • They should either be thoroughly buried in a cathole or packed out. But burning it in a cathole is not recommended.
  5. Fill in the hole with the dirt we have dug up and other natural materials until it looks like the rest of the area.
How & Where to Dig a Cathole

CatHoles: The Most Accepted Method of Waste Disposal

Have you seen how cats dig a hole to bury their poop? This is exactly what we need to do while we are in the wilderness. First, we need to a small garden trowel, rock or stick to dig a hole. The hole should be 6-8 deep and 4-6 inches wide. In areas with no rich soil, better to dig it 4-6 inches deep, so it would be broken down sooner because of the heat and sun.

Here you may find more practical tips about catholes and a convenient pee!

The Lost Art of Peeing in the Woods

We know we must not hold our urine. If we are not justified yet, let’s watch the related Ted Talk. Back then, people used to know how to urinate in nature by instinct, so it wouldn’t be a big deal now. But there are some points which need to be taken into consideration before urinating. According to World Health Organization and CDC [Center for Disease Control] the effects of urine on soil & vegetation is less than the feces, but still it can cause some problems. Urine may result in attracting the animals interested in salt, and this may cause the plants to lose their leaves. So, better to urinate on the bare ground instead of plants. Moreover, it would be a good idea to dilute the urine with water, since it minimizes the negative effects and cuts down on odor. Last but not least, urine and feces should not be mixed, because it delays the decomposition’s process.

You can also read more in:

Leave No Trace: A Guide to the New Wilderness Etiquette by Annette McGivney

How to Shit in the Woods: An environmentally sound approach to a lost art by Kathleen Meyer

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