Anonymous Hiker Poop Stories [Part 2]
A few weeks ago we put out a call for backpacking poop stories shared anonymously, the idea being that anyone that had ever spent an extended period of time in the backcountry had at least one story of the cathole tango going awry. To prove that point, we got a lot of submissions. So many in fact, that there was no way they could all fit into our first article—or even the second. There are still more where these came from.
While poop stories are never funny for hikers in the moment, they do serve as campfire fodder for years to come and are the basis of roughly 25% of hiker conversation. Given their highly sacred place in the backpacking world, we felt obligated to give as many poop stories their moment in the sun as possible. As a result, welcome to Anonymous Poop Stories: Part 2.
Note that although pooping in the woods can be funny, disregarding the principles of Leave No Trace is not. Occasionally emergencies happen, but this does not give one free will to disregard these principles. Please do(o) remember to:
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Wet Wipes are not biodegradable. If you use Wet Wipes (even the flushable kind), you need to pack them out.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap.
Anonymous Hiker Poop Stories
Edition #2 (hehe)
A Bare Poops in the Woods
A brisk pace had been ingrained into my gait from spending over four months hiking nearly every day through the Appalachian Mountains. After the road crossing, I knew I had 10 miles until I would reach my next camping destination where I could finally take my slumber.
Without warning, I rounded the next bend in the trail only to see a sight which will be burned into my memory until I slip into the afterlife. The man must have sauntered no more than 15 feet away from America’s most visited footpath to answer nature’s call. His pale, bare hindquarters stared me in the face as if it were an MMA during a championship weigh-in. My eyes widened. My heart sank.
Turning around and walking the opposite direction wasn’t an option; I couldn’t speak out to the man because, for the breath had been exhumed from my lungs by his brash decision to poison my memory with his coordinates of choice with which to defecate. My only option was to quickly hike past the man and hope I would never see him again. To this day, the memory lingers.
-2014 AT Thru-Hiker
The Primitive Way
A story worth telling? Probably not, but I still take the chance. Once when visiting USA I was invited by a friend and his wife to join them for a couple of days on the AT. I was not prepared at all and I had never before gone to toilet (# 2) the primitive way. I had a steep learning curve.
Already the first evening I found out the rough way that there would be no toilet at every shelter. When arriving there I had been looking around for a toilet without finding one. So when the wife of my friend said that she had to visit the toilet I said (how stupid is it possible to be?) that I would follow so that I could see where it was!
She looked a bit surprised but did not object. She had the toilet pack in her hand and we walked away. I do not exactly remember how, but suddenly it came to my mind that, well, there would be no toilet around. I remember her saying something like here we should look for some suitable spots with sufficient privacy. She took a bunch of paper off the roll and gave the roll to me. The rest of the story shall not be told, but I have to say that we had a debrief afterwards where I had to admit that this was my first outdoor poop.
-2009 AT Section Hiker
I was Southbound in New York very late in the season, and the leaves were just starting to thin out. I was pleasantly surprised to come across an Oktoberfest celebration at Bear Mountain and enjoyed a few cheeseburgers and beers before heading up the mountain, which I was surprised to find packed with tourists at the top.
On the way down, the burgers and beer let me know it was time, but I was still in the midst of the tourist horde, so I headed much further off trail to compensate for the thinning leaf cover. I found the perfect log to perch over and was in the middle of a very productive squat when, to my amazement, a large family armed with high-powered cameras emerged from behind a clump of bushes not 20 feet in front of me.
I had been so eager to get away from the trail that I had cut across an entire quarter mile switchback, and had ended up peacefully pooping right alongside the trail. That family went home with photos of a very strange and rare wild specimen: hiker trash in its natural habitat.
-2008 AT Thru-Hiker
Gardening for Poison Ivy
I had just left Petersburg, VA and was carefully walking a section of trail that went through woods that had the most dense poison-ivy covered forest floor I’ve ever seen. I can only describe it as a field of poison ivy. It almost looked like someone had deliberately planted it to keep people away from their still or a pot farm. I was recalling a very bad (and very stupid) poison ivy poop incident when I was 18 and thinking “I have not had even the mildest case of poison ivy infection since then. I wonder if the severity of that incident made me not allergic to poison ivy…” Then I realized that the beer and junk food I had excessively consumed in Petersburg was about to take its toll. Now. Right now.
I stood in the middle of the trail trying to fight off the explosion for about 30 seconds and trying to decide if I was gonna run through this field of poison ivy or just drop trou right there on the trail. I knew there would be someone coming behind me any minute and I knew it was gonna be ugly. So I said “screw it” and broke into a trot through the field of poison ivy.
I stopped in a spot 50 feet from the trail and, as carefully as I could, I started pulling up plants by the stem. I was trying to clear enough space to squat without these awful plants touching my tender butt. I was trying not to touch the leaves, because I knew I was going to have to touch some tender flesh and I didn’t want my hands covered with poison ivy resin.
Well… I have since learned that virtually ALL the resin is, in fact, on the stems, not leaves. So my hands were absolutely COATED with poison ivy resin. And I learned pretty quickly that my incident 20 years earlier did NOT make me immune to poison ivy reaction. So the next few weeks were a lot less comfortable than I had hoped, but somehow I persevered.
-2010 AT Thru-Hiker
I was in Virginia doing some easy 13-mile days. The shelter I planned to stay at didn’t have any good hammock spots (a first), so I headed up a long climb until I found a nice unofficial site that I could tell had been used before. I set up and made dinner as other hikers came past, saying hello as they continued on. I saw what looked like a large ZipLock in the woods and went to check it out. It was someone’s poo supply bag that had been left behind. It had the essentials. Paper, hand sanitizer, a tampon and at the bottom, a Deuce of Spades. I had been coveting one of these for awhile now, but was way too cheap to drop the $20 they cost, so I fished it out and took the DOS for myself. I eagerly anticipated digging my cat hole the next morning and I was not disappointed.
-2018 AT LASHer
It was a few days into my thru-hike and I hadn’t pooped yet because I was scared to poop in the woods. I had never done it. Well on that particular day (we were in Georgia) we had passed some hunters in the woods with bright orange vests. They were using this weird whistle thing to attract the turkeys. It had been a little while since we saw them and I really had to go. I walked for a while before finding “the perfect spot,” and pulled down my pants. Just as I was about to poop I heard the noise, the same noise as those turkey hunter’s whistles. I panicked and tried to pull up my pants, and as I was fumbling to get them up an actual turkey started sprinting at me out of nowhere, gobbling maliciously. I never finished pooping. That was my first pooping experience on the AT.
-2017 AT Thru-Hiker
A Rotten Break
I found a nice fallen tree in New York. It was the perfect size to sit on and let my butt hang off the end and take a very comfortable poop. I dropped shorts and sat off the end of the tree and in an instant, fell right through it. It was completely rotten on the inside. Everyone heard the tree break and me fall to the ground. I had to remove a splinter from my hand and butt that night.
-2012 AT Thru-Hiker
Guthooks promised a Park Service john at a particular road crossing, so I held it to take advantage of the promised facilities. When I get there, no john. I look around for 20 minutes. In all that time not a single car passed. My need was getting fairly dire at this point, so I started looking for a place. The only place I could get to was within sight of the road. I thought “ Haven’t seen a single car, why not?” Dig my hole and drop a squat. Car comes around the bend and I can’t do anything given where was in the process. The driver waved as she drove by. I’m shaking my head, taking care of the paperwork and a second car goes by… they waved too.
-2016 AT Section Hiker
By Pennsylvania, I had grown tired of most of the foods I had been eating, especially the different kinds of dried fruit. So to mix it up, I grabbed a box of prunes. With my hiker hunger in full force, I went through the entire box of prunes in two days. You can guess the results.
-2011 AT Thru-Hiker
LNT (No Excuses)
My husband and I share a shovel and TP, etc. On this particular morning he took off with our hiking buddy and they didn’t take a break for six freaking miles. I finally caught them, grabbed the poo kit, found some semblance of privacy in the desert, and did my biz. Upon standing up to complete my LNT practices, I saw it. There was a coiled-up rattler about two feet from my bare ass. It was the highest stakes poo burial of my life.
-2017 PCT Thru-Hiker
We called it The Game. Everyone was playing the game whether they knew it or not, only way to lose was to poop your pants. It was NORO, or too much greasy food in town, or to much booze we hiker out, but everyone lost eventually.
-2014 AT Thru-Hiker
Be A Muir
Standing among the glorious peaks dotting the horizon that is Section J, I felt a great sense of joy flow through my soul. Peaks invigorate the human spirit. Freeze-dried food invigorates the human gut. Looking at my maps I determined I was within reasonable distance to a pit toilet at the Snoqualmie trailhead. As John Muir eloquently said sitting among the Sierra Nevada, “I must go.”
I charged down the trailhead with a mission greater than reaching the US/Mexico border: poop in a toilet, not a hole. Nature’s fury put an end to my goal as it does many thru-hikers when I was three miles from the mighty porcelain throne when I felt my stomach violently pushing its way down into my pants.
A storm was coming and shelter had to be taken. I charged through razor sharp bushes and spider webs and desperately dug the hole that would save my loins. I barely escaped with my life—more importantly—my dignity.
All this to say I almost shit my pants because freeze-dried food is the worst. I also got itchy rashes from those bushes. If ya gotta go, just go. Don’t be a boor, be a Muir.
-2018 PCT Thru-Hiker
Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.
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