Pooping on the Appalachian Trail: Important Statistics from My Thru-Hike

I believe that the best way to share the story of a thru-hike is with poop. There’s lots of talk about white blazing or blue blazing, but I believe life on trail is all about the brown blazing. You want to talk about resupplies? I’d rather talk about desupplies. I thru-hiked the AT from February 25 to July 10 this year, logging 125 hiking days, 10 zero days, and most importantly, 195 poops. I logged these poops using the app Poop Map and noted the location, a rating out of five stars, the setting (e.g. privy or cathole), and a brief qualitative description. After thorough analysis, I’d like to present a scat-istical analysis of the life of a thru-pooper.

Some Notes on Methods

  1. I considered the section of trail on the North Carolina/Tennessee border a part of NC.
  2. I committed the mortal sin of forgetting to rate my poop five times over the course of the hike. These poops were not included in graphs relating to ratings.
  3. In “Average Number of Miles Between Poops (Poops/Mile),” data was calculated by dividing the number of poops by the number of miles in a state. The flaw to this formula can be clearly seen in the West Virginia datapoint, as there are only 3.1 miles of trail in that state, providing a misleadingly low number.
  4. Poop ratings were made at the time of the poop. They are based on overall experience, and are a reflection of a number of factors including feeling, results, scenery, ambiance, and mood.

Here is a screenshot of my PoopMap app. Yes, it’s epic. Yes, I’ve been using and enjoying this app unironically for almost three years now so I do have some poops that are not from my thru hike.

KABOOM with Virginia! At least 2/47 would not have happened without Fresh Grounds. Despite my best attempts, I failed the Massive Two Shits Challenge miserably (though I only pooped twice in the 100 mile wilderness, which is arguably cooler).

High mileage, frequent towns, and several zeroes are to blame for the high numbers in PA. Frequent huts leading to a higher availability of restrooms resulted in high numbers in NH.

I was very inconsistent with my mileage and my poops. See Note #3.

The north took longer, which also made it poopier.

 

Most poops on trail are awesome experiences. That being said, a five or a one star poop are rare ratings due to my high standards for either.

I believe that GA had such good poops because that was the honeymoon phase of shitting on trail. My diet was certainly the least bad and I was still not used to the purity of hiking poops. NJ was tough. That being said, a low sample size is likely to blame for its low average. In fact, NJ had the highest standard deviation for poop ratings (1.53).

This is the most surprising data I formulated. Looking back on it, I’ve theorized several reasons why so many poops took place in restrooms. First, I went into just about every town. Most were short stops (in and out the same day), but I would enjoy a town poop every couple days. I also pooped more frequently in towns, and went out of my way to utilize restrooms. In fact, I pooped 12 times at the Yellow Deli (sorry!!!).

The high portapotty rating can be attributed to a low sample size (every one of the 5 poops were rated 4 stars). The ranking of the other three settings make sense: restrooms are better than privies which are better than catholes. However, the difference between these ratings is small due to the fact that setting is just a small part of a poop’s overall rating.

About the Author

Hi, my name is Slurpee! After graduating high school in 2021, I hiked the Long Trail and decided I would never do another thru-hike. Exactly seven months later, I started the Appalachian Trail and completed it in July 2022. When I’m not hiking, I make sure to stay active by partaking in other sports such as eating, sleeping, and pooping.

Featured image: Graphic design by Chris Helm (@chris.helm).

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Comments 23

  • Mr Hankey : Aug 2nd

    Not to sound like a party pooper… Such a crappy article. Lol. Nah, it didn’t stink that bad. Time to wash my hands of it. ?

    Reply
  • Russ1663 : Aug 3rd

    Well Slurpee, that was an interesting “data download”. Didn’t know there was an app thought for some reason it does not surprise me. Best of trail luck on your next adventure

    Reply
  • Eric Krieg : Aug 3rd

    What an awesome analysis. It is important to properly dispose of what would be around half your weight in excrement. Having done most all the AT, I can get how more than half his defecation was in a real bathroom

    Reply
  • CAPT Gary Andres USN ret : Aug 5th

    Amigo, this just ain’t right! (I’m kidding, man….I really laughed at your article!). I’m retired Navy, and retired federal wildlife officer….so I think I can say, with some credibility, your ability to accurately account for your deposits, recording your stats, and the perfection you gave to the details, is to be applauded. I do believe, my friend, with all sincerity, that you indeed, have a future in “government”! I’m a failed thru-hiker…now a committed section hiker. The reason that I “failed”, as an old Navy aircraft back injury flared up “ten miles from nowhere”….and I started looking at the trail as a 2200 mile long “Petri dish-frat party”. That said, I found 99% of the folks I met along the trail, to be outstanding youngsters (and a few oldsters ) which somewhat restored my faith in people….and after my second career in natural resource law enforcement, I needed that! Again, a humorous article….with some wisdom and advice to new backpackers integrated. Nice job….and much congrats on your successful Thru-hike journey! I sincerely, wish you many more safe journeys…and do so while you are young….before access to Metamucil becomes mandatory!

    Reply
  • Turtle Man : Aug 5th

    Wow, quite the data dump! Impressive record keeping. Everyone does it, but few talk about it, especially in this much detail. Appreciate the endeavor.

    Found it interesting that the number of cat hole disposals was relatively low compared to what i might have expected. Missing from the data pool was time time of day for the event. For me, i’m a once-or-twice-in-the-morning guy, soon after waking up and before/after having something to eat, then i’m good for the day. So, most poop events would be happening near those places i was camped. Since i try to avoid staying at shelters, this would mostly mean cat holes in dispersed-camping areas (without any privy).

    I’m also curious about what criteria factored into the rating evaluation. Views? Sense of relief? Having adequate t.p. on hand?

    Related: I’ve found that a portable bidet device (CuloClean, for example) are a game changer for keeping the nethers fresh and clean on the trail.

    Reply
  • Kristin : Aug 5th

    What is the two poop challenge, I’m very by intrigued. My husband thought this was TMI, I on the other hand loved this article!

    Reply
  • Buck : Aug 8th

    Great article! And always good to get more A.T. mgt. data. On your next hike, I’d love to see you add your ratings for use of WAG bags. And, as someone else wondered, do catholes always correlate with overnights where there was no privy? I’ll check out the app you mention to see about the rating system. Thx!

    Reply
  • scope : Aug 13th

    Pics or it didn’t happen!

    Reply
  • Anette : Dec 31st

    Great article, Slurpee! Just like Kristin above, I loved it. As Turtle Man commented, I am also a bit surprised that the proportion of cat hole disposals was so low. I have never walked the AT, but every year I walk for some weeks different paths in Europe. I have never made such an extensive overview over my toilet visits when hiking as you have. But last summer I made a mark in my log for every time I had to relieve myself during a thru-hike. I was walking the GR10. It took me 62 days (61 nights). I slept 49 nights in a tent and 12 in hostels or refuges. When I now count up the marks in my log, it adds up to a total of 92 defecations, which is around 1.48 per day on average. That means most days once or twice. Only one day with three marks, and two days without any mark.

    I have not jotted down any other details, for example on type of toilet etc. But trying to remember back, I will estimate that over 2/3, perhaps 3/4 of the toilet visits were done outdoor, a few at refuges or hostels and some at available privies along the trail. I tend to feel the urge when I have been walking for 1 to 2 hours, and possibly once more about 1 hour after lunch. At those times I am typically somewhere along the trail, far away from any facilities, leaving squatting as the only option.

    I don’t know the Poop Map rating system, but judged from what is written above, I think most experiences could be rated 4 or even 5, except those at refuges or hostels when waiting in a line (2). An certainly those few occasions (luckily only two or three) when another hiker accidentally showed up when it had to be done outside, should be rated 1!

    Next summer I am planning a long distance bike ride with a close friend. We will bike for some 30 days. I’ll suggest for her that we should work out a detailed overview. She is very fond of statistics!

    Reply
  • Jan : Jul 14th

    I loved this. Though It would be a pipe dream to only hike 1.7x a day, unfortunately, on the trail, I average 5x a day, sometimes up to about 7….But most experiences were about a 4….Happy Trails

    Reply
  • Jhonyermo : Jul 14th

    I think you need to see a psychiatrist You have and anal, rectal, fecal obsession.
    This article seems to have been written by someone as goofy as an outhouse rat.

    Reply
  • Katie : Aug 16th

    This summer 8 weeks on trail, that is 56 days. Sleeping in a tent. No thorough statistics, only marks made in my diary. 87 marks made, that is about 1.6 every day. Facilities (not specified) 26, non-facilities (aka “cat-hole”) 61 (>70%). Rating, no notes made, but looking back usually 4. Some at sunrise 5! A handful when someone accidentally passed by (peeing squats included), possibly 1 or 2 (I became more robust as days went on.)

    Reply
  • Jeff : Nov 17th

    I love this *crap* nobody talks about. Your name makes me laugh, ’cause my son calls diarrhea the “slurppies.”

    I don’t mind crapping in the woods, but I’d prefer a toilet or at least a sit-down area. It’s actually nice to see a cathole won’t be as often as I thought.

    Reply
    • Jeff : Nov 17th

      Oh, and I’m considering (based on evidence) you never got norovirus?

      Reply
  • William (Billy) : Dec 28th

    Amusing! No need for “Slurpee” to see a psychiatrist! He, and other commentators here, just put into words thoughts and observations that many of us have had during long distance hiking. Necessary visits to a (mostly non-existent) toilet are a daily challenge when out there. Sometimes it may be felt convenient to talk about it, saying hey, now I have to go to toilet. At least this paradoxically is a safe method for securing a high level of privacy! (Nobody will follow after you!) But more often it is kept as a “top-secret” mission: How to sneak away unnoticed? (When you spot someone deviating from the path into the bushes, you know why! It is mostly not for taking pictures.) How to find a place where nobody will find you squatting with shorts at the knees? (Especially not the sporty young woman you chatted with last night.) How to avoid walking in on some others from your group? (Sure you know that the grey haired grandma also has such needs, but decency dictates that you’d rather like not to discover her with a bare ass behind a boulder.) But keeping high standards of privacy, should not make us refrain from discussing the subject.

    Reply
  • aina : Jan 19th

    Feel free to say that I should have been better prepared. Inexperienced hiker, yes exactly. It’s one thing to pee in the open, but to poop!?? I still remember the feeling when it dawned on me that, yes, really, I, a 64-year-old woman, had no other choice. Between the trees of the forest it had to happen. Crouching down, in that unmistakable position. No door to lock. Amazingly, I got used to it and can smile about it now.

    Reply

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