To Bidet…or not to Bidet?

Screw a hunk of rubber onto your water bottle, walk 200 feet away from the trail as well as any water sources, dig a six-to-eight-inch deep by five-inch wide hole, annnnd GO!

My considerations of using a trail bidet ended there.

My imagination rarely allowed me to take the matter further. But when it did, my concerns could be summed up singularly: contamination.

Splashback. Invisible crawling bacteria on hands, clothes, shoes, not to mention the water bottle.

And I wasn’t clear on what the future held for that poor water bottle? Was I supposed to drink out of it later? Tucking the bidet away, attaching a Sawyer Squeeze, and guzzling pristine water through my filter while tiny unseen friends clambered over each other in a race down the outside of my bottle towards my open mouth?

I’ve eluded the Norovirus so far, and I hope to keep it that way.

Maintaining an aversion to all excretions north and south benefits many a hiker, delaying the seemingly inevitable first bout of sickness. I’ve eluded the Norovirus so far, and I hope to keep it that way. Me sick=whiny baby. Multiply times ten if I have a stomach bug.

If I should ever encounter a stomach bug in the woods, I will not hike, I will not be cheerful and brave. I will pitifully beg startled passersby to feel sorry for me in my time of need. And they will keep hiking, perhaps more quickly. I will ask my sister, Walkie, to get me a ginger ale from the nearest vending machine. I will request that she place her cool hand on my funky forehead, and she will abstain and look on me from afar with love and disgust.

Beware! Do not pull up this cotton candy!

TP lays hidden deep in catholes along trails like urban treasure, even marked on the map of the rolling landscape with vertical sticks which beckon to campers who need kindling for their fire pits. Beware! Do not pull up this cotton candy!

That’s when it’s buried well…or at all. When it’s not, the teeniest bit of rainfall exposes white petals, TP blossoms that adorn the forest floor like a sea of Poppies…poopies? Have I discovered a new species of flora…The Yoga Poopies of Appalachia. Yogae Poopiflora.

Pack Out’Cha Shit

At this time, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy recommends only human waste and toilet paper be placed in your cathole. No wet wipes, no feminine products, etc. And this only applies below tree line. Above tree line, you have to pack out even toilet paper.

But how long does toilet paper take to biodegrade? It has been difficult for me to locate reliable statistics. Various experts report as few as five weeks or as long as three years.

I imagine finding a consensus on this topic is complicated by the number of considerations which affect the process of decomposition including altitude, terrain, average rainfall, ground temperature, soil acidity, and about ten other factors that geologists and weathermen understand, and I don’t.

Despite conflicting data and opinion, “Leave No Trace” principles seem to at least hint at leaning to the side of packing out toilet paper, tree line or not.

At some point in the very near and inevitable future, it is looking more and more like the responsible, sustainable, and respectful thing to do, will be to pack out your used TP, be it in a Ziplock bag or empty peanut butter jar, whatever floats your trash boat.

But do they work?

I already use more than my fair share of our TP as it is, and my sister points this out to me whenever we nearly run out. What if I didn’t have to pack it in or out? Or at least, what if I needed less?

What if a little dab would do me after a trail bidet leaves me tidy and sparkling?

And according to my unofficial data gathering methods–obsessively absorbing content from all outdoor media outlets, print and digital–trail bidets work. That is, they efficiently and effectively clean bottoms of all sorts.

And with a little practice, splash back can be kept to a minimum. I imagine, in a pinch, you could even work the transition from bidet-to-water-filter, but otherwise, opt for a separate bathroom-system bottle, just in case.

Given all these considerations: sustainability, preserving the aesthetics of our shared forests, cleanliness, packing in TP, packin’ out my shit, the very low cost and light weight of trail bidets. The choice seemed clear.

So, I bought my first trail bidet. I will plant no new Yogae Poopiflora seedlings in April, even if it is spring.

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Comments 7

  • Christine Martin : Feb 11th

    Walkie here! So you have noticed I call you out for using a majority of our toilet paper? ? Question posing time ?: For hikers who travel in a group and share TP, do you find you are the one who uses the most or least in your group?

    • Myrt, a Yoga Sister : Feb 12th

      Hahaha…yeah, good question 🙂 Hikers, please answer Walkie’s question.

      I kind of wonder if trail bidets will become the next “bear cannister” where people reluctantly adapt to new trail practices, basically due to trail use increasing all the time?

    • Myrt, a Yoga Sister : Feb 12th

      Also, tell Curtis about the Trail Bidet article being up. He seemed grossed out and intrigued lol

  • Jared : Feb 14th

    I myself just got my first Culo Clean bidet for hiking this year! It’s so gosh darn tiny and cute, I’m having a hard time believing it will do the trick! But, practice makes…well, hopefully better, at least! That’s awesome you are trying something new to help with LNT! Rock on, happy hiking!

    • Myrt, a Yoga Sister : Feb 14th

      Aww, thank you for your encouraging and kind words! I really think trying new things every time I hike is just a lot of fun. Happy hiking to you, too!!! 🙂

  • Sparks : Mar 5th

    You still will need TP to dry yourself.

    • Myrt, a Yoga Sister : Mar 5th

      Good note! Yes, definitely.


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