Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Leave No Trace It's Tissue Burning Time

If you require a proper restroom facility for your travels, daily showers, electrical outlets, mirrors or most modern conveniences sea kayaking and camping on the Johnstone Straight is not for you.  We learned on our first tour of camp that they practice a "leave no trace" policy in relation to the loo.  To keep the area free from human pollution, negative ecological impact and the spreading of disease a cat hole is dug at least 200 feet away from water sources, camp and trails.  In the case of our camp sites almost every cat hole location was quite a hike in its self.

Each facility was basically a cat hole covered with pallets forming a crude base, a wooden pedestal and a plastic potty seat.  In addition a coffee can was provided for burning of paper goods once you were finished with the facilities.  Also each potty location was covered with a tarp but was completely open on all sides.   

The protocol was that a small dry bag full of toilet paper and matches was left at the head of the trail to the loo.  If the bag was there you were in luck and could head to the facilities.  However, if the bag was gone that meant that someone was already using the bathroom.  You can see Martin above with the infamous bag.  We did have one rather amusing situation when the back up bag was placed at the trail head and the poor unsuspecting loo user was stumbled upon by a second user in possession of the back up dry bag.  We won't mention any names.  This system also required you to plan your trips to the loo.  If you waited too long you could be in a world of hurt and if you went too soon you could occupy the site and keep others waiting. 

After years and years of camping we are a-okay with cat holes and following important waste disposal guidelines.  Although the burning of the toilet paper was a new concept to us.  One thing we did not anticipate was the recommendation of using the shoreline at low tide to piddle.  None of our  lunch stops included cat hole facilities and the guidelines were simple for the men to comply with.  However, the gals were always in search of washed up logs, large rocks or bushes to hide behind to conceal us dropping our drawers.  After about a day of this you learn quickly to just look the other direction and ignore everyone peeing around you.  It never failed that I would get up very early to potty and all of a sudden I would realize that someone had joined me on the beach for the same reason.  Again you just look out to the ocean and wait for them to finish.  You get to know your fellow travelers very well this way.


  1. Thank you SO much for these posts Kelly! Mark and I look forward to the next one each time we read a new one. They are bringing back such lovely memories and helping the trip stay fresh in our minds. You have a wonderful way of telling the details. I have just sent some links to my parents who I know will love hearing of our adventure! It was brilliant sharing the experience with you and Tony and I wish we could do it all over again, Chris your fellow kayaker!

  2. Chris thank you so much for your kind comments. I loved the pictures Mark posted for all of us to view and share and his account of our mileage. I just got back from a 6 day trip to Las Vegas and southern California so I am a bit behind on things. As you can tell my life is an insane spin of adventures, art and everything in-between. So thrilled that we were able to enjoy the adventure together and wish you two were camping with us this weekend. You would love the Sawtooth mountains!


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