New information has come out, and was published in my local paper today, about contamination near a hot springs in the White River National Forest.

Conundrum Hot Springs is located about 8 miles up the Conundrum Creek trail and is fairly well-known as a “hippie dip.” People hike there to enjoy the beautiful views and natural hot springs and will often camp nearby.  The problem is that those day visitors (and I’m assuming some campers too) aren’t following proper backcountry protocol when it comes to taking care of business.

All bathroom activities should take place at least 200 ft away from water sources.

All bathroom activities should take place at least 200 ft away from water sources.

Because of this, forest rangers are now being forced to waste their time hiking up the trail to clean up after us humans. That’s right, to keep the hot springs bacteria-free forest rangers are having to be human pooper-scoopers.  Come on backcountry visitors! We’re better than this!

So in case the beauty of a natural hot springs has temporarily left you bereft of the rules of pooping in the woods, here’s a reminder:

1. Pack the following for your bathroom visits: toilet paper or even squares of paper towels, a sturdy trowel, a tiny container of hand sanitizer, plastic bags for packing out your toilet paper, or matches for burning it.  Please don’t just bury it because it will rise to the surface at some point and put a damper on some other camper’s trip.

2. Get as far away from water as you can.  200+ ft is a great start.

3. Find a comfortable spot with soil that is easy to dig in (this is often easier said than done).  Dig a hole at least 6 inches deep and several inches wide.

4. Some people like to find rocks to sit on or trees to hang on to, but often just squatting is the easiest way to take care of things.

5. When you’re finished make sure to fill and cover your hole with dirt.  Wrap your used paper with a small piece of clean paper and put it in a plastic bag.

6. Use that sanitizer to prevent dysentery among you and your friends.

Was that hard? It’s not the most pleasant thing in the world, no.  Still, if we don’t follow proper rules and procedures like these in the backcountry we’re doing a disservice to ourselves and our fellow backpackers.  Do your part and keep the wilderness clean!

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