Is Nature Calling?
- Travelers Mtn
Between 30,000 and 35,000 people hike Katahdin each year with many more on other mountains. Katahdin has the largest collection of rare, threatened and endangered species found at any single location in Maine. Human waste in the alpine zone, near water and on trails contaminates water sources, increases the spread of disease through human, insect and animal contact and visually affects numerous visitors’ experiences. Fortunately, each of us can adopt new practices that will protect these areas from further damage:
Please use outhouses where available prior to your hike. When needing to urinate and no outhouse is around, avoid vegetation – choose rocks or gravel to minimize plant and soil damage from wildlife defoliating plants and digging for human salts.
If below treeline with no outhouse, get off trail at least 200 feet, or as far as you can away from any water source. Using a trowel or your heel dig a cathole about 6 inches deep so the soil will help with decomposition. When finished, cover and disguise the hole with natural materials. Carrying out your toilet paper in a ziplock bag is the best choice but if you are not prepared, bury it deep in the hole and cover or use natural items such as leaves and put them in the hole before burying.
If above treeline and nature calls, please do not dig a cathole, as the plants are rare and soils in the alpine zone are thin. Instead, rock hop off trail approximately 200 feet or as far as possible from any water source and go on top of the gravel or bare ground, so the weather can help with decomposition. Carry out your toilet paper in a ziplock bag.
Outhouses – Please deposit only human waste and toilet paper in the pit or vault toilets. Carry out personal hygiene products, disposable diapers and leftover food products. These products when deposited in pit or vault toilets interfere with the composting process and clog the pumps used to empty the vaults. They also introduce nondegradable material and fill toilets quickly. Rangers can provide carry out litter bags.