Toilets on the Jordan trail

I’m walking 640km across Jordan, and the days are counting down remarkably fast. The point of the trek is not only to challenge myself but to raise funds for @MSF_UK as I’ve written about extensively, start at number one and work on through to ten. If you believe in MSF’s work around the world or simply like my blog please head over to my just giving page and donate a few Pounds, Euro, Shillings or dollars to the cause.

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The Jordan trail website does have information on “facilities” on most stages of the trail. To summaries – if there is a village with a cafe/shop/hotel you can find a toilet wild camping means wild toileting. I have no idea what condition to expect the toilets to be in, but it’ll never be worse than Kyrgyzstan market and roadside stops so I’m not worried and I’ve lived in Asia long enough not to worry about squatters either. In fact if they are maintained and clean I prefer them to public sit downs.

Swaziland – Bath”room” with a view

Usual rules of travel apply – always carry toilet paper, if you see a basket, dispose of the paper there and do not flush as it will probably block the pipes.

When wild camping – leave no trace. That includes scatological traces. You are basically trying to minimalise disease transmission, so do what you can to avoid animals or humans coming into contact with your poop. And secondly – poop is gross, nobody wants to see a pile of poo or toilet paper flags, next to a great camp spot. While reading my 101 adventure books I’ve picked up some tips:

Step by step how to poop in the desert!

  1. Wait until you really need to go – digging a hole and finding out you didn’t really need to go would be annoying
  2. Find a secluded spot away from the trail/camp, but don’t go so far that you get lost and die alone off trail unable to find your way back 150 -200m should be fine. Biggest concern is it’s a desert, there wont be many friendly placed shrubs for cover when I need to go.
  3. Don’t poop near water sources
  4. Check the ground for stabby twigs, stinging plants, cactus, biting insects, snakes, scorpions and other hazards, don’t choose a hill or cliff edge where falling over is a possibility
  5. Make sure you have toilet paper or other wiper handy, not buried in your pack
  6. Dig a cat hole – dig it bigger than you think you need.
  7. Aim carefully into the hole
  8. Leave no trace says burying TP is acceptable but best practice is to, put it into a dedicate waste bag and pack it out. Burning might be ok some places, if it is safe to do so… don’t start a wildfire.
  9. Bury your poop and disguise the disturbed earth

Biggest fear is getting the “Wadi runs”

Getting the runs even in a city can be a nightmare – you don’t want to go more than a few steps away from the nearest bathroom and ask any traveler and they will probably bury you with horrific poop stories. Talk to a travelling lab scientist and you get other poop stories…

The problems:

Increased Urgency – oh dear god I have to go now and there is no time for 1-7 above. Shit happens, now you need to deal with it remembering you need to minimalise risk of disease spread, especially important if you are actually sick, you don’t want those bacteria and parasites in your poop spreading via animals or entering a water source.

Increased frequency – pooping 10 times a day is going to be a boring drama, yes you have to go through all the steps every time.

Sharts – the fart which follows through. Of anything I can’t think of worse than accidentally pooping on yourself, having little access to water and having to keep walking! Don’t worry it will make an excellent “traveler horror story” one day

Solutions – anti-pooping drugs (Imodium), antibiotics, lots of water and replace lost salts

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So peeing should be simpler right? Yes and no.

Follow 1-5 squat and go then pack out your TP in a zip lock or use a pee rag. Seriously, women on long trails use a pee rag to avoid the TP issue. It’s a bandanna or material dedicated to wiping and tied on the back of your pack for the sun to dry and sterilize. It makes sense, but takes a bit of getting used to – perhaps not as much as packing out used TP.

The worst scenario is always the night time pee. The pee walk distance is inversely proportional to the temperature and correlated to the darkness of the night and proximity to others. I.e need to pee on a freezing, moonless night while camping alone you will barely leave the tent.

On that note can any women tell me if they have mastered the tent pee bottle?

So Claudia – thanks for asking, I hope that answers your question and then some!


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