Reiley and I had company on our Mt. Whitney training hike yesterday. Two of my other children, 16-year-old Quentin and seven-year-old Olivia, and family friends joined us for what was billed as a
"super easy short hike" to 8,201-foot Bertha Peak near Big Bear. It was actually a moderate seven-mile hike that culminated with a strenuous climb up a steep access road to the summit.
Olivia had to “go” well before we reached the almost-two-mile marker where the Cougar Creek and Pacific Crest Trails meet. After several unsuccessful attempts to assist our youngest hiker in mastering the art of peeing outside, I gave up and hoped she’d hold it until we could get back to the trail head located right across the parking lot from the
Big Bear Discovery Center. When Olivia parked her skinny behind on bench intended for taking in views of the lake, and proceeded to tell us repeatedly and in increasingly frantic tones that she "just" wanted to potty indoors and it "doesn't feel better" to keep walking, I thought it prudent to regroup. The teens went ahead to the peak, while the adults waited with Olivia, with the intention of hiking to the peak once the older kids returned to "run" Olivia back.
Though my co-leader, Don, would protest, I swear the kid's ensuing tantrum could be heard back in town. Ever sensitive to my fellow hikers, when one of them was prompted by Olivia's despair to offer tips on the "buddy system" option for peeing outside, I nearly waivered, grabbed the little monster's hand, and marched her back to the trail head. But then I would have missed Don's valiant attempt to reason with Olivia to the tune of, "opting to pee in the woods is very likely less uncomfortable than 'holding it.'"
And...I would have deprived Olivia of, finally, and desperately, if not willingly, peeing in the woods - back up against a tree, or "throne," with a view of the valleys below.
Her business complete, we continued up the trail, passing the teens on their way back and trailing Olivia to the peak. "We made it!" she exclaimed, looking "back" at us as we finished the climb.
The Girls' Guide to Peeing Outside offers the following advice:
- Find a secluded spot to do your business that is at least 200 feet away from flowing water.
- Avoid slopes, so that liquid landing on the ground does not flows towards your shoes.
- Bring toilet paper with you if possible.
- Never let your pants drop past your knees, or you’ll have to explain the wet spot to your friends.
And it provides this handy list of top-rated positions for peeing in the woods:
The Squat: Move you feet apart to find a good balance, pull your pants down but not past your knees. Crouch/ squat down as if you are sitting in a very low chair. Use one hand to pull your pants which are around your knees towards your knee caps to keep everything out of the line of fire. Make sure you keep your bottom out and low. Just think of yourself as sitting on a very low chair or stool.
The Buddy System (referenced above): Stand face to face with a friend or family member who isn't freaked out about seeing you pee, and lock hands. Then lean away from each other and squat so that your thighs are parallel to the ground. And go!
The Throne (Olivia's preferred method): Press your back against a tree, so that your thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure your feet are squarely planted on the ground so that you are sitting on an imaginary throne.
The Tripod (Buddy System with a tree): Find a tree with a thinner trunk (but not a sapling that may not support you) and grip it tightly. Your feet should be at the base of the tree. Stick your bottom out and go.
The Assist: Sit down on a fallen log, stump, or rock and scoot forward as far as you can without falling off and let loose.
Girls' Guide: http://www.camptrip.com/going-camping/camping-how-to/peeing-outside-for-girls/
Post on Climbing Bertha Peak: http://sevensummitsofbigbear.blogspot.com/2009/04/bertha-peak.html
REI guide on hiking with children: http://sevensummitsofbigbear.blogspot.com/2009/04/bertha-peak.html