A Day in the Life: Backcountry Poop


Craig Tsao, originally from New Jersey, spent the Winter driving big-rigs across the country. He hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2014 and is currently prepping for a 2016 Pacific Crest Trail venture!

From his AT Trail Journal: June 02, 2014

Last night was almost tent city status. I only say that because traffic on the AT has been so slim and spread out since Damascus. Good group of guys were here including Shroomer, Mocha Pot, Sweet Tea, Weatherman, and I believe I’m forgetting 2-4 others. Apparently there was a “debacle” around 10pm when everyone had already gotten inside their tents. I had camped higher up than anybody and remember I heard some sort of larger animal come sneaking in towards camp. When someone else heard it, they thought it was a bear and stirred up half the camp to investigate. I didn’t pay any attention and would have entirely forgot about it but Mocha Pot told me how he didn’t bother getting up because the situation was happening on the far side away from him. Shroomer was right in the middle of it with the attitude along the lines of, “Well I’m already laying down. If something is going to eat me I guess I’m going to get eaten.” Everyone who did get up learned that it was just a deer. Go figure.

The first section of the day was really nice since we had already climbed down most of the mountain we were currently on and the following miles were like a bowl as we went through the James River area. Couldn’t resist jumping into the creek and enjoying the cool water. Lots of good places to take a dip in around here! Unfortunately as I started nearing the base of the next mountain I started getting eaten up by the tiniest of flies. Didn’t know those things bite, so that kind of sucked.

I was sweating so hard by the time I reached a nice spot to have lunch that I decided to just whip out a razor I was carrying and give myself a shave. Worked out tremendously well and I believe my hitch hiking success chances were at an all time high with my buzzed head and clean shaven lovable face.

The downside of today was still dealing with the consequences of an overweight pack even though I had already consumed a couple days of food. I could handle the weight just fine but my pack has been having problems. The hip strap loosens every other minute because it slips through the buckles like silk, which is ridiculous. But it seems like this is never a problem if my pack is under ~40lbs which is when I can basically run without it bouncing ridiculously hard all over the place.

In other news, I decided to create a poop alert color system. Just like how our government has a color system for national threats. Mine only has 3 levels.

Green shall be when everything is good in the neighborhood (your gut) so that there are no surprises and there’s a such thing as poo:thirty. You know… like when you’re right on schedule and you could hold it in for longer if you wanted to.

Yellow means you need to be proactive about knowing where all the appropriate pooping places are ahead of time to avoid any discomfort.

Brown might as well be defcon 4. This is serious. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

I would rate the latter part of today as Yellow. At one point it reached DEFCON 4 but only for a minute. It was one of those times where everything is going just fine and then…!
This happened when I was just a few hundred feet from the peak of Bluff Mountain with the Ottie Cline Powell monument. Maybe it was my diet or how I had strapped my hip belt so high and tight that it squeezed my gut. I don’t know. It will be recorded as some sort of externality on a obscure chart regarding my poop history. All I know was that I randomly had a ghost fart. I did not feel it coming and it abruptly blew out my butt. But this was more than a ghost fart… it stopped me right in my tracks. It felt like I sharted from out of nowhere. Which I assume is how all sharts come about. You typically don’t see it coming. For some strange reason that had me thinking about mountain goats that very second. Do you know those pictures? Where mountain goats are just casually chilling about on the side of a cliff like it’s nothing? Well I was in the middle of a very steep part of the trail. I recognized that if I were to simply drop a deuce right there, my poop would literally ROLL down the mountain. I pondered about the journeys of mountain goat poop for a brief second because it may not be as simple as passing through a long line of intestines than simply plopping to the floor.

While I contemplated the physics of mountain goat poop, I casually took off my pack and buckled it to a tree so it wouldn’t fall down the mountain, like poop. I checked my briefs and was pleased to see I had not indeed shat my pants. It was contained…which made me furthermore thankful to having some flesh on my booty. The ordeal was not over yet though. I hovered my butt over to the side of the trail where the long grass grew so I wouldn’t drop one right on the trail. There really was no suitable area where I could pull over if you know what I mean. This was a really steep mountain! Leave no trace ethics would have to be broken for just this instance. I kind of hoped someone would have come upon me at this moment because let’s face it, it would have been funny. Unfortunately Mocha Pot was at least 20 minutes ahead of me and the next closest were miles behind me. I yelled out loud, “SUCK ON THIS TICKS!” as I opened the bomb doors for the off chance that someone was within ear shot. I laughed to myself while stooped over the side of the trail with my pants down. Then I laughed harder when it turned out to be just a big fat fart. Quite the false alarm which resulted in dropping the color alert system to manageable Yellow.

Unfortunately, because I have basically become hiker trash, I have no other interesting news that tops fart stories. I did do some night hiking later on. It wasn’t as fun as I expected, again. Some animal nearly scared the crap out of me (har har), I got attacked by more mosquitoes, my headlamp started to run low on batteries but I was too lazy to stop and put in fresh ones, my feet really started hurting, I couldn’t find the campsite I was shooting for so I had to keep on walking…I let myself get really dehydrated and going to sleep really sweaty is not fun… and blah blah blah. I saw a few fireflies so it all balances out.
I forgot about this Haiku I wrote way back in North Carolina when I watched a hiker nearly poop his pants. I call it The Turtle,
Creeping turtle head
Clenching butt cheeks moving fast
Waddle run hurry

Life’s a trip; pack light.


Read more from his online journal and follow his future ventures here.

2 thoughts on “A Day in the Life: Backcountry Poop

  1. Hey Craig, enjoying the journal entries and I can’t wait till billy’s old enough to understand what you’re doing. Very cool
    Take care and be safe


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