Photo: Rowan Gillette-Fussell
OKAY, IF WE’RE GETTING TECHNICAL, yes, I did poop my pants in the woods all those years ago.
To be fair, pooping in the woods is harder than you’d think, and even harder if you’ve never done it before, which was the case for me. At least that’s what I tell myself. There’s no toilet seat to lean on, nothing to use as a guiding force, just you and your choice area in the woods. For me, it was Alaska.
I was 13 (I’m still not sure if that’s young enough to feel okay about it, or old enough to feel like writing this is the worst decision I’ve ever made), and my family and I were on a week-long deep sea kayaking trip somewhere outside of Valdez. For the first couple of days, it was rinse, wash, repeat. During the day we’d kayak next to uninhabited islands, through clusters of glaciers, and across open, expansive bodies of water. At night we’d set up camp, cook some food, swat at bloodthirsty mosquitoes, and tell stories around a fire. It was camping at its finest.
But that all changed on the third day. The day I pooped my pants in the woods. Now you may be wondering how I made it to day three with no prior incident. Well, that’s easy; I hadn’t pooped yet. You see, this was something I had thought about long before going on the trip. I had never pooped in the woods before, and quite honestly, I was terrified to do so. So I conjured up a plan: to hold it as long as possible.
I knew the plan wasn’t foolproof. It was about as well thought-out as a game of hop scotch with toddlers on ice. So it was no surprise when the moment came – it was inevitable, really – I was just hoping to put it off as long as possible.
The fateful day – day three – started out as any other: kayaking through beautiful, uninhabited wilderness. Which may be one of the better ways to start a day, unless you’re somebody that hasn’t pooped in three days. Then it’s torture. Subtle waves feel like something out of The Perfect Storm, and gorgeous landscapes begin to resemble that one kid from elementary who thought it’d be funny to kick down your extravagant, and architecturally brilliant block building.
By lunch it was apparent – I could hold it no more. We cruised to the shore of a remote island, and I jumped out of my kayak and darted into the woods. With it being my first time, I didn’t know much, but I knew picking your “spot” was important (for a number of reasons, among them being bears getting weird and jealous).
After a little searching, I found a spot I deemed fitting. It was perhaps the most beautiful bathroom I’ve ever seen. A hidden valley encompassed by distant mountaintops and green that went for days. If it were a decade later, I would have definitely put it on Instagram. But it wasn’t, and any tranquil thoughts I had were quickly taken away by the screaming pain in my stomach. It was time.
I’ll spare the details of what transpired next, but know things seemed to go reasonably well. And there was also a hawk circling above. I tidied up – pulled my pants up, dusted myself off, etc. Pretty standard.
Except it wasn’t.
I think I knew it then, but I didn’t want to believe it. Surely not, I thought. There’s no way. Not me. Not here. Not with that pretentious hawk circling above – he’ll tell everybody. But disbelief soon turned into reality, as I came to the realization that I had indeed pooped my pants.
The subsequent events are spotty at best. Between the shock and sheer embarrassment of it all – to this day I’m not sure anybody on that trip knew what happened that day in the woods – I think I’ve blocked it out of my memory. Or at least put it into a deep, dark corner until my unborn child goes on his/her first date. I do know, however, that the rest of the trip continued on and it was great. The colors of the gorgeous landscape a little brighter, the mosquitoes a little more tolerable, and the subtle waves of the Alaskan sea a little more pleasant. Once again, it was camping at its finest.
At the end of the trip, before leaving Alaskan soil, we stayed the night in a hotel. It was a good thing, too, because I got food poisoning from a Mexican restaurant and spent the night wrapped around the toilet for more than one reason. Alaska was sweet, though.
A couple of tips to ensure you don’t poop your pants in the woods.
1. Don’t skip leg day. It’s easy to do. You’re a bro, or lady bro, and you like to lift and start to see some gains in your chest, back, and arms. You want more. You buy protein and start crunching it at the gym multiple times a day – all upper body, of course. Soon, you’re yolked. From the waist up, at least. But that doesn’t matter because you’re a jean person anyway. But then you take a weekend camping trip with friends and find yourself in need of doing the deed. No big deal, you think. I’ll crush this, just like I crushed that superset of bench press yesterday. You find yourself a nice space next to a bush and take your stance. Uh oh. You begin to waver; your upper body heavy and your legs having not seen a single squat in seven months. It’s too late, though. Things are happening. You power through, like a real bro, but unfortunately your aim has been compromised and you end up like me at 13 in Alaska.
2. Focus on the task at hand, not the hawk circling above. That’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy yourself, you are pooping in the woods. But at least make sure your landing zone has been cleared.
This article was originally published at Medium, and is republished here with the author’s permission.