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"Rest" stops on the way


New Member
I hope this question isn't inappropriate, but something has been on my mind...

As one walks between refuges...where would one take a "bio-break"? In other words, should I pack some toilet paper? Or are there public restrooms in the restaurants in the villages along the way?

I hope curiosity doesn't kill the cat!
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Time of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:


Active Member
liliha said:
where would one take a "bio-break"?

One of the most disturbing sights along the more remote parts of the Camino was the plethora of "bio-break" sites - usually identified by a mound of toilet paper. Indeed, in some areas it was so prevalent as to be disgusting, especially in forest areas, or anywhere that offered a bit of concealment. At times it was akin to walking in a minefield.

I would hope that those who use TP while contributing to the earth's biomass at least try to dig a hole deep enough to cover their business. Of course, few peregrinos carry any sort of entrenching tool, so that may be a bit hard and time-consuming. And there are cases where sickness necessitates a bathroom break before a hole can be dug.

But most times, it is possible to dig a potty/poopy pit - for hygiene's sake, to preserve the view, and spare us the nasty smell, on the Way. Even when struck by a case of pilgrim trots during my ascent of the hill outside of Cizur Menor, I managed to dig a hole using a rock. So I'm sure a trekker with more continence control can do the same.

Maybe that's too much information, but if it prevents the construction of even one "Camino Snowman," than I'll live with the shame... :wink: :arrow:


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For more than 50 years I've hiked well worn trails over a thousand years old and recently "designed" nature paths...all have one thing in common...human and domesticated/wild animal feces. In the deserts in the Middle East you can find petrified camel dung and, in the waddies companion human waste. No longer do we use our hand, grass or leaves to clean up, but rather the accoutrement's of Vinotinto's Camino Snowmen. Sure in time the paper will bio-degrade, but tissue flowers do not smell as sweet.

Here are a few recommendations from Leave No Trace Camping:

Purists say that "pack it in, pack it out" applies to human wastes as well. But for obvious reasons, most leave-no-trace campers aren't quite so meticulous. Still, this doesn't mean you should relieve yourself wherever and however the spirit (or your bladder/bowel) moves you. Your wastes are not only distracting, but also a potential source of disease.

Urinate at least a few dozen feet from any trails, and well away from water sources used by wildlife or fellow campers. Try to avoid urinating directly on plants, and preferably do it in a spot where it will either quickly dry on the rocks, or be soaked into the soil. Guys: spread it around.

Feces should be buried, at least 200 feet (60 m) from water sources. Use a plastic trowel (weighs less than 3 oz.) , so you can dig a "cat hole" to bury it in, at least six inches (15 cm) deep and wide enough that you won't fill it up. Fill the hole back up and "disguise" it when you're done. Don't try to pretend you're sitting on a toilet; squat all the way down over the hole. This minimizes the need for wiping afterward, because it's how humans were designed/evolved to dump solid wastes. You may find that leaving your pants around both ankles puts them in harm's way; take care. Use (unscented) toilet paper, and either pack it out in seal able baggies or bury it along with the feces.

I didn't consider this, but in for a penny in for a pound:

Opinions vary on whether used tampons and sanitary pads can be buried (most say no), but non-biodegradable tampon applicators should definitely not be left in the wilderness. Women may choose to make use of reusable menstrual products: washable cloth pads will need to be cleaned with soap, but reusable menstrual cups made of rubber or silicon can be rinsed or wiped and cleaned more thoroughly periodically. Blood from the cups should be disposed of in much the same way as feces.

The doctor is Not in!

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Time of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Rather than offer any further graphic advice on this subject, I would like to suggest an excellent book by an American conservationist called: How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art by Kathleen Meyer

There is an introduction where she tells us why she chose the word SHIT as opposed to crap, poop, doo-doo, No.2 etc. The opening sentence is about an English plumber named Tomas Crapper who invented the modern toilet cistern in the 1800's.

Our once-pristine wildlands are threatened by ever increasing problems of pollution. Since its first publication in 1989, How to Shit in the Woods has been adopted by outdoor enthusiasts everywhere as part of the solution. In this updated edition, outdoorswoman Kathleen Meyer reviews the newly available portable potties, with special attention to individual trekkers in an all-new chapter, "Plight of the Solo Poop Packer." Other topics include: the growing array of travelers' field water-disinfecting systems, Giardia contamination and the now infamous critter Cryptosporidium, crotch-accessible clothing for women, and a fresh batch of "worst experience" stories, all peppered with irreverent musings. For the purist, there are more wise t.p.-less techniques from the Old World. Written with an effervescent sense of humor, this is a book for anyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.

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