Blog, Outdoor Skills

How to Blast a Duke in the Desert

Just to be clear, blasting a duke means poop. Our command by the way for our Blue Healer, Caldonia. Seems to be a little more ingonito when in public. However, for Backpackers Poop is by any other name, pooping. And there are a few things to know when “Blasting a Duke” in the desert sand.

There isn’t much difference between how you should….”blast” when backpacking. The one note here is that your “left behinds” tend to stay a little longer in the desert. Meaning, it doesn’t decompose like out in the East.

As a matter of fact, Canyonlands National Park has banned “blasting a duke” in the backcountry. Why? Here’s a good article to read.

In a wet landscape where organic matter decays quickly, such as the forests of the Pacific Northwest, poop from a few thousand people deposited throughout the year might not be such a big deal. But in the desert, with very little rain and limited organic matter in the soil, those brown piles take a long time to decompose.

source: High Country News

There are few rules of thought here: One: Still dig a Cat Hole. However, your gonna need a shovel that can dig in hard surface. Not all is soft and sand in the desert. The other is pack it out in Zip Lock Bags. (make sure the zip is working) We like the TheTentLab Ultralight Backpacking Potty Trowel to get those hard ground rocks up. Sticks and other methods may not work in the desert.

For the most part Wag Bags or Human Waste Bags are still the way to go. Yes, it’s gross. However, you are doing a great service to Wildlife and OTHER HIKERS. Nothing is worse than setting up camp around a bunch of toilet paper. We use the The Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Toilet Kit

You will find that more National Parks out West require some sort of Human Waste bags. Human waste disposal bags or hard-sided poop containers are often required along river corridors also in the West. It’s most likley that the NPS will tell you to urinate in the River instead by the shore. The parts per billion doesn’t affect the river.

Knowing why poop bags are required in so many places in canyon country should make a person stand up and notice. Obviously, it’s becoming an issue. As more and more backpackers that hike in the desert areas increase, so will the amount of poop in the ground. Do the desert a favor and consider using human waste disposal bags even if they’re not required and “Blast a Duke” with confidence.

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In 2003 I completed a Thru-Hike on the Appalachian Trail. Since then I have over 12,000 miles underfoot and 20 years of backpacking, and camping experience. Certifications include WFA, WFR, LNT Trainer, and belong to AORE. Have been guiding backpacking trips for over 10 years. The outdoors has taught me one thing. Trusting the Trail! really does provide everything a person needs.

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