Friday, July 24, 2009

Wag Bags

Somehow, I don't imagine that the landscape of the Torngat Mountains National Park in northern Labrador is dotted with outhouses. One is left to one's own devices. While I'm game to try anything, I confess that I'm enamoured of outhouses. Several come to mind.

There's the outhouse on the northwest side of Mt. Katahdin at the David Pond campsite. Situated back from the shores of the pond on a rise in the Northwest Basin, from this wilderness seat one gazes across the water to the steep north wall of the basin. I can't recall if this outhouse has a door. If it does, it's a superfluous appendage, best left propped open to afford one an unobstructed view of the spectacular scenery.

Then there's the outhouse (again in Baxter State Park, this one at the Katahdin Stream campground) into the hole of which I dropped a perfectly good flashlight. Otherwise very comfortable, we were warned that black bears occasionally foraged in the belly of these outhouses and that it's best to scope out the area before taking a seat. Annoyed, I gazed into the pit, the dull yellowish glow of the flashlight still emanating from the muck and mire. I wondered how I might retrieve it. Nope, I said to myself, I don't think I'll go fishing for that one.

Ah, yes, and then there's the gerry built lobster trap rig that I set up one winter in the woods by Nat's cabin on Little Cranberry Island. We unbolted the seat from the cabin's toilet (no water in the winter) and propped it up in the hatch door of the old wooden lobster trap. Very comfortable, excepting the frigid temperatures.

Lacking outhouses in Labrador, I've been told that we will be using wag bags. Say what? I'm of the old school of camping: either you used an outhouse or you took a dump in the woods and did your best to bury your leavings. So here's some information about wag bags, the high-tech way to dispose of poop:

For anyone who enjoys spending weekends in the great outdoors, taking along a WAG bag® or two is an excellent idea. More properly known as a waste alleviation and gelling bag, the purpose of the device is to provide a sanitary way to dispose of human waste when there is not a running toilet available. Here is some information about how the WAG bag® works, and how the bags can be used in a number of travel and outdoor settings.

The WAG bag® functions with a double bag system. All the components of the WAG bag® are constructed of high quality puncture resistant materials. The outer bag has a secure zip top that creates an airtight seal when in the closed position. The inner WAG bag® contains a gelling powder that is usually referred to as Pooh Powder. This powder immediately begins to gel the waste while neutralizing the odor. The components of Pooh Powder are not toxic and are highly biodegradable. One of the advantages of using a WAG bag® containing this powder is that the decay process is accelerated, with both the bag and the waste being completely decayed in a matter of months. Perfectly hygienic, the neither the powder or the WAG bag® contains any type of perfumes, so persons with allergies can use the bags with confidence

So, how does one use these waste alleviation and gelling bags with Pooh Powder? One squats over the bag. (I can hear the chorus of protestations from my women readers about ALWAYS having to squat in the woods...) I've never been particularly proficient at squatting. There's some consolation in knowing that I've been strengthening my quads at the gym. Maybe that will help. Anyway, one imagines that no matter where one squats in the Torngat Mountains National Park, there will be a good view.

There will be no posts on Distant Temple Bell for the next week or so. I'm looking forward to posting journal entries with my own photographs when I return. Maybe there will be some nice wag-bag shots...


Sukie Curtis said...

I'll pass on the wag bag shots (unless you mean the view seen while using the wag bag), but I AM looking forward to photos on your return. As well as looking forward to your return, of course!

Bonnie said...

Reading about you being a polar bear's prey was very sobering, as was the ending. Reading it, I shared your feeling of unease about the whole situation. I am quite moved by this story.