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#30907 - 04/12/13 10:08 AM Re: Grow Up or Go Home [Re: JAGCHiker]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: JAGCHiker
One on one education in varying methods hopefully will 'eat the elephant'-one bite at a time. But its worth it; because the alternative of letting their ignorant and bad behavior damage the outdoors- to me is unacceptable.....


But wait! There's more. For whatever it's worth, that's the endless struggle. I well remember the decades-long efforts to educate baby boomers, who started hiking in the late 60s and early 70s. It was a dual problem. Then, there was not even the "leave no trace/minimum impact" philosophy as an ideal to point to. For instance, it was only just being recognized as a problem to not bury your garbage and everyone carried a hatchet to hack away at wood. The Sierra Club was still running trips into the 60s with week long camps of 50 even 100 people; being resupplied by mule strings of 30 animals; sending out sawyers each day to cut wood to feed the non-stop campfires.

Which is all to say that, yes, there's a new generation of semi-clueless coming along. For my part, I'm happy they're out hiking than staying home watching video games. I'm also reasonably confident that with a combination of cheerful pep talks and the occasional citation, like previous generations, they'll come to understand why it's important to take care of the place.
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#30911 - 04/12/13 05:42 PM Re: Grow Up or Go Home [Re: George]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: George
An excellent and well written report. Many thanks for the link. It's a variation -- and apparently a successful one -- of the toilets that were on the Whitney trail (evaporative)but which failed. It would be interesting to compare the designs and why the previous ones failed. Did the Whitney sites just not get enough sun? Are there better sites?
g.

The old Whitney toilets used burlap sacks, which failed early on, and then were adapted to use baskets to dehydrate the solids. The Long's Peak toilets also use baskets but the entire system seems to be upgraded and better engineered. For example, the solar collectors used to heat the air that is blown across the baskets. Long's Peak also has an effective system to separate and evaporate the liquid waste. The devil is in the details. It requires custom engineering to overcome the various challenges that come up. The key parameter is sizing the system to match the realistic maintenance that can be performed. The Whitney system seemed to be undersized relative to the frequency of removing waste. I think they did only two helicopter runs per year if I recall, and they were storing waste in drums and having spills etc etc. I can see where the Rangers would hate it. One way to increase the capacity is to use a rotating basket that can hold more waste without building another seat. Adding a urinal can also improve performance by reducing the volume of liquid to separate out.

As for siting, the Trail Camp location seemed correct, but I'm not so sure about where they located the Outpost toilets. As for solar energy available, you can't do much better than southern California. The mountains shorten the length of exposure, but it's plenty if the collectors are sized right.

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#30912 - 04/12/13 05:46 PM Re: Grow Up or Go Home [Re: SierraNevada]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
I'm really sorry that you guys can't respect the idea of the original post, ("Grow Up or Go Home")which was regarding backcountry ethics, even after I requested politely that the discussion of a "proper" waste disposal system in the WZ be reserved for other threads.

Moderators, please delete the thread.

There are long, LONG other threads out there discussing this topic. I'd ask that you please resurrect those threads and continue your discussion.

Edit: This post has been split off from the Grow Up thread.
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#30914 - 04/12/13 07:01 PM Re: Grow Up or Go Home [Re: MooseTracks]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2213
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
This is a distinctively valuable thread, so let's not delete it. If 100% of the peeps in the Zone subscribed to the wilderness "Leave No Trace" ethic, then there would be no problem.

But they don't, so the only real answer to the problem is to collect some amount of money per peep which pays to remove waste from the mountain's watershed.

Which is legitimately the subject of a separate thread.

Fork* this thread!

* Send each line of discussion off separately.

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#30921 - 04/12/13 11:45 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: wagga]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: wagga
This is a distinctively valuable thread, so let's not delete it. If 100% of the peeps in the Zone subscribed to the wilderness "Leave No Trace" ethic, then there would be no problem.

But they don't, so the only real answer to the problem is to collect some amount of money per peep which pays to remove waste from the mountain's watershed.

Which is legitimately the subject of a separate thread. Fork* this thread!

* Send each line of discussion off separately.

Ok, thread "forked". This is posted in the Solar Toilets vs wag bags thread, where the discussion can continue.

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#30922 - 04/12/13 11:56 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: George]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Bee
Beesides, I want this query addressed:

Originally Posted By: Woodsy Guy
But beyond that -- and here dim memories of previous threads on this subject
begin to surface -- is why this subject gets so emotionally charged? There
seems to be some weird fastidiousness when crapping into a bag that I don't
really understand.

I think there are several issues going on that causes so much "participation".

1. Nowhere else are people required to pack up their poop, and carry it in a backpack. When backpacking, that pack carries food, shelter and bedding. Nobody wants excrement mixed with that, and the idea that it is included in the pack -- well, it is disgusting to even me.

Compare that to Colorado River raft trips. Even there, people's toilet waste is carried but can be physically separated, even on a separate raft, from their food.

2. As seen in last year's posts in this discussion, the toilets were removed from the Whitney area and the wag bag plan implemented without full consideration of the other options available. With the toilets in place, they might have been upgraded to an improved and viable system, but instead, they were literally burned down. Now, as George has written, "Getting anything built within a designated wilderness would be a huge struggle"

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#30923 - 04/13/13 07:25 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: SierraNevada]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 780
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Take a look at the current Mt. Whitney quotas and do a daily head-count:

Permits
•  Wilderness permits are required for all overnight trips in the John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia National Park, and for all day trips in the Mt. Whitney Zone.
•  May 1 through October 31, use is limited by daily entry quotas:
    -  Overnight hikers: 60/day
    -  Day hikers: 100/day
    -  Exit*: 25/day
•  Obtain permits at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center, located 1 mile south of Lone Pine, CA, at the junction of Highway 395 and State Route 136. During quota season, permits are available during business hours. Outside of quota season, permits may be self-issued after hours.
* Exit quota applies to visitors who end a trip on the Mt. Whitney Trail, but begin it elsewhere.

Got it? That's a 100 day hikers per day, plus 60 overnighters per day. That's a heck of a lot of shit over the course of a quota season.

Until the USFS can come up with a practical waste disposal system (toilets that work), I believe the daily quotas need to be dramatically reduced (perhaps 30 day hikers per day and 15 overnighters per day). That alone will reduce the amount of human organics left in the ground. The Whitney environment needs time to adjust to the constant human traffic and their residue.

I realize that many of you would scream and yell if the quotas were reduced, but have you any better suggestions?

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#30924 - 04/13/13 07:42 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: Steve C]
John Sims Offline


Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 524
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
Originally Posted By: Steve C

1. Nowhere else are people required to pack up their poop, and carry it in a backpack. When backpacking, that pack carries food, shelter and bedding. Nobody wants excrement mixed with that, and the idea that it is included in the pack -- well, it is disgusting to even me.


One small thing that might help would be to upgrade the quality of the wag bags. I find them thin, and know of several cases where they broke and spilled the contents inside the backpack.
The bags used at Shasta several years ago were at least double the thickness.
I personally carry a heavy duty zip lock to put the wag bag in.

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#30926 - 04/13/13 10:23 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: John Sims]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
I concur with the extra bag, John. Another trick I learned from the old Shasta kits - kitty litter. I bring a small amount of kitty litter as another line of defense between the bag layers.

Wag bags have their place in the toolset for backcountry human waste management. A good example of using both effectively is Mt Shasta. There's a really nice composting toilet at the Sierra Club hut (Horse Camp 8,000 ft) and then you are required to use a wag bag above that point (which is typically snow covered during the hiking season). Another toilet at Helen Lake 10,000ft would be difficult to maintain in the snow, but it's being done with mixed results on other mountains in the Northwest. The Shasta "hybrid" system gives people a choice of camping near a nice toilet or camping higher up in the snow and using a wag bag. It seems to be working pretty well overall. As with any system, it's not foolproof because there's a small percentage of fools anywhere you go.

In one of my letters to Inyo management, I suggested trying a similar approach as Shasta, with new toilets at Outpost Camp and wag bags required above. After a few years of positive experience (assuming the Rangers support the effort) the idea of toilets at Trail Camp could be reconsidered.

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#30928 - 04/13/13 05:58 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: Bob West]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Bob,

I don't like reducing the quota for one reason...the people in Lone Pine, who make a majority of their money between 4th of July and Labor Day weekends. Draconian cuts to the quotas would put a lot of these folk out of business.

I believe the best way of getting this thing fixed is with an environment fee, which will provide the seed money to get these things built and afterward maintained. The people who benefit from these toilets pay for them. Of course, if we started today it would take at least 10 years to get anything done.

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#30929 - 04/13/13 06:02 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: Steve C]
dbd Offline


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 200
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Steve C

...
1. Nowhere else are people required to pack up their poop, and carry it in a backpack. When backpacking, that pack carries food, shelter and bedding. Nobody wants excrement mixed with that, and the idea that it is included in the pack -- well, it is disgusting to even me.
...

It may be yucky but in times of reduced budgets and conservative wilderness designations, the world is starting to hold people responsible for their impacts on the places they love.

I think you know that your "Nowhere" statement is well into drama queen and far from reality. I don't see how that can contribute to any positive resolution, do you?

In your own backyard, Yosemite NP has required climbers to carry out for years. Do you think Halfdome is "Nowhere"? National parks that have been doing the same thing include:
Denali
Grand Canyon
Gunnison
Kenai Fjords
Mount Rainer
Rocky Mountain
Yosemite - big wall climbers
Zion - Zion Narrows, climbers

Organizations that are concerned about continuing access and maintaining environment quality for their members are supporting this. That includes the Access Fund and the American Alpine Club. International guiding organizations that recognize the need to protect the places they want to continue to visit such as Alpine Ascents International have supported this around the world. I suppose that this means that people who find environmental responsibility too personally challenging can hire help.

Dale B. Dalrymple

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#30930 - 04/13/13 08:26 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: dbd]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Dale, you crack me up comparing the Mt Whitney Main Trail to big wall climbing in Yosemite, glacier travel in Alaska, and river rafting the Grand Canyon. Most of the places you mention have nice toilet systems wherever there are large numbers of people hiking a particularly popular area like the Main Mt Whitney Trail. Your list of places where toilets are used include multiple locations in Yosemite High Sierra Camps and backcountry huts; Grand Canyon Angel Bright Trail and also Havasupai, Mt Rainier has solar or pit toilets at the remote campsites at various elevations in the snow (wag bags are used if necessary and are deposited in collection bins on the mountain - not packed out), Kanai Backcountry Lodge has toilets (award winning ecotourist destination, Gunnison Black Canyon campgrounds have toilets, backcountry in Zion NP there are pit toilets at Lava Point Primitive Campground. About the only place there aren't toilets is subzero Denali, but unfortunately biodegradable wag bags have not solved the problem. The majority of wag bags are thrown into a cravasse between Camp 14,200 and basecamp, 18 days worth per climber, 1,500 climbers per season. Here's a study explaining how wag bags are working out on Denali.

If you're interested in environmental protection, toilets provide the best environmental protection when there are large numbers of people involved and conditions permit. Rocky Mtn National Park is mentioned as an example of wag bags, but it's actually the perfect example of how toilets should be done on Mt. Whitney, as stated over and over again on this thread. If the RMNP engineers and rangers were in charge at Whitney, this is how it would be run. .

The American Alpine Club is quoted in support of wag bags, well they're quite supportive of backcountry toilets where they make sense, I've spoken to them about it personally. They are currently trying to raise $50,000 to install a backcountry toilet at Vantage Washington, so feel free to donate here if you're interested in helping them. They're at $42,000 and the other groups involved include the Washington Climbers Coalition and Frenchman Coulee Climbers Coalition.

Minor edits for grammar and links

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#30931 - 04/13/13 08:55 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: SierraNevada]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
As someone who came from the field of science, I really appreciate your steadfast pursuit of the facts -- just the facts -- SN. A lot of histrionics surface whenever this topic is discussed, however, you toe the scientific line and deal in documented evidence, only. I have to say, too, that this Denali study is verrry disturbing.
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#30932 - 04/13/13 09:30 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: Bee]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Thank you, Bee. That means a lot coming from a professional in the debate world.

Yeah, too bad about Denali. It illustrates how human nature changes at a glacier pace, but environmental destruction can happen overnight.

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#30933 - 04/14/13 07:35 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: wbtravis]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 780
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
As a local observer of the Owen's Valley economy, I can tell you that most of the tourist money spent in Lone Pine is coming from people travelling through Lone Pine on the way to other places - like Mammoth Mountain, LA, or Reno, but not from Whitney trail backpackers. A reduction in quotas might have a mild effect on local business, but not much.

As you can see from the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce website http://www.lonepinechamber.org/ there are a lot of other things to do in the area besides the Whitney hike.

But I like your idea of an environmental fee; perhaps added on to the current permit fee. How much, I wonder? It would have to cover the cost of installation and annual upkeep of the toilets.

How about limiting Whitney hiking permits to one per season per person? That might upset the Whitney addicts, but would give other hikers a chance in the lottery.

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#30934 - 04/14/13 09:34 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: SierraNevada]
saltydog Online


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1550
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
Thank you, Bee. That means a lot coming from a professional in the debate world.


I am sure anyone familiar with debate will recognize a false premise and a false dichotomy, which we seem to have here. How are wag bags and solar toilets mutually exclusive or in any way alternatives or opposites to each other? Unless you think you can make it to TC or OC from anywhere on the trail in time, placing solar toilets there will only be a very partial solution maybe not even for a majority of it.

Don't know about most people, but most of my time - and as it happens, elimination - in the back country is not spent where I sleep, and I have heard more stories about wag bags being discovered out along the trail than either at TC or OC.

Not a scientific survey of course, but we should not assume that even the best toilets would obviate the need for other measures.
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#30935 - 04/14/13 11:30 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: SierraNevada]
dbd Offline


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 200
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
Dale, you crack me up comparing the Mt Whitney Main Trail to big wall climbing in Yosemite ...

The fact is, I didn't compare the Mt Whitney Main Trail to anything. I compared the widespread current and past use of wag bags to a simple emotional lie ("Nowhere ...") that I was careful to exactly quote. The response that drew is a complete misrepresentation of my post. Thanks for responding with a demonstration of another component of the problems with the presentation of the solar toilet issue on this site.

I'm one of the people who would like to see solar toilets on the Mt Whitney Main trail. I just believe that (whether as emotional utterances or sustained methods) falsehoods and distortions are tactics that do more harm than good. They have no positive contribution along any path that can lead to establishing functional solar toilets on the Mt Whitney Trail. Where the goal is to entertain the faithful, falsehoods and distortions are standard modern media practice. Where the goal is to achieve operational change, there will be no progress until falsehoods and distortions are eliminated. I'm not arguing against solar toilets. I'm arguing against the roadblocks that people keep insisting on building in the way.

Why doesn't anyone want to discuss what actions we need take now to get from where we actually are to where we want to go? Not entertaining enough? Too difficult? I'm not saying that I have confidence we'll get solar toilets if we try, but I'm sure no one on this site is working in that direction whether they think they are trying (or say they are trying) or not. But people like to read the posts and some seem to think that is justification enough.

Dale B. Dalrymple

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#30936 - 04/14/13 02:44 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: saltydog]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Originally Posted By: saltydog

I am sure anyone familiar with debate will recognize a false premise and a false dichotomy, which we seem to have here.


Definitely, I am not acting as a moderator of this topic. I was reflecting on the fact that SN is very careful to back up any of his statements of fact....with facts -- so rare on message board chat. I believe that the title of the thread miscasts some of the participants in the "either/or" category, when in fact, some of them have suggested a toilet for the lower elevations and the continued use of WAG bags above a certain point.

Originally Posted By: dbd
Why doesn't anyone want to discuss what actions we need take now to get from where we actually are to where we want to go? Not entertaining enough? Too difficult? I'm not saying that I have confidence we'll get solar toilets if we try, but I'm sure no one on this site is working in that direction whether they think they are trying


It was my understanding that SierraNevada has put a lot of time and effort in this very task in question. I recall(correct me if I am wrong) that he has written numerous correspondences, rallied others to do so, disseminated written reports on the topic, etc.
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#30938 - 04/14/13 05:32 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: saltydog]
John Sims Offline


Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 524
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
Originally Posted By: saltydog

How are wag bags and solar toilets mutually exclusive or in any way alternatives or opposites to each other? Unless you think you can make it to TC or OC from anywhere on the trail in time, placing solar toilets there will only be a very partial solution maybe not even for a majority of it.

Not a scientific survey of course, but we should not assume that even the best toilets would obviate the need for other measures.

As Salty points out there is no guarantee that toilets will totally eliminate the need for wag bags, and since the toilets will not be built this year, why not consider ways to improve the current wag bag system.
1. Improve the quality of the wag bags. Include a separate bag for transporting the wag bag (attached to the backpack?).
2. Set up "pick up stations” every 1, 2, 3,... miles, where they could be dropped off. I'm confident that containers could be designed for easy sanitary use, as well as easy to transport down the trail every 1,2,3,...weeks as needed. Hauling a "hermetically sealed" drum would (I think?) be preferred to picking up wag bags by the rangers. Llamas could be used to haul these drums I guess?
These two steps would partially eliminate the issue Steve brings up about hauling shit in the same backpack that one's food, sleeping gear, etc... is carried in. Perhaps we would get a higher use of the wag bags (we really do not know how many do not bother with the wag bag, and simply shit in the woods, or behind a rock), and would certainly reduce the number of wag bags left along the trail side.
The cost of these "pick up stations” would certainly be less than the toilets, and "might” reduce the amount of excrement left in the wilderness. Certainly not the final solution, but perhaps a step in the right direction. Not sure if any data is collected about the amount of waste collected at the trail head, but if it is measured it would be possible to compare the amount of waste collected the old way, and the new way. The results would be interesteing.Doing nothing is shameful.
I have a feeling that this is not such a new/novel suggestion, but I offer it nonetheless.
Any other suggestions?

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#30940 - 04/14/13 09:55 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: John Sims]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Collection bins for used wag bags would be very similar to a toilet system, but without the privacy. This works well on on Rainier in conjunction with toilets. Note that the title of this thread is Solar Toilets vs CARRYING Wag Bags. People don't like being forced to carry their poop up and down the mountain. That's why many people choose to leave the bag of crap by the trail for everyone to stumble by. Many (but not all) pick it up on the way down. Collection bins would mostly solve that problem, but some will just go on the ground. Toilets generate the highest level of compliance and provide best environmental compliance, period. But there are people who feel strongly that everyone has to take full responsibility for their poop and the only way to do that is to carry it to the summit and back down to the trailhead. Sounds great, and lots of people do just that, but not everyone complies, hence the problem.

As stated throughout this thread, wag bags have their place in the toolset for backcountry human waste management. Even if the old toilets were replaced (Preferred Alternative 1 in the original Environmental Assessment) at Outpost Camp and Trail Camp, it would still be a good idea for people to use a wag bag on the upper mountain above Trail Camp or in between toilets if necessary. Use one if you wanted to camp away from the toilets. Same for camping on snow where you can't even dig down to the frozen ground. Wag bags have their place, but as predicted, they are not working well as a stand alone replacement for the backcountry toilets that were removed.

I'm due for another letter to Inyo management, and I'll again put forth the idea of a trial system at Outpost camp. But everyone should realize that this will only work if the people responsible for maintaining them are on board. Without Ranger buy-in, they will fail no matter how good of system is installed.

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