Sanitation

Plastic bags can be indispensable. Mountaineers use them to package food, as emergency mini-tents, and sometimes to keep the water away from their feet. Keep a heavy-duty plastic bag on hand to carry the garbage. The old rule about food containers is that if you can carry it into the wilderness full, you can carry it out empty. Mountaineers clean up every bit of their garbage (yes, even aluminum-foil flecks from a campfire) and often pack out anything they find in camp or on the trail, no matter who left it. Never bury garbage or dump it in latrines. The golden rule of camping: Leave the campsite cleaner than you found it.

Heavily used campsites usually have a pit toilet, set away from any source of water. Otherwise, go at least 200 feet from any open water (allowing for maximum level around lakes), dig a hole 8 to 10 inches in diameter and no deeper than 8 inches. Fill it after use with loose soil and tamp the sod back in place. Pack out used non-biodegradable items of personal hygiene, such as sanitary napkins, in airtight containers. In snow, find an unobtrusive toilet area, such as a clump of trees well away from camp, and wherever possible burn the used toilet paper. Pick up any trash before it gets covered with new-fallen snow, where it will lie hidden until the spring thaw.

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