Ahh yes. The trail muffin. A term inspired by the "meadow muffin" and my 2017 submission to the wide-ranging climbing vernacular. A prerequisite for climbing outdoors is to take responsibility for yourself as well as your impact upon others. If you have to go to the bathroom at a cliff, you must walk 200 feet away and bury your “business”. At Rumney you really cannot go off trail to do this because the crags are so interconnected. It is wise to come to the cliff well-prepared for those emergency situations when you cannot get back to the parking lot bathrooms. Wag Bags are a key piece of climbing equipment that rarely gets discussed but should with “regularity”. They allow you to do your business in a bag equipped with wipes and a small wad of toilet paper that you can seal up and then toss away at the end of your day. That being said a trowel can be used to help dig a cat hole if you can locate a spot 200 feet away. Climbing is an active sport that can create anxiety and exhilaration, and so having to “go” is normal. What is not normal is just leaving a trail muffin there at the cliff for all to see. Relieving yourself underneath a route, “going” a few yards off trail, using leaves, a few rocks and twigs to cover your mess, are all inadequate approaches.
Ill-gotten poop treats for Fido corresponds to a maddening experience for dog owners. Like it or not, dogs are allowed on national forest land if they are in their owner’s control, listen to instruction and are not the type that are inclined to bite. Perhaps you did not know that most dogs love to eat human waste? If you stop and think about the domestication of dogs, it actually all make sense. There is nothing worse than finally getting to the base of the crag and seeing your dog start to consume human excrement before you even set your pack down. It really just ruins the day. Not burying one’s human waste is unacceptable as it can contaminate an area and find its way into streams and rivers. You might be thinking just leave your dog at home. Alas, it all goes back to human error. If I am being a responsible dog owner, and I encounter human poop directly below a climbing route, the responsibility falls on . . . the community. Yes! Somehow we failed to get the proper messaging out on how to correctly take care of “business” in an outdoor situation. The Access Fund is a great place to learn about climbing etiquette in addition to other important climbing issues.
While we are on the subject of poo, it’s also important for men and women to carefully think about where they pee while at the crag. If you are a guy and you wiz in an area that rarely gets access to rain, well that is going to stink for the rest of us. If you are a woman and leave a wad of toilet paper thinking it will just biodegrade, well you are just wrong! It doesn’t go away very easily. It is easy to notice these issues because we all tend to pee behind the same convenient rock or tree. I bring a flat container of wet ones that easily fits in the brain of my pack. I pee, and then pack the used wet ones in a little bag that I then toss in the trash at the end of the day. It’s simple. Do not leave anything behind while climbing outdoors, including your human waste otherwise known as a trail muffin.