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How to Take a $H!T in the BWCAW

Thunder box in the BWCA

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is America’s most used wilderness area. Each year an estimated 250,000 visitors paddle its pristine lakes and over 1,200 miles of canoe routes and camp at one of over 2,000 designated campsites. This many people using the million acres puts a strain on the land. While in other wilderness areas if you need to take a crap you dig a hole and bury your poop (as outlined in the book How to Shit in the Woods), it isn’t like that in the BWCAW. In the BWCAW, you take your shit by sitting your arse down on a thunder box (latrine) and letting it rip.

Here are simple instructions for pooping in the B-DUB:

  1. Locate thunder box at campsite.
  2. Wipe the morning dew off the seat.
  3. Pull pants down.
  4. Sit on thunder box.
  5. Poop.
  6. Wipe arse.
  7. Stand up.
  8. Pull pants up.
  9. Clean hands.

That’s it. It’s basically just like crapping at home.

Here is the section of the U.S. Forest Service’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Trip Planning Guide that talks about the rules and regulations for waste.

rule for disposing waste in the BWCA

Note: Human waste is poop, also known as shit, crap, shite, BM, cow pies, defecation, discharge, dung, excrement, excretion, fecal matter, feces, feculence, deuce, manure, meadow muffin, night soil, number two or stool. It is to be deposited in the latrines, also known as a thunder box.

Why do I bring this up?

Because during my last trip to the BWCAW in multiple campsites someone had walked into the woods crapped behind a tree and left TP on the ground. WHEN THERE ARE THUNDER BOXES AT EVERY CAMPSITE. Someone even tried to dig a hole and crap in it a mere 20 feet away from the thunder box. Something dug up the hole and poop was all over the ground. Seriously, people. Are your butts too dainty to sit on a thunder box and poop? Is your poop too good to join the rest of the poop in the hole in the ground? It’s almost as if these shit-in-the-woods-in-the-BWCAW people don’t understand what a thunder box is. It’s a latrine in the woods that is designed to consolidate all the human waste so that the waste has little impact on the BWCAW. It isn’t like the mayor of BWCAW-border-city Ely stole the thunder box from the campsite that you were staying in. Sit on the thunder box and shit. It’s easy. It’s an amazingly first world problem when some tourist won’t sit on a thunder box and crap. I can just imagine them saying, “It’s so dirty. I can’t sit on that. Gross.” So, they go into the wood near the campsite and poop and leave their TP unburied for some kid to step in as he explores the woods near the campsite. The BWCAW sees too much pressure for the dainty to poop outside of the thunder box.


Shit in the box.

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