Oops! I ______ My Pants: Our Funniest Bathroom Mishaps, Part 1
Desperate for privacy, a passing PCT thru-hiker on Mt. Whitney had gone off trail to use his Wag Bag, tucking himself away on a small flat spot in between two of the spires next to the summit plateau. In a rush to deploy the bag and remove layers, his camera had slipped out of its pocket and dropped 70 ft. down the incredibly steep east face of the mountain. Miraculously, it landed in sight. After taking care of business and pondering a route, he grabbed some passersby to watch in case he fell and proceeded to free solo the distance and retrieve 800 miles worth of photos that he had declared “utterly invaluable.” He made it back just up just fine. We got the story second-hand from a witness who swore she saw the climb with her own eyes. By the time we hit the summit, other groups we spoke with had already heard the tale. Word travels quickly on the highest peak in the lower 48.
As any thru hiker will tell you, the Continental Divide Trail is unlike the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail in more ways than you can imagine. One thing that you wouldn’t really even think about until you experience it for yourself, or even realize that it puts hiker in a pretty awkward situation, is the walk into and out of a town...
In usually isn’t too bad. Your diet has been fairly normal, your body is used to it and you know that there’s a toilet in sight. There’s hope to hold it.
Out of town is bad…really really bad. A lot of towns on the CDT have a 10 plus mile road walk before you really get back into the wilderness. That’s three hours of hiking for your average hiker. Three hours for your stomach to have digested the three pots of coffee you just drank while you were doing laundry, the four pizza’s you just ate at the all you can eat Pizza Hut buffet, the two beers you just drank (because you need the calories of course) and the pint of Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream just to wash it all down.
Now you’re standing in the middle of a road, in the middle of a flat wide open section of desert, with no plant life taller than your knee and houses in the hills 200 yards away that have a perfect view of you no matter where you go. What to do...
Unfortunately this has happened to me more than once.
Thankfully, the first time was pretty uneventful. I waited until there was a large drainage ditch next to the road and it crossed under another road so it went even deeper and I could squat down out of site. All the while I could see cars passing and I imagine if they looked they could have seen the top of my head. That was a busy road but I finished my business as quick as possible.
You think I’d have learned my lesson the first time, but that’s not the case. Coffee is too irresistible while I’m on a long trail.
Circumstances were a little different the second time. The road was flat and the desert wide open. I had nowhere to go, but I really had to go. It was starting to get urgent. There was no drainage ditch this time either, but thankfully this road had fewer cars so I was less likely to be spotted by someone driving by. That took care of one of my concerns.
The main concern was the house on the hill about 300 yards away that was all windows and had a perfectly clear view of my extremely pale rear end as I got ready to do my business. Also have I mentioned that I’d just trespassed and climbed a barbed wire fence onto private property to get far enough away from the road so that it wouldn’t be extremely obvious to any passing vehicle?
But wait! It gets better…
As nervous as I was about my surroundings I failed to notice the most important factor of all! I just decided to poop and squat right on top of a mound of red ants. The red ants certainly didn’t appreciate my contribution to their ant hill and they sure let me know it. Before I knew what was happening they were crawling all through my shorts and boxers which were down around my ankles and terrorizing my legs with bites. I got them before they got any higher and then did what any sensible person would do. I abandoned my shorts and boxers to flee the ant hill.
In case you’re not imagining this in your head let me go ahead and paint this picture for you: I am in the middle of the desert, half naked, jumping up and down swatting myself furiously to try and kill the ants that are on me, I’m still wearing my t-shirt and backpack and there’s a road about 50 yards one way and a house that’s mostly windows 300 yards in the other direction.
I’m not sure if I just got lucky and no one noticed me or maybe they did but were too busy laughing at my predicament to do anything about it but my story ended well. I finally managed to get most of the ants off me and make an attempt at reclaiming my boxers and shorts from the conquering red ants. After shaking them out and flipping them inside out to check them for more ants I was finally able to put them back on. I climbed back over the barbed wire fence and jogged to catch up with my friends. We took a turn off the road and into the woods in a mile or two and as far as I know no one saw that interesting predicament that I’d been in just 30 minutes earlier.
—Chris “Chance” DePolo