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The long and short of peeing in the woods

July 21, 2011


by Jen Rouse
The Short Years

I have always been quite happy to be a woman. Never in my life have I thought that my life would be better in any way if I had only been born a man.

But suddenly, for the first time in my life, I am finding myself a little bit jealous of the male anatomy.

Why? Well, our family has spent the last several weekends in the woods, camping and hiking and having a blast. It’s been great, up until the moment when one of the girls looks at me and announces, “I have to go potty.” When you’re 50 miles from nearest toilet, this simple statement suddenly takes on a whole new level of complication.

One of our recent hiking destinations: Gordon Lakes in the Willamette National Forest. Yes, it’s gorgeous, but do you see any bathrooms nearby? (Photo taken by Lucy)

Let me walk you through the steps of outdoor peeing for the two genders, just in case you haven’t had the pleasure yourself.


Step One: Find a tree, any tree.

Step Two: Unzip.

Step Three: Pee.

Step Four: Re-zip (step four optional).


Step One: Walk through the forest until you find an extremely large bush, fallen log, or tree.

Step Two: Ponder whether or not said bush or tree is really large/leafy/secluded enough to ensure complete privacy from other hikers who may happen to pass by.

Step Three: Conclude that it is not, and wander farther away from the trail. Repeat Steps 1-3 as needed.

Step Four: Unzip and push your pants and undies way down around your ankles, completely exposing your naked bottom.

Step Five: Maneuver yourself into an awkward squatting/crouching/reclining position, making sure that you are leaned waaaay back so that in no case are your feet ever actually positioned directly below yourself. (Failure to comply with the completely awkward and uncomfortable position described in Step Five means that pee will simply flow straight down and soak the pants and undies around your ankles.)

Step Six: Pee as fast as you can, hoping all the while that no one will come along and get an eyeful of your naked rear, and that you have positioned yourself appropriately and you’re not going to pee on your pants, and that no pee splashes up onto you as you’re going.

Step Seven: Pull your clothes up, try not to step in the puddle you’ve made, and wonder whether you can find your way back to the trail.

Peeing in the woods is an awkward manuever for any woman, one that I don’t really love doing myself. Taking my daughters to pee in the woods is even worse. You have to do all the above steps, except that you have to coax an reluctant apprentice through all of them and literally hold her hand as she does it. After years of training on *only peeing in the toilet* we’re suddenly reversing courses. It weirds them out. As one daughter said to me as I helped her go behind a bush, “I just don’t feel very comfortable with this. ”

In the past three weeks, while attempting to help my daughters pee in the woods,  I have been peed upon, I’ve had girls say they need to go and then get stage fright and refuse when faced with the prospect of actually peeing behind a tree, and I’ve had the whole process simply take too long for a small bladder to handle and had to carry backpack full of stinky, wet clothes around with me the rest of the day.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t love getting outdoors with my children. Or that I wish I had boys. But I am wishing that there were an easier way. Women of the world, help me out here. How do you handle taking your daughters potty in the woods?

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Discuss this article

happy camper July 21, 2011

They do sell portable and disposable pee bags specially designed for lady campers. It helps with a few steps you mentioned.

noname July 21, 2011

You really feel you have to venture way out to get privacy and the rigth spot. If you are traveling with others it makes it more stressful. A whole lot more stressful than it should be. This is a downer because we go camping to get out into nature and feel at peace with the lovely surroundings and then you find yourself wrestling with “if you should go”, “when you should go”, “where you should go” and “how should you go”. Takes the fun out of it.

naomi July 21, 2011

it reminds me of camping with our neighbors growing up. Her mom would always say, “It’s just no fair that they are Pointers and we are Setters.”

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