As GMC’s Field Supervisor, I take great pride in knowing we are constantly striving to efficiently and responsibly manage human waste in the backcountry through our world-class outhouses. This season, we had more than a few occasions to celebrate!
(See our blog post “A Privy is a Privy is a Privy, or Is It?” for help decoding any unfamiliar toilet terminology.)
At William B. Douglas Shelter, one of GMC’s Long Trail Patrol trail crews built a beautiful new ADA-compliant moldering privy to replace the old pit privy. Since Douglas is in the Lye Brook Wilderness Area, the crew could not use any power tools on site. They took the additional level of complication in stride, even going above and beyond to add a large window to the back wall to create a light-filled “treehouse” effect. If you haven’t seen the ribbon-cutting ceremony they filmed upon completion, you can check it out here:
The Field Assistants and I took a turn building a privy as well. In late October, once the Caretakers and LTP members had left for the year, five of us took on the challenge of building a new ADA-compliant moldering privy in just three days! We spent one day prefabricating the framing at the office and two days at Governor Clement for the main part of the build. You can see the results in a time-lapse video we made of the installation.
While construction projects are our bread and butter, this year’s Southern VT Caretakers proved they don’t need a banner project to take pride in their work and have some fun at the same time! They moved four pit privies this year. Moving a pit requires four people to hike to a site, dig a new four- to five-foot deep hole for the privy to sit on, pick the privy up, put it down on the new hole, and bury the old pit. The caretakers made light work of this heavy task by making goofy pictures and videos which kept the whole GMC staff laughing.
Last but not least, our summer Mt. Abraham Caretaker said his favorite day was when Sugarbush Resort volunteers helped him hike in equipment to add a “Beyond the Bin” drainage system to the Battell Shelter batch-bin composting privy. This upgrade will make the privy a much easier facility for the caretaker to maintain, as well as a more pleasant experience for hikers.
All of these projects help keep the Long Trail System facilities more sustainable, but they also help our field staff grow closer to each other and connect more deeply with their surroundings. We hope you enjoy the videos we made as much as we enjoyed the work we were doing! Stay tuned for 2020, when we plan to replace five privies throughout the Green Mountains… and to have fun doing so!