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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

BEAR NECESSITIES, Pt. 2: NATURE CALLS

American Standard Trail, located near Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, is one of the most famous mountain biking trails in Pennsylvania.  Mountain bikers from all over the world make the pilgrimage to ride this rocky, twisty, 18+ mile single track just to see (and more than likely take a selfie with) the American Standard urinal that somehow managed to find it's way eight miles deep into forests of eastern Pennsylvania!

American Standard Trail.  Dave R, Glenn M, Mike N, Mark L, Bill G, & Kevin H -- 2008

Needless to say...it's not everyday that  you find a "bathroom" in the middle of the woods...and it's the reason why I've come to appreciate trailheads that have public facilities.  Spending as much time as I do in the woods, I fully understand that the restrooms in state forests, state parks, & county parks can be sketchy at best.  My first memory of experiencing a DCNR (that's Pennsylvania Department of  Conservation & Natural Resources) bathroom was as a small child growing up in Bedford, Pennyslvania.  In the summertime my mom and dad would take my brother and I to Shawnee State Park.  We would spend long, hot days there swimming in the lake and playing in the sand.  At a very young age, I learned quickly, if at all possible, to avoid the cinder block bathroom up on the hill which emanated a smell that seemed unnatural.

That old cinder block bathroom at Shawnee Lake is on the left.  This pic was taken in 1973.  My mom (pregnant with me) is on the left.  I assume the little girl in the middle is my cousin, Kristen.  My Aunt Deb is on the right.

More than 30 years later I would come across that smell again.  This time at Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  We joked (half seriously) that you could SEE the smell surrounding the green "bathroom" located adjacent to the remains of the old iron furnace.  Whether the green hue was real or imagined...there was no denying that smell was real.  Adding to the charm, we entered the facility armed with our own paper, a flashlight, and a can of hornet spray to fend off dive bombing bees and wasps as we completed our business.  That structure is no longer there...replaced by a modern facility...which is much cleaner but somehow lacks the same character as it's predecessor.  

The facilities (old and new) at Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

Just down the road from Pine Grove Furnace State Park, located in the heart of Michaux State Forest, you will find the Big Flat parking lot.  The facilities there leave a little to be desired.  I have no idea why they even bother to label them male & female.  Does it really matter? -- August 12, 2016

Up until two years ago there were no public facilities at Swatara State Park.  To hit the trails, Tim and I would usually just park along side the highway and hope that nature didn't come calling.  Now, at the TROUT RUN TRAILHEAD, you will find a new restroom.  I have two comments...1. Thank you, DCNR.  2. The baby changing station is darn close to the hole. -- March 5, 2016

The facilities at the York County Parks range from this super huge restroom at Rocky Ridge to this outhouse tucked away underneath a wooden shelter at the Lakes.

Nothing but an old school outhouse at Mark's cabin near State College, PA.  It also came equipped with a ladle shower! -- August 2007

Wherever we go I just expect the worst...and frankly, I'm not sure if anything could ever be worse than that old green building at Pine Grove Furnace.  Ranging from old to new, filthy to "it's not so bad", cramped to "Hey! I can move around in here"...we've experienced it all.  Yes, every once in a while we find ourselves at a trailhead without a bathroom.  In that case, the old male saying "The world is our urinal" holds true.  And remember....if nature calls and more than a urinal is needed...the second tree to the left and out of sight usually works out just fine.*


Just be discrete...like a bear in the woods.

Life is a journey...not a destination.


David A. Raymond -- November 30, 2016
*In all seriousness...if you need to do your business in the woods be sure LEAVE NO TRACE and follow the guidelines set up by the Center For Outdoor Ethics on how to properly dispose of your...uh...poop.

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Suitable for some serious  GROUP THERAPY...you'll need to travel all the way to Jerome, Arizona to find this set of outdoor thrones -- January 21, 2014

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