Eating & Pooping in the Grand Canyon

Eating & Pooping in the Grand Canyon

So, how do you, um, poop in the Grand Canyon? And how will you eat?

These, and slight variations, were the most asked questions when we were preparing for our private Grand Canyon white water rafting trip.

Our responses ranged from the ridiculous– A drone will fly into the canyon and airdrop food for us. To the serious– we poop in a can and carry it out of the canyon.

Logistically, eating and pooping are the two biggest concerns when you are in the wilderness for 23 days.

We chose to use Canyon REO to outfit our private {non-commercial} trip. This took a lot of stress off us in the planning process. Canyon REO provided all the major gear, the food {including packing it in such a way that it would keep for 23 days} and transportation of vehicles to/from the put-in and take-out.

This was absolutely the best choice for a group of newbies.

The Food

The meal planning process began a few months out from our launch date. I was assigned the duty of food manager— mostly because I seemed to be the most concerned about the food. Canyon REO provided us with a detailed list of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options. My job was to gather everyone’s food preferences and create a 23-day meal plan.

Canyon REO did all the shopping, preparation and packing of the food.

The food was packed as follows–

. 23 camp boxes. These were large ammo cans filled with all the non-perishable food for each camps’ dinner, breakfast and lunch.

. Four large camp coolers lined with blocks of ice. Each cooler contained 4-6 days of perishable food. We still had ice in camp cooler #1 when we reached the Pearce Ferry take-out on day 23.

. One large lunch cooler where we would transfer the next days lunch for easy access and so that we were only opening the camp coolers once each day.

. Two produce coolers containing fruits and vegetables that needed to stay cold.

. Two produce crates containing the hardy fruits and vegetables.

. Two egg crates. And yes, they were real eggs. I was pretty surprised by that.  Also, of the ~400 eggs and 100+ named rapids, only a few broke!

. Two bread boxes, one staples box {containing things like oil/flour/condiments/etc} and one spice box.

Produce (2)

In addition to the food itself we had a full kitchen set-up with a six-burner stove, the baster {for quickly heating water}, pots, pans, skillet, dutch ovens, dishes, utensils, cleaning pails, lanterns, two tables, tarps, fire pan, two wishy-washy stations, five propane tanks. There was also the water filtration system, 10 water jugs {20L each} and a whole stack of five gallon buckets for various things.

White water rafting with 18 ft oar boats has a ‘car camping’ feel to it. Those five rafts held so.much.stuff.

Gear Truck (3)

Gear Truck

Rigging the Boats 94)

Rigging the Boats

Let me just say– we ate like royalty in the Grand Canyon. Nick and I found ourselves constantly saying, “We’re eating better here than at home!”

With the exception of a few meals, we had leftovers every day. We ended the trip with fresh fruit, vegetables, a whole box of soup cans and an assortment of other food. We had so many leftovers we were throwing food away.

Breakfasts typically consisted of pancakes, eggs, bacon/sausages or english muffins/bagels. We also had breakfast pie {dessert from last night!} most mornings. Lunch typically consisted of sandwiches or salads, salty snacks and cookies. Dinners were pretty amazing. Every dinner consisted of a salad, main course {fish, meat, chicken, pasta, soup, pizza, burgers, burritos, fajitas, etc} and dessert.

Our first night in the canyon we had steak and grilled salmon for dinner. We had fresh milk for the first week, fresh dinner meat until Camp 14, and fresh lunch meat and eggs at our last camp.

I personally packed enough Clif Bars for two each day– just in case. I hardly touched them. Nick and I had a few for snacks, but between the two of us, I doubt we ate one full box over the course of the entire trip.

We had enough food that we were able to share some produce with another group on the river who accidentally left all their greens in the car on rig day.

Grand Canyon National Park follows the leave no trace policy. That means everything that goes into the canyon must come out– bodily waste included.

Enter the Groover.

The Groover (5)

The groover set-up at Sheer Wall camp.

People were equally intrigued and grossed out by the pooping situation when it came up in conversation.

The Groover is a large ammo can with an attachable toilet seat. Each Groover was meant to be used for 5.5 days and we had 6 Groovers. This was predicted to be enough space for 10 people for 23 days. The Groover is meant for pooping only. Adding pee to the Groover causes two problems 1) it will smell and 2) there is not enough room in the ammo can for 10 people to pee and poop for 5.5 days straight.

Groover Sign (6)

A lovely reminder from one of the groover captains.

Peeing is done in the pee bucket {which is set up next to the Groover} or directly into the river.

Side note — if you’ve never tried to pee and poop separately, it is extremely hard!

You might be wondering if pooping in a can was awkward.

Honestly, no.

We had two people assigned to Groover duty. The first thing they did when we arrived at camp was find the most beautiful and private location to set up the Groover. They did an awesome job. With the exception of the second to last camp where we were very limited on space, the Groover was very secluded.

Some of my favorite moments of the trip was when I would be up in the middle of the night using the Groover. Our camp fire would be out and I’d turn my headlamp off so there was zero light pollution. I’ve never seen a more big, bright, beautiful night sky.

When we arrived at the Pearce Ferry take-out there were flush-able toilets. I was surprised that our Groover was cleaner than the toilets at Pearce!

By the end of the trip I managed pee off the boat {sort of} into the river a few times! Not in a very skilled manner, however– I can still hear Nick yelling at me “You’re peeing on my bag!” Luckily it was a water proof bag that could be dunked into the river 😉 To borrow a phrase from one of the girls on the trip– “There’s those who’ve peed on themselves, and those who pretend they’ve never peed on themselves.” It happens.

“So, how do you, um, poop in the #GrandCanyon? #whitewater #adventure” {Click to Tweet}

Your turn! Have you ever been in the wilderness for an extended period of time? How did you handle the eating and pooping situation?

♥amanda maureen

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