Chattajack Potty Talk: What to do About the Loo

Editor’s Note: This is part of a Distressed Mullet series on on Chattajack Prep. Additional columns will focus on landmarks and navigation on the river and how to prevent a Chattattack freak out prior to the October 22 start of “the Inland Molokai to Oahu”… Today’s installment comes from Chattajack veteran and ‘Nooga paddler Dottie Hodges.

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WARNING. This read is not for the faint of heart.

Or the squeamish. Or the shy. Let’s talk bodily functions! That’s right.  Poop.  Pee.  Other.  YAY!

So there are a few yarns about this, and the entire thing for Chattajack first timers of all paces seems to be shrouded in myth and mystery and quite frankly – sheer horror.  Surely, you think, what you’ve heard can’t be true.  Surely, there are restrooms at key mile markers; at least sketchy porta-johns or similar.  Surely, it’s not as barbaric as they say.  Surely, it can’t be that you might in fact be having a conversation with someone WHILE THEY ARE PEEING and you never even knew it was going down.  It can’t be like that.

O, but it is. 

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Here’s the thing. 

Embrace the pee, first and foremost. 

If you finish CJ and haven’t peed on the course at some point probably more than once, it’s likely that you didn’t optimize your hydration. 

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The two schools of thought of “going on the go” are so dissimilar – yet based upon a simple truth.  The podium set will say, every second (or less) counts.  It’s true – just look at past finish times.  For us Back Of the Pack’ers, it’s a different take.  Get the 32 miles over with as soon as possible to end the suffering. 

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In either case, a five minute pee stop can cost you.  Five minutes can pass in the blink of an eye – going close to shore, slowing down, detangling from leashes, waddling along the bank, going, reboarding, pulling out, getting back on course.  Trust me on this.

But how?

I can’t even – I mean, HOW?  It’s easy, really.  If you are of the male persuasion, you have a wee advantage here in that your clothing gets to stay dry if you have some skillz.  Adjust waistband, aim high, bingo.  For us girls, our lack of – ahem – pre-installed equipment actually becomes an advantage.  I don’t have to fool with a waistband.  I don’t have to miss a paddle stroke.  Relax, and go.  A few paddle splashes upward as you bend down is a good enough flush.  Or there’s always the “celebratory swim” at the finish line.

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But how?  I still can’t even.  OK get this.  YOU CAN TRAIN FOR THIS.  O yes you can.  Next time you take a shower, envision paddling along.  And just go whilst standing.  See, look.  It’s the easiest component of CJ you will train for.  And P.S. – try it on one of your taper paddles.

And by the way – should you find yourself in a draft train, the preferred pee position is the back of the train.  Because a) polite and b) you are less likely to cause a wreck when you flush than say, whilst leading said train. 

Not on a SUP?

Here’s where it gets a little tricky.  On the sup, you can sluice the golden shower away.  In an outrigger, surf ski or other craft with a cockpit, you could risk soaking in it. You have the following options: stop, and risk the aforementioned trials and tribulations of getting out, taking care of biz, getting back in and getting back underway. In an outrigger or surfski you risk huli or capsize if you try to dangle. The gunnels of the OC are usually very narrow and sharp, so hanging one leg off might require the installation of a pool noodle cushion to protect sensitive areas.  All of this requires a stoppage of some sort.  Gravity prevents the use of a make shift funnel plus tubing “drain”.  You could wear Depends, which would be interesting to self-rescue in should you huli.

In craft with self-bailing scuppers, it might be best to just go, and splash to “flush” then sprint to move the water out of the cockpit.

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OK so poop though…uh.  Well.  Yeah. Sometimes you can close the window, sometimes the window flies open whether you want it to or not.  Again, several schools of thought.  Any endurance athlete will tell you that practicing dropping the kids off at the pool before training paddles and on race morning is key.  Unless you are some sort of robot, you might be nervous on the morning of October 22 which works in your favor.  Get in the port-a-johns early; and whether port-a-john at race start, or a secluded bush at any point during the day, be sure to pack a tiny Ziploc of toilet paper.  Or if you go riverside, you can just splash.  It’s like a bidet, except well.  More primal. 

Other? 

What do you mean – what else could there possibly be?  Well sorry guys, but plug your ears.  If you are a girl, and you’ve played the calendar roulette and lost, you’ll have to plan ahead in one of two ways.  1.  Decide not to care.  Wear black.  Flush often.  2.  Take care of business with two ziplocs. One for supplies, one to pack out used supplies.  The fishes thank you. 

So that’s it.  Simple, really.  And perhaps your worst fears confirmed.  Go with the flow, my friends.  And choose your wardrobe wisely.

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Read In the Pack for Chattajack for ideas on hydration, nutrition and gear

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