Nov. 29, 2022

Crappalachian Trail

Today, we’re going to be talking about something everybody does, but not everybody’s comfortable discussing. There’s no nice way to say this, other than to just get right to it. Today’s episode is about pooping along the Appalachian...


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Sources

Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Backcountry Sanitation Manual, Second Edition (2014). https://appalachiantrail.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/backcountry-sanitation-manual-2-0-august-2014.pdf

Argow, Keith, and Robert H. Ford. Backcountry Sanitation: A Survey of Current Regulations and Administrative Practices Affecting the Appalachian Trail. Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1978. 

Ellis, Michael D., and Chistopher A. Monz. “The consequences of backcountry surface disposal of human waste in an alpine, temperate forest and arid environment.” Journal of Environmental Management 92 (2011): 1334-1337. 

Meyers, Kathleen. How to Shit in the Woods: An environmentally sound approach to a lost art, Second Edition. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1994. 

“Plan for Appalachian Trail Lean-To.” February, 1939. Shenandoah National Park Resource Management Records, Park Central Files, Oversize Box 117, Folder 22.





Transcript


MILLS KELLY: Everyone who’s ever been hiking on the Appalachian Trail has probably experienced a pretty familiar scenario. Picture this:

[Nature sounds]

[Hiking sounds]

KELLY: You’re on the trail. You’ve been hiking for a while, and you’re enjoying your surroundings. Birds in the trees, a breeze blowing through the leaves. But then you feel it. The urge. 

KELLY: If you were at home, you’d probably head to the bathroom, close the door, and do what you need to do in comfort and privacy. But right now you’re out on the Appalachian Trail, far from the nearest bathroom. What’s a hiker to do? Is there a shelter nearby? Because if there is, there will almost certainly be a privy. But if the nearest shelter is miles away, that’s okay! The forest is filled with opportunities.

[Nature and hiking sounds end]

[Intro music]

KELLY: Welcome to The Green Tunnel, a podcast on the history of the Appalachian Trail. My name is Mills Kelly and I’m your host. Before we begin, a bit of a disclaimer for today’s episode. We’re going to be talking about something everybody does, but not everybody is comfortable discussing. There’s no nice way to say this, other than to just get right to it. Today’s episode is about pooping in the woods. And yes, even that has a history. 

KELLY: So, if you don’t want to learn all about the history of pooping along the Appalachian Trail, or if you’re someplace where other people can hear what’s coming out of your speakers and you don’t want them to, don’t feel obligated to stick around. We’ll understand. Just come back when no one else is listening with you. Oh, and we’re going to use some words that might not be appropriate for younger listeners.

KELLY: You’re going to be hearing a lot of voices in this episode. We interviewed many hikers out on the Appalachian Trail this summer, and they had a lot of good stories to share. We may not introduce every single person as they speak, but the show notes have a full list of everyone you’ll hear from.

[Music]  

KELLY: Now, let’s get to it.

KELLY:  It doesn’t matter if you’re a day hiker, a section hiker, or a thru-hiker–everyone’s gotta go eventually. We asked some of the hikers we met this summer what their preference 
was when it was that time of the day. Were they a privy person? Or a behind-the-tree person?  

JOE PERMIDOTTI:  Tree guy. I stay out of privies for the most part 

“DARWIN”: Privy. 

“SERENDIPITY”: I’m a both person.

KELLY: How did the Appalachian Trail get to such a crap crossroads?

[End intro music]

KELLY: Like so much of the history of the AT, this story begins with Benton MacKaye’s original vision for the trail. His 1921 proposal for a multi-state hiking trail included plans for a string of “shelter camps,” where hikers could rest and take refuge after a long day of hiking. In MacKaye’s eyes, the trail was meant to be a comfortable and fulfilling getaway for working class people; somewhere they could commune with nature and escape from city life for a few hours or a few days.

KELLY: Once the trail clubs that formed in the 1920s began building the trail, many of their leaders worried that they would build a really long trail and hardly anyone would use it. Those early leaders wanted their trail to be a fun place for groups of hikers to go for the day, for a night, or for a week or two. They saw the trail as a place for recreation, not so much as a place for testing one’s limits on a long distance hike. Recreational hikers would want shelters, picnic tables, and good water sources. And many of those recreational hikers probably weren’t going to want to do their business behind a tree –  at least not if they could avoid it.

KELLY: It was this concern that motivated early ATC Chairman Myron Avery and other leaders of the AT project to get to work establishing a chain of shelters along the trail. And alongside each shelter? A privy. The shelters, and especially the privies, were meant to do more than just offer conveniences for hikers. They were an essential component of the plan to draw more people onto the trail itself. Having a place to do your business in private just made hiking more accessible to the average person. 

KELLY: The AT wasn’t designed for rugged outdoorsmen and women. It was created for people who might not have ever been in the woods before. Offering a simple toilet in the wilderness just made the idea of spending the day in the mountains more palatable. It did in the 1930s and it does in the 2020s. Take it from 2022 thru-hiker Aaron “Toad” LaPrade:

TOAD:  I talked to friends about my experience and a lot of them say, “Oh, you know, I can never do that,” because, you know, losing the comforts of home and having like the privies, the shelters, a picnic table, those are all just some reminders, providing some convenience that takes you back home a little bit. 

KELLY: Now, when we use “rustic” to describe the privies built along the AT, we don’t use the term lightly. You may have heard us mention in our shelter episode in Season One that the ATC established a very standardized design for the shelters based on an Adirondack-style lean-to. The privies were meant to be just as standardized. Volunteer clubs building the trail and the shelters were given plans for a classic pit-style outhouse. But the clubs were also asked to choose a site for the privy, if possible, with good views. I mean, who doesn’t want a good view when they’re having a private moment in the woods? 

KELLY: The desire for giving hikers a nice view while doing what they need to do hasn’t gone away. The ATC’s 2014 Backcountry Sanitation Manual – the current guide to best privy practices – advises that shelters and privies should be located on “upper mountain slopes to provide scenic views, refuges near summits, or idyllic getaways near the shorelines of mountain ponds.” 

KELLY: Although comfort and convenience were a goal, these were not exactly the grandest of structures. Think old-school outhouse, as long-time Green Mountain Club member Dick Andrews explains:

DICK ANDREWS: The original was a pit privy, and that’s typically a shelter, a little small, like a slightly enlarged phone booth on top of a hole in the ground and that’s where the waste goes. 

KELLY: Three walls, a door, a slanted roof, and, of course, the throne itself. What more do you need? One of the original plans said that the privies, “should be at least 200 feet” from the shelter and located where the ground doesn’t slope down to a water source. But anyone who has hiked much on the AT knows that the 200-foot setback from the shelters was rarely followed. Those original privies were also supposed to be, “constructed of small logs” and the pit itself dug three feet deep. These days, three feet isn’t nearly deep enough given how many people hike on the Appalachian Trail every year. Five feet is more preferred.

[Shovel digging noises]

KELLY: Those early privies were, of course, classic pit latrines. For any of our listeners who have never had the incredible pleasure of using a pit latrine or pit privy, they’re basically exactly as advertised. A hole in the ground, with an outhouse sitting on top of it. The ATC’s plans stated that “the pit should never be located in wet ground or rock formation,” and that “if the soil is gravelly or sandy, the pit should be lined to prevent caving.” But outside of that, there’s really nothing special about digging a hole in the ground and putting a wooden box on top of it. Which is not to say that the privy builders never exercised their creativity. 

KELLY: Today, you’ll find a wide variety of structures on top of those holes. I’ve been to shelters with side-by-side two seaters, I guess so you can chat with a friend while doing what you need to do. I’ve used privies that were nothing more than a throne on top of a wooden box with no walls or ceiling. Some have those cute little crescent moons cut in the door. Some have saloon doors like you’d see in an old western. Really, the possibilities are endless. 

[Shovel noises stop]

KELLY: As…rudimentary as they seem, those pit privies worked. In the early decades of the trail, it was typical that a shelter might see only half a dozen hikers per week. With so few hikers, a pit privy had no problem decomposing the human waste and assimilating it back into the soil at an acceptable rate. But then, hiking on the Appalachian Trail became a thing. A big thing. Hundreds of hikers turned into thousands of hikers. Thousands of hikers turned into tens of thousands of hikers. And tens of thousands turned into hundreds of thousands. 

[Music] 

KELLY: We’ve talked about the hiking boom of the 1970s before, and we covered some of its negative side effects in our Leave Only Footprints and Give Me Shelter episodes from last season. Since the 1970s the number of hikers on the trail has increased so dramatically that it can seem pretty crowded out there on any given day. And where thousands and thousands of people hike, it only stands to reason that the quantity of poop left in the woods – whether in privies or behind trees – has gotten a little out of control. In some popular locations, the privies are taking in an average of fourteen gallons of human waste every week during prime hiking season. At that rate, well…you can find yourself in some deep shit pretty fast.

KELLY: With droves of hikers using sites up and down the AT, the pit privies were filling up much quicker than they were meant to. And becoming…less than enjoyable. Okay, they weren’t ever enjoyable, but you get the point. 

KELLY: Privies filled to the bottom of the seat weren’t the only fecal folly occurring on the trail. More hikers out in the woods also meant more cat holes.

KELLY: What’s a cat hole?

KELLY: Like a pit privy, it’s also a hole in the ground meant to keep your business contained. Though on a much smaller scale. If you want to follow best practices for digging and using a cat hole, you should be at least 200 feet away from any water source or campsites, and you should dig a hole six to eight inches deep. You do your thing into that hole and then fill it up with the dirt you removed. 

KELLY: When you get into the mountains, however, it’s not always so straightforward.

SERENDIPITY: Keep digging. What is it, six inches or something is supposed to be? It's hard. It's hard to do. Haha, yeah.

AL: I find it very difficult to ever find a spot where you can dig more than about two or three inches before you hit a mass of roots or rocks.

KELLY: Unfortunately, far too many hikers don’t follow best practices for cat holes. 

STRIDER:  At the first shelter I got to, there’s just a hillside covered in like toilet paper. And some people like pooped on the ground, just covered it with leaves, and someone stepped in it. Because it’s hard to dig a hole when everybody’s trying to dig a hole in the same area. 

AL: I was at Davenport Gap Shelter, last shelter north out of the Smoky Mountains, and there was basically a TP graveyard just past the shelter, you go up a small hill. And it was a wasteland of rocks holding down masses of rotting toilet paper. And I don't know why maybe someone did it, and then someone else tried to dig and they couldn't, and they thought it was acceptable because someone else did. And it went from there. But it was, it was really off-putting to see how few people had actually tried to make any effort to dispose of their waste properly. 

KELLY: I’ve seen these problems first hand. In 2019, I was at the Roan High Knob shelter and the thru hiker bubble had just passed through. Roan High Knob shelter is the highest shelter on the AT and happens to be in Tennessee – the one state on the trail where there are no privies at the shelters. The smell from what hikers in the bubble had left behind – most of it not even in cat holes and virtually none of it at least 200 feet away – was so overwhelming I had to leave. There was just no chance I could spend the night with that smell.

HAYLEY MADL: Hi, I'm Hayley Madl, and I produced today's shit show. 

MADL: If you’re enjoying today’s episode about all things poop, we’ve got something for you. We have a very special “Crappalachian Trail” sticker designed by friend of the show Sarah Jones Decker. 

MADL: To get one of these stickers, sign up for our newsletter by the end of 2022 and give us your mailing address. We’ll send you your very own Crappalachian Trail sticker. Just go to R2 Studios.org and sign up.

KELLY: Even when hikers do try to follow best practices, thin, rocky soil can make it really difficult to get down far enough. Not digging deep enough makes it difficult for the environment to effectively decompose and assimilate hiker waste. And animals find all that human poop all but irresistible. They dig it up, they spread it around, and the problems just multiply. 

[Music]

KELLY: And when there are plenty of privies, taking care of them can be a pain, especially in the summer when the quantity of waste grows and the heat makes the smell so, so much worse. Dick Andrews has been involved with many of his club’s maintenance activities:

ANDREWS:  I’ve been involved in a number of the privy relocation parties and that involves typically four people, because it takes four to lift one of those shelters and move it to a new place. In Vermont, there’s not a whole lot of soil, especially in the mountains. You start running out of places to dig holes. And even if you didn’t have that problem, it’s really not a very desirable method of waste management. 

KELLY: Privy maintenance is far from a simple job. John Hedrick is the Supervisor of Facilities for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. John is also proud to be the Chief Crapper of the PATC’s “Crapper Crew.” John and his Crapper team have acquired some gear to help the process along.

JOHN HEDRICK: We have a pumper, we call it the Big Gulp. It’s basically a small septic truck, it’s not a truck, it’s on a trailer, but it does exactly the same thing as when a commercial pumper comes out to your house and pumps out your septic. We can get into small places that a commercial pumper cannot go into … and we can drive it into a pit and pump it out. Then we go and dispose of the waste at one of the RV pumping stations or maybe within one of the state parks or something. The Big Gulp works and although it’s a little bit messy. When we use it, we have to go with special clothing and all of that type of stuff. 

KELLY: Even with tools like the Big Gulp, maintaining heavily used and sometimes remote pit privies can be a nightmare. Not all pit toilets can be cleaned out with a septic system, and some sites can only be reached by foot. When trail clubs are stretched thin and privies aren’t emptied or can’t be moved anymore, the sight and smell can effectively ruin a hiker’s experience. 

KELLY: Whether it’s a pit privy that is seeing too much use or improperly dug cat holes, all that poop can be a real problem. Already by the 1970s the trail clubs were seeing evidence of water contamination along the AT. In a 1978 Backcountry Sanitation survey, experts found that, “with the increased use of the Appalachian Trail, natural purity of backcountry water sources [could] no longer be assured” due to risks from both, “fecal and chemical contamination.”  

KELLY: And that brings us to our final and perhaps biggest problem with overfull pit toilets: disease.

[Music]

KELLY: Very few people walk out into the woods expecting to be squeaky clean. Let’s face it: if you spend more than a couple of days on the trail, you’re not the most sanitary of individuals. And hikers are not known to be regular hands washers. All those unwashed hands are prime conduits for what health officials call the “fecal oral pathway”. I think you get the picture. Whether it’s from a lack of proper personal hygiene or contaminated water sources, the risks posed to humans by other people’s waste are many.  E. coli, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, salmonella, typhoid, Covid-19, Monkeypox and more can be transmitted through contact with contaminated fecal matter. 

KELLY: Outbreaks of poop-borne diseases happen in part because of human waste that is improperly disposed of. Remember those piles of toilet paper some of our hikers were talking about earlier? They could potentially expose other hikers to a variety of those nasty pathogens. And once someone is exposed, it’s really easy for disease to spread by touching an unwashed hand or from other contaminated surfaces. Before you know it, disease moves up and down the trail and reaches shelters further and further away. And when disease strikes, the results are never pretty. 

[Ominous music]

KITCHEN SINK: When I was coming in the first hundred miles, near Franklin, I got norovirus. 

KELLY: That was Kitchen Sink, a 2021 thru-hiker. Like many hikers in the first sections of their thru hike, he probably picked up norovirus from someone who hadn’t washed their hands well enough. The symptoms are pretty easy to spot nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramping. In fact, 2016 saw a significant norovirus outbreak on the trail near Fontana Dam. Things got so bad that hikers began referring to that fun moment as Spewmageddon.

KELLY: Giardia is a common concern all along the trail, because it shows up in so many water sources. Most hikers think of it as “beaver fever” because any mammal can carry that nasty little parasite from one water source to another and beavers often get the blame. It’s worth remembering that humans are mammals too. The Giardia parasite in an infected person produces dormant cysts that are passed along to others through the infected person’s poop. If these cysts reach a water source and are ingested by someone else, then they grow into full-fledged parasites and start the process all over again. In her book titled How to Shit in the Woods, Kathleen Meyer explains how hardy these cysts can be: 

KATHLEEN MEYER, How to Shit in the Woods (1994) [voice actor ALISON LANGFORD]: Once the cysts have entered lakes and streams, they can remain viable for months–particularly in cold waters. Giardia cysts have been discovered in mountain headwaters, the alpine feeders that spring to life from rainfall and eventually wash down to form all our watercourses…It is still possible to scoop a cupful of pure water directly from a stream, but the risks aren’t worth it. Technically, as soon as water falls from the sky and lands on the ground or bubbles up to the surface from a natural spring, it is possible for Giardia to be present.

[Ominous music ends]

KELLY: I know I’m starting to sound like the voice of doom here. The good news is that these pathogens are simple to defeat and avoid. Just wash your hands regularly, filter your water, and if you are a cat hole person, do it the right way. But what about the privies? 

KELLY: When hiking on the AT really took off in the 1970s and 1980s, the ATC and the trail clubs had to decide what to do about the overuse of shelters and their companion privies. 

KELLY: Among the solutions was to relocate privies to more logical spots rather than placing them where the views were nice. Aesthetics and convenience took a backseat to protecting both the environment and the health of hikers.

KELLY: The ATC and its trail club partners also worked with the U.S. Forest Service to develop new types of privies that, they hoped, would work better than the old pit toilets. In the mid-1970s, Ray Leonard of the U.S. Forest Service and some trail club members came up with the batch-bin composting toilet system for high-use backcountry sites as an alternative to pit privies.

ANDREWS:  The club developed something called batch bin composting, in which the users of a privy were asked to add some bark mulch whenever they use the privy. They were asked not to urinate in privies but to go in the woods nearby because if urine collects in the catcher container in one of those privies it requires a lot more hauling in of bark mulch and that stuff is heavy and miserable to haul in. And periodically, the catcher is emptied into some large garbage cans next to the privy. And then when those are full, it's dumped into a big 280-gallon tub and stirred up with enough bark mulch so that it's not liquidy anymore and then left to compost. And compost pretty fast because it's well mixed and it builds up a high temperature. And then periodically it cools off and somebody has to mix it again, taking care to put outside portions that didn't get hot enough into the center. So, it will get hot enough in the next run. And after two or three runs, they figure it's finished. They put it in a roofed drying rack to continue to finish off for the course of a year, and then it can be spread in the woods. 

KELLY: Though batch-bin composting certainly works, it wasn’t a perfect solution. Enter Dick Andrews of the Green Mountain Club who we just heard from.  Dick joined the club in 1977, right around the time people up and down the trail were trying out new solutions to the “poop problem” facing the AT. Batch-bin composting was OK, but…

ANDREWS: I saw it as being labor intensive, expensive, kind of miserable to work with and I thought there ought to be a better way. And at that time, I had been building my own off the grid house, and we installed a Clivus Multrum, which was a Swedish design of composting toilet meant for indoor structures, not at an elevated temperature, everything happens slowly at a normal outdoor temperature or indoor if it happens to be indoors just like a garden compost pile. I developed an idea for a moldering privy, the term moldering indicating composting taking place at ambient temperature. 

KELLY: Here’s a quick run-down on how a moldering privy works. Basically, an outhouse sits on top of a foundation known as a crib. The crib itself sits in the soil only a few inches deep, right where the most active microorganisms live. As people use the outhouse, they drop in a handful of wood shavings so that the poop pile doesn’t get too compacted. All the while, those little microorganisms are decomposing away all that waste in a process known as “moldering,” or low-temperature composting. 
What he didn’t talk about was the fact that rats get into the cribs. 

KELLY: Occasionally, shelter maintainers like me need to come in to knock over the pile and distribute it throughout the crib. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Otherwise, it’s just a waiting game for the crib to fill up. And once it does – which sometimes takes as long as three years – the outhouse is moved to an empty crib and the old pile is mixed, leveled, and covered until it finishes composting. Then it’s literally just dirt and can be spread across the forest floor.

KELLY: Andrews and some Green Mountain Club volunteers built the first prototype moldering privy in 1997 at Little Rock Pond in Vermont, and it was extremely successful. Hikers commented that it was the best-smelling privy north of Georgia. After that first prototype, moldering privies were tweaked to optimize the composting process. Though not a no-labor design, the moldering privies are certainly less laborious to maintain than pit privies or batch-bin composting systems. 

KELLY: Perhaps one of the best parts of moldering privies is their relative lack of impact on the environment. Because moldering privies are designed with cribs to catch human waste for composting rather than bury it in the ground, fecal matter and its associated diseases don’t leach into groundwater or water sources. 

ANDREWS:  We had a group from Georgia, and they had put one in a few years earlier, at one of the shelters down there. And it apparently was quite an involved process, because it was within the watershed of Lake Lanier, which is the water supply for the city of Atlanta. And naturally, the city engineers were concerned about what kind of impact this might have. What I recall of what the folks told us was that they installed some test borings, so that they could periodically test any groundwater plume that might be working its way toward the reservoir. And they discovered that the groundwater plume was and remained cleaner than the water in Lake Lanier. So apparently it was working pretty well. 

KELLY: Properly composting human waste helps keep the environment around the privies cleaner and is better for hikers. Because of the temperatures within the piles, exposure to air, and destruction of nutrients needed by pathogens, composting and moldering privies are biologically safer for both the hiker using them and the maintainer cleaning them out. Head Crapper John Hedrick explains his experiences with the moldering privies:

HEDRICK: We go in and we remove the debris. The debris is basically dirt, absolutely no, no smell. It’s been looked at and analyzed, particularly down in the Smokys. So, there’s no active pathogens, or any of that type of stuff.  It’s nothing but dirt. It takes us about two hours to service one of the privies, and then we’re done with that one for another couple years. 

KELLY: In addition to being easy to clean and better for the environment, hikers enjoy the design of the moldering privies.

TOAD: So I think because of that design with the airflow those privies I think are, they're better ventilated, typically not have full walls, so it lets in more daylight, and those are the ones I prefer the most. They're fresher and they don't feel quite as claustrophobic as some of the pit toilets or other privies could be.

[Outro music]

KELLY: The ATC is currently in the process of gradually replacing its classic pit privies with moldering or other composting privies. It’s taking a while, though. Moldering privies are expensive to construct. Materials alone can cost as much as $2,500. In some cases, trail clubs fund their own privy construction. But in most cases, the clubs wait for funding assistance from the ATC, the National Park Service, or the Forest Service. Either way, this means the process of swapping out the old pit privies with new moldering ones is moving slowly. Also, moldering privies are a bit more complex to construct, but the ATC’s Backcountry Sanitation Manual contains all the plans and schematics needed to build one. And if you want to build one for yourself, you’ll find a link to the manual in our show notes.

KELLY: As Dick Andrews writes in the Sanitation Manual, “Trail maintainers should resist any suggestion that backcountry waste disposal systems are somehow substandard but tolerable because they are in remote locations. If this attitude is accepted, it will diminish the Trail’s prospects for continuing as a practical and enjoyable entity for future generations of hikers.” 

KELLY: It’s up to all of us hiking the Appalachian Trail to keep the trail as clean and safe as we can, especially when it comes to facing our own fecal failures. After all, everybody poops. So everybody can have a hand in keeping the trail enjoyable for not only your fellow hikers today, but for all those who will experience the AT in the future. After all, no one would be happy if hikers started calling the Green Tunnel the Brown Tunnel. 

[Music]

KELLY: Thanks for listening. And if you do poop out on the trail, please remember to follow proper procedures. Your fellow hikers will thank you.

[Music]

MADL: Thanks for listening to The Green Tunnel, a production of R2 Studios at George Mason University. Today’s episode was produced by me, Hayley Madl. Jeanette Patrick and Jim Ambuske are our executive producers. 

MADL: The Green Tunnel is a production of R2 Studios at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. 

MADL: A special thanks to our guests for this episode: Aaron “Toad” LaPrade, Dick Andrews, and John Hedrick. We also want to thank the hikers who talked to us on the trail, including Joe Permidotti, Darwin, Serendipity, Al, Strider, and Kitchen Sink. 

MADL: Thanks also to Alison Langford who read an excerpt from Kathleen Meyer’s How to Shit in the Woods.

MADL: Original music for The Green Tunnel is performed by Scott Miller of Swope, Virginia, and Andrew Small and Ashley Watkins of Floyd, Virginia.

MADL: Don’t forget to rate and review The Green Tunnel on your favorite podcast app. And be sure to share the show with your friends or on social media. 

MADL: Learn more about today’s episode, sign up for our newsletter, and check out our other great podcasts by visiting www.R2 Studios.org.

MADL: Thanks for listening and we’ll see you on trail soon. 

“Kitchen Sink”

Kitchen Sink is a long distance hiker who completed the Pacific Crest Trail in 2020, the Appalachian Trail in 2021, and is planning to hike the Continental Divide Trail in 2022 to complete the Triple Crown of long distance hiking in the United States.

Al "$tache" Riley

Albert Riley is a 2022 thru-hiker from London, England.

Emily "Strider" Rahn

Strider is a 2022 thru-hiker from Montana and writes for The Trek.

Aaron “Toad” LaPrade

Aaron LaPrade worked in aerospace as an engineer managing new development projects prior to starting his thru-hike as part of the Appalachian Trail Class of 2022. Aaron expressed interest in “The Crappalachian Trail” episode after meeting our host, Mills Kelly, at the Round Hill AT Festival. Aaron’s curiosity was sparked as he is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease patient, a privy and cat hole user, and an observer of the different types and conditions of trail privies.

Dick Andrews

Dick Andrews is a retired engineer and journalist active with the Green Mountain Club, which maintains the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail in Vermont. Dick developed the concept of the moldering privy in the 1990s and oversaw the installation of a successful prototype at Little Rock Pond Shelter in 1997. Dick also edited the first edition of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Backcountry Sanitation Manual and continues to be involved with the Green Mountain Club.

John Hedrick

John Hedrick is the Supervisor of Facilities for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the “Head Crapper” for the PATC’s “Crapper Crew,” which maintains the privies along the Appalachian Trail. John has been involved with the PATC and the Appalachian Trail for many years and has held other positions within the PATC.

Steve "Darwin" Payne

Darwin is a 2022 Appalachian Trail hiker.

Wendy "Serendipity" Boller

Serendipity is a 2022 Appalachian Trail hiker.

Joe Permidotti

Joe is a 2022 Appalachian Trail hiker.