• Laura Ventresco

Mt Jackson: A Tale of Fall Foliage and Human Feces

Peaks: Jackson

Miles: 5.6

Hike Date: 10/14/2017

Summit Beer: Budlight

Boy, do I have a story for you guys!

The first time I hiked Mt. Jackson was back in October of 2016. Luna was still a puppy and I just could never get enough of her or enough time in the mountains. I was pretty new to solo hiking at this point, but excited to keep pushing my limits. Work was stressful and I desperately needed a "Me" day. We called out of work, and set off for Crawford Notch- singing the whole way. It turned out to be the best day ever. It was warm and sunny for October. Foliage was in absolute peak. Trails were quiet mid week, and I fed Gray Jays right from my hand on the trail. It was refreshing to say the least, a quiet day in the mountains, all to myself.

Pictured Below: Luna puppy on Mt. Jackson

Fast forward to October 2017

John still needed Mt. Jackson for his 4000 footer list. Since I loved this hike so much I couldn't wait to share it with him and hoped he would have this same magical experience as I did this first time around.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, things were not as spectacular. We made the best of the day, despite the shitty circumstances. (Haha, shitty, get it? Just be ready for poop puns)

This hike is really a great one. I knowwww I say that about all the hikes I write about, but just believe me. The trail is really different, its almost like it continually changes and keeps things very interesting as you hike it. One moment you are blissfully strolling through the woods nice and smoothly. The next you are scrambling up some rocks like a spiral mountain staircase. I hear wonderful things about Mt. Webster as well, which can be hiked in a loop with Jackson. Both times I have done Jackson I didn't make it over, but it's on my list! & You'll be sure to hear about it once I get there.

John and I are hiking along, really appreciating the ever changing magic trail and before we know it, we are at the trail junction (WHOO! Remember we get excited when we see a sign, same as in life). Here we have a quick convo- where I try to convince him that we should go to Webster first. Because I knowww if we go to Jackson first... we will never make it to Webster after. The summit excitement kicks in, you snack, you rest, and you're ready to go home- not to another peak. John could care less about Webster and opts we just get Jackson for today. I agree, after whining a little, and we take a left towards Jackson.

We should've went to Webster first... not 0.2 of a mile later I hear John correcting the dogs ahead and telling me they're eating and rolling in something. I'm yelling the command "Leave it" but I'm too far behind and too late.

Its poop.

My dog just ate poop and rolled in it & has someone's poop smoosh cake All. Over. Her. Muffin. Head. The worst part about this, is that this is human poop. WHAT KIND OF HUMAN POOPS RIGHT NEXT TO A TRAIL! Oh my god. Like go walk further in the woods! Bury it under a stick, do anything that would indicate you are a normal, correctly raised human. It was so close to the trail that if another hiker popped up, this person would've been caught red hand taking a poop in the incorrect- leaving a trace (A HUGE TRACE) kinda way. People have asked me, how do I know this was human? It's the only poop they do it too. We pass all kinds of poop while hiking- dog poop, bear poop, weird poop from a small animal, moose poop even! They don't even touch it. Human? The sickos smear it on their face.

John and I in attempts to remove Luna from the situation had grabbed the top of her harness, and somehow managed to get poop on our hands. So we are on a mountain, and everything is really shitty. It smelled like this person ate what farm animals eat. It was bad! It lingered. We poured water on our hands. Then rubbed them in dirt. Then contemplated if we even needed hands, like let's just cut these off, or burn them, or wear sanitary gloves full time from this moment on. It was slightly traumatic, and I hope you guys are now laughing at my expense.

Now due to being on a mountain, we have very limited resources. For example, the water we have with us, is our drinking water. & of limited supply. We were really close to the top, so we decided to trek on, and think about how we would clean Luna as we went. We were pretty angry, and the smell of poop was following us. Luckily, just up trail. I find some water. Hallelujah.

I grab Luna and assess the situation... working with only what I had. I had to sacrifice my favorite pink bandanna to use as a cloth dipping it in the water, and back onto her to remove the feces. She looked at me, as if she understood that she F'd up. "I'm sorry Momma, this smells so bad and THANK god you are here to save me." Her brand new harness was also, smeared in poop. I always try to follow "Leave No Trace." Sometimes that's not the easiest thing to do.. that means I also got to pack out all of these poop covered items. Gallon Zip lock bags- absolutely hiking lifesavers. In went her harness, my poor pink bandanna and all of our dignity. Through this entire mountainside poop washing experience, I remained calm. & did what I had to do to get shit done, so we could keep hiking. I would say a pretty badass dog mom to handle something like this in a pinch.

As we completed the rest of our hike, I couldn't help but stare and judge every hiker I passed. Assessing everyone to see if they looked like someone who pooped outside today. Periodically, wafts of poop would come back. The hikers we passed.. were probably judging us too and thinking of how we smelled terribly. I awkwardly tried to warn other hikers with dogs, in case their dog also enjoyed shit snacks. Many thanked me and empathized our prior turn of events.

At the top, I decided to snack.. without using my hands. For obvious reasons. The summit beer helped boost morale and was very much needed. We were greeted by some Gray Jays, although they were cautious of approaching us (maybe because our dogs, but more likely because we smelled), John was able to get one to land on him and shared some Pirate's Booty.

My snacks I had to "hands free" attempt to eat. We also brought sandwiches.. but had no appetite for them.

We hung out for a while- enjoying all the views and snacks. We were able to find a quiet corner of this somewhat busy summit. Lots of people and families were out today (potential culprits of trailside pooping.) I try not to hold grudges... but this grudge, I'm going to hold onto it for a little while.

Blaze was here too, but mostly avoided my camera in poop eating shame.

On the hike down we leashed Blaze and Luna to try and prevent a re-do of previous events. We rushed home where Luna got a bath and we washed our hands hundreds of times.

As spectacular of a hike as this is, I want you guys to proceed with caution if you choose to hike Poop Mountain. It is a very busy hike, with lots of people, but very beautiful views.

And if you should ever have to poop in the woods... there is a proper way to do it.

How to Poop in the Woods like a Respectable Adult

Just don't. Use the bathroom before you leave like everyone else. But if you must- then follow steps 1-6.

  1. Buy a trowel. Keep it in your pack just in case.

  2. Walk away from the trail and away from any water sources.. like aways away! You do not want to get caught with your pants down

  3. Use said trowel, to dig a hole

  4. Commune with nature

  5. Use trowel again to COVER it. Please for the love of god

  6. Pretend this never happened, and continue hiking

Let's also pretend we live in a world where I don't have to tell the internet how to poop outside. I hope that you all find some entertainment out of this torture story that took place. I will let you laugh at my expense this one time. One time only.

Things I will ALWAYS bring hiking now (& You should too)

  1. Hand Sanitizer

  2. Gallon Zip Lock Bags

  3. Extra Paper towels

  4. Bandanna (AKA Emergency Wash Cloth)

Happy hiking friends!

-Laura the Explorer

34 views1 comment