Last Update: 5/25/2016

Shit in Woods Goes Gross to Nightmare

Photo of cathole with shit and pee in it, next to used toilet paper, baby wipes, and handheld mattock/pick. Text says, “The Dark Side of Vandwelling? Shitting in the Woods. Like a Bear.”
What’s the dark side of living in a van down by the river? Assault by druggies? Cops? Bears? No, it’s shitting in a hole. Today, it went from gross to nightmare ...
It Starts By Raining

I’m camped in Bridger-Teton National Forest. Beautiful site, right across from Grand Tetons National Park. But it’s dispersed camping, and there’s no toilet.

This morning, it was in the mid-40s and raining. Scattered goddamned thunderstorms all day. So, I was holding my shit, brown dog barking at my back door, waiting for a break in the rain. Then it came. The break, I mean.

Out I went, back into the bushes behind a hill, and dug a cathole. I used my minipick to dig a 6”-deep hole through the rocky soil.

That done, I take off my shorts and undies, hanging them on a bush.

Things Go Bad to Worse

Just as I’m squatting, I feel the sprinkles. Ah, shit, I think to myself, I better fuckin’ hurry this up. Hope the toilet paper doesn’t get soaked.

The loaf starts a-comin’ out of the oven. As the first piece breaks off, I realize I’ve missed the hole. Fuck. But hey, at least it’s not on my shoe, right?! So I skootch forward a bit, and keep on blasting.

Naturally, it’s not coming out in clean, dry rabbit pellets. It’s big, squishy, and sticky. Note to self: Eat less fiber, more cheese.

Fully relieved, I grab a stick and scrape the off-target poop into the hole. A tiny bit somehow gets on my finger. Great.

I chuck the stick away and pull out my roll of TP. Working through the sticky mess, wad after wad, I get to white.

Finishing up, I clean my danglies with a baby wipe and start after my bungholio. As I’ve manifestoed before, keeping a clean ass is a top priority for vandwellers.

The Prison Nightmare Begins

Cleanup done, I’m just coming out of the squat to walk over and grab my undies and shorts off the bush. Then I hear the engine and look up

Cover of "All the Whores I Knowed Before" a book by Vanholio! For sale on Click through.Out of 3.4 million goddamned acres in Bridger-Teton, some dude finds his way up into my business! His truck is parked right up the hill from me in my full-moon glory! What to fucking do?

Well, weren't nothin' to do. I put on my clothes, carefully stash the used TP and baby wipes into a trash Ziplock, cover the hole, gather my items, and start walking to camp.

Man steps out of the truck but says nothing. Doesn't look down at me. Don’t know if he even saw me.

Not sure I care. I guess I’m not as weirded out as I’d think I’d be. Not the nightmare I expected.

I figure if he did catch site, it’ll give him the nightmare. Or a home fapping video in his brain. Either way, that’s his fucking problem.

And if he gets any ideas, Vanholio’s got a machete. I’ll be aimin’ low, too … Snickersnack!

But It's Fucking Worth It!!!

Click to Blow Up Bigger

Look at this photo and tell me that my crazy shit in the woods weren't worth it? I mean, how much would you have to pay for real estate like this?

Besides, in the last year of van life, this is only the fourth or fifth time I’ve had to make like a bear in the woods. Vault toilets are in most parks and forests these days. And on the road and in cities, I’ve always found a john in gas stations, coffee shops, and the like.

So, yeah, shitting in a cathole sucks. But it don’t come up that often none.


  1. Anonymous27.6.17

    Precisely why I choose to join the Air Force, and not the Army...Usually deployed with Marines, though,and ended up shorting in holes, anyway.

    Such is life...Thanks, Vanholio.

    1. At least I ain't got no one shootin' at me!

  2. Anonymous23.7.17

    Lucky you if you as a van-dweller have not had to visit the woods for #2-business more than five times a year. I cannot say the same. Wife and I, both teachers, enjoy a long summer vacation which we try to spend going around with our quite old van (without a toilet) in Europe where we live. This year we have been around with our van for five weeks now (and have three more to go). And up to now I guess that we have had access to something that resembles a toilet less than 1/3 or even 1/4 of the days. Probably situation here is unlike USA as even many nature parks are not equipped with proper facilities. Then the solution often has been to pick up the roll of tp and get away to find a suitable spot where the task can be done in a decent way. Without a door to lock that may be a challenge, especially in the morning when staying at popular sites. After such experiences you will never be in doubt about being the only one with such needs. A certainly unconfirmed fact is that it seems like many van-dwellers even with a toilet in their cars even prefer going to the bushes with their needs (to avoid that the partner smells or hears? or just reduce the need for emptying the tank so often?) When we were yonger (years back) we often tried to postpone the morning call till we could pass a toilet along the road. That was no good strategy. Often we had to make a stop at a lay-by where conditions as to privacy and hygienic aspects were much less satisfying that out there in the real wilderness. Another small trick when staying together with friends is to avoid following or suggest coming with for a walk when the other obviously is about to take a stroll alone. The purpose is almost always to find a spot to take care of duties. It is not a nice experience when the upcoming daughter in law suddenly appears when sitting there with shorts at the knees. It was a traumatic incident for both of us. Some years later, when we were able to speak about it, she told that she had heard me say to my wife that I had to go to the toilet and then thought that the toilet blocks were in that direction. Luckily the incident have not made her afraid of outdoor live. She now even enjoys van-dwelling. Many stories could have been told. I shall stop here. The text is too long as it is.

    1. Man, I'm glad the USA has more decent toilets, including in wild places courtesy of the government. Some folks over here bring portable toilets -- -- which range from simple to fancy. But I never found a need.

  3. Anonymous30.8.17

    Why bother? Isn't going to toilet in the bushes something that every hiker and biker knows all about? I guess that lots of van campers also know it very well. And, really, who cares? Every sensible person knows that taking a dump is something that every sound person does daily? And when out there, with no door to lock, you certainly try to find a private spot, but can never be sure that nobody comes by. It has happened to me, certainly a bit embarrassing there and then. Even more embarrassing walking in on friends and strangers sitting there with a bare bum. But it occasionally occurs. But when having taken considerate care and not exposing oneself explicitly, I guess nobody will be offended. But certainly some insane persons may be around. This summer my wife discovered a man probably intentionally observing her when she was relieving herself in the woods at a canoe hike. Luckily she is a robust woman who could brush it off by saying poor guy who finds joy in such a pursuit.

  4. Anonymous2.11.17

    Well, but still it is quite embarrassing when someone shows up just when sitting there with the bum bare! I tell from experience!

  5. Anonymous7.3.18

    "That done, I take off my shorts and undies, hanging them on a bush."

    With my luck someone would nick these as soon as I started growing a tail....

    1. And no fig leaves to be found ...

  6. Anonymous2.4.18

    I had a weird experience last summer. My boy friend and I had rented a van. (First time in my life in a van.) We were wildcamping and surfing along the Atlantic coast of Europe. I think none of us had made any detailed considerations on how to go to toilet, more than imaging that toilets would be around almost everywhere. Already the first morning at a beach in Portugal this turned out to be a challenge. Immediately after breakfast I understood that there would be no way around dropping a deuce. There was no toilet close to the parking lot but I saw a man with a roll of toilet paper in his hands walking along a small path away from the parking area. Silly me thought that it was the way to the toilet blocks so I went over there too. Suddenly I heard a voice from the side saying 'sorry, occupied'. There this poor guy was squatting, shorts at the knees, an anxious smile on his face, trying to hide as best as he could. I stottered 'excuse me' and went quickly away. Then I realized that there was no toilet around and that I just had to find another place where I could do my business. Let away with all pride. I am not shy about nudity, but I still remember how embarrassing it was to pull down and squat that first time, even without nobody around. That was my first outdoor crap ever. I soon got used to the lack of privacy, I must say. It became so obvious that everybody had the same needs out there.

    1. THat's how our ancestors did it forever, but it's funny how weird it is to get used to it. People are near as particular as cats about where we crap.

  7. Anonymous11.7.18

    Early morning. Resting area without a toilet. Went into the woods to take care of morning business. Squatting with pants at the knees. Roll of toilet paper in my hands. Suddenly a fit female runner came by. I guess both of us got surprised (it was well away from any paths). Luckily it ended with an embarrassing smile from both of us.

  8. Anonymous1.11.18

    Pooping in the woods is not only for van dwellers. Just been camping at a popular beach for surfers. Facinating every morning to observe young surfers trying to hide in the scrubs squatting with shorts at the knees or walking away with the roll of tp in their hands. Male as well as females. No difference.

  9. Anonymous9.2.19

    For more than 40 years my wife and I have been living in a van for several weeks every summer and lots of weekends too. When we started in the 1970s it was unusual to have a toilet in the car and facilites along the roads and at resting areas were few. Going in the bushes when in need was a regular pursuit. Just going for a walk alone in the woods and get it done. Everyone did it. When staying together with others it did not even become a topic for discussion. We have never had a van with a toilet and mostly we stay in very remote areas. Thus we still do it that way. Picking up the roll of paper and heading for the woods have become an integrated part of van life, "topping" the feeling of freedom of van life. Finding some shelter for gaining privacy, pulling down and enjoying the morning and the process of bodily relief is the perfect start of a new day. My wife says that she will continue enjoying van life as long as her joints allow her to squat!

    1. I been at this, what, more than three years now, give or take? Still don't carry a toilet. My attempts at humor aside, taking a dump in nature ain't no big deal. Much better than carryin' around your waste in a bucket. Hell, our ancestors did it since forever! ... Glad ta hear you and the wife are still enjoyin' the vanlife. :-)

    2. Anonymous24.3.19

      Amusing! When I occasionally spot mature freedom campers squatting with a bare bum out there, it leaves me with an optimistic perspective on my own future. Age is no barrier for a free life.

  10. Anonymous7.4.19

    This brings back embarrassing memories from last summer. We were staying at a large parking area at a beach in Spain. Many van campers used it as an unofficial camping site. Every morning we were reminded that all of us had the same needs. Even some of those with a toilet in the van went to the bushes to take care of business. No difference. The grey haired German man, the mature Dutch woman, the young Swiss surfers etc were all spotted when unsuccessfully trying to hide when squatting with shorts at the knees. At the time it for sure was a bit embarrassing but afterwards somewhat amusing to think of.

    1. Birds do it, bees do it
      Even educated fleas do it
      Let's do it, let's [take a dump]

      In Spain, the best upper sets do it
      Lithuanians and Letts do it
      Let's do it, let's [take a dump]

  11. Anonymous22.5.19

    I just have to join in on this amusing thread. Van life is a highly unpredictable pursuit, especially when driving around. You often do not know how or even exactly where the day will end. Being more specific, you never know where you have to go to toilet. Some times it may be decent facilities along the route. More often you will encounter those ordinary, a bit filthy blocks at resting areas, but still with a door to lock. But quite frequently I have found it necessary to negotiate with Mother Nature where to find a suitable spot to fulfill my duty. Sometimes that it quite easy and even enjoyable. Finding some dense bushes or being alone with a marvelous view of the Pacific Ocean may be an ideal starting point of a van day. Other times it may turn out to be a most embarrassing activity. Words do not come easy when the nice young woman from the van neighbors turn up just when you are squatting, or not to mention when yourself is walking in on the wife of one of the friends just as she is exposing her full moon to the ground. Luckily I think most of us live according to the rule I learnt from my mother when I as a child eagerly told her that I had spotted my aunt when she was squatting in the woods on a hike. "Such things shall be forgotten and remain in the woods"