All right. Those of you with weak stomachs when it comes to the practicality of animal poop might want to skip this post. And no there are no videos or pictures depicting defecation. This is a post about some important life lessons I’ve learned in the wilderness.
Last week, my husband and I went for the most amazing hike. We went up a social trail to the top of a mountain.
Once we got up there, we decided to follow the cliff line, which led us to a game trail.
Then we cut down between two lakes and onto a national park trail.
It was epic and amazing, and we stayed safe in great part because of the poop.
We found large amounts of animal poop. Scat for ground squirrels, snowshoe hares, moose and even bears! Lots and lots of poop for moose and bears! Lots of moose and bear poop means lots of moose and bears, which is not ideal when you’re following the animal-made trail to water in the animals’ environment.
Now, under normal walking circumstances, the only reason that you would care if you spotted poop would be to (hopefully) avoid stepping in it. But in the great wonderland of Denali, seeing lots of moose poop, especially fresh moose poop, means that you need to make a lot of noise while you hike so the moose know you’re coming and have time to wander away. And if you’re walking down a social trail and find bear poop, that means project your human voice for Jesus so the bear will decide he’s not hungry for people and move on to eating some cute little ground squirrel.
Poop isn’t just a way of ridding the body of waste. It’s a way of warning other animals that this is your turf and you will kill them for crossing your territory. Unless you’re a dog living in Manhattan, in which case pooping is your way of showing your master who’s boss while they pick us your warm moist poop in a thin plastic baggie.
But in Denali, poop is the difference between a great hike and a cautionary tale.