A Seat at the Summit

Several weeks ago we met some old friends at Pike Lake State Park for a reunion. For many years our families spent the same week there each summer and their kids sort of became our kids. During the day we walked around the park reliving old memories and checking out the current state of the place.

pike lake toiletWhile many things have changed one constant is the presence of pit toilets throughout the park and camping area. Where such facilities were once the norm they are rapidly vanishing into the pages of history.

I posted a picture of one of these toilets just to evoke some memories and it did just that. It also got me thinking about a reality TV program I was watching about a family living in the wilds of Alaska and relying on a pit toilet.

Living in the Alaskan wilderness requires that in a short span of three months of summer you waste no time getting done all the things necessary for survival once the snows begin to blow. It requires utmost attention to the detail since there is little room for error.

While preparing for winter the one thing the family didn’t notice was the filling up of their pit toilet. The normal procedure is once the toilet has filled a new hole is dug some distance away, the outhouse that sits over the pit is moved t the new hole, and the old hole covered with dirt from the new hole.

Again, these poor folks didn’t notice it was time to dig the new hole until after the freeze set in. On one very chilly fall morning one of them walked down the path for a sit and found themselves poised on the pointed summit of a frozen mountain of poo. Just imagine experiencing an ice-cycle of poop trying to penetrate your porthole!

To solve their problem they had to build a huge fire on the ground where the new hold would be dug by hand, lay sheets of tin roofing over the hot coals, and allow the make shift oven to thaw the frozen ground so the dig could begin. When soften the new pit was dug and their very ornate outhouse moved to its new location.

I really don’t know why I thought any of you should know about this, it will probably never be the answer to a Jeopardy question. Nevertheless, I just think these things are inherently interesting and I enjoyed the challenge of writing about something many people don’t commonly talk about, let alone want to picture in their mind.

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