Guide to Outdoor Etiquette

Originally published in the Winter 18-19 issue of SPOKE+BLOSSOM.

Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed by our etiquette expert do not reflect the views of S+B staff. In fact, in most cases, we probably would advise doing the opposite of what is recommended here. 

Our kids are finally old enough to go on a backpacking trip, but they are concerned about “pooping in the woods.” What are the most up-to-date strategies for leaving no trace? Any tips on making the idea less concerning to our kids?

Ahh, pooping in the woods …  It really brings me back to my early 40s in Central Park. 

There are many options for this necessity, ranging from the old digging a latrine to using special kits/bags designed for this occasion. Either way, you “defecately” (wordplay) want to leave no trace behind (pun intended). 

If you dig a latrine, make sure it is far off the trail, deep enough, and covered up properly when done.  Leave No Trace’s website and online shop ( offer information and supplies for properly dealing with waste. 

As for the kids, since I am a mediocre parent with questionable judgment at best, I may not be the best person to ask. However, since you did ask: You could either offer them a hearty meat-and-cheese diet or lots of dried fruits. Either way, they will find their own path to overcoming their concerns. My son is pleased to poop anywhere, much like a dog on a trail.

What’s the protocol when encountering rattlesnakes on the trail?

In all of my years running and hiking our local trails, I have never seen one. Umm, I mean they are ALL OVER Pollack Bench Trail. Stay away from there! 

Beyond that, should you encounter a rattlesnake, stop immediately. If you can’t see it, try to locate where the sound is coming from and back away. If you see the snake, move away. Do not poke it, throw anything at it, or try to take a selfie with it. 

Come to think of it, life would be a lot easier if my wife was equipped with a rattle warning me when she was annoyed and about to strike. Like the feared rattlesnake, she carries potent venom.

My friends and I enjoy the outdoors, and there are times we have to change out of clothes with very little privacy. Is it OK to be nude, or partially nude, in the wilderness when there might be strangers nearby? 

I approach nudity with an Irish-German Catholic upbringing. Your body is disgusting and should be hidden, sinner. 

Look, changing happens in the outdoors, just like the aforementioned poopin’ in the woods. Most people know they may see some skin at a campsite or trailhead, but make it quick. Change in a car, behind a bush, under a towel, etc. If you can’t, then just get it done. 

It isn’t a huge deal, but a little discretion goes a long way. While there are only a few letters different in partially nude and party nude, I think we can agree it is a big difference. 

Finally, since most men seem to think nudity isn’t a big deal, I asked my wife to chime in on this topic. Her take is, “All nudity should be as infrequent as possible.” I’m not sure she actually listened to the question.

What are your favorite West Slope trails for checking out fields of wildflowers? 

I’m a busy man. I don’t have time for this tomfoolery!

In late spring on top of the Mesa, the colors are to-die-for (though my color palette is an autumn). The San Juans are pretty spectacular as well.

I recently moved back to Colorado and have decided I’m going to hike the Colorado Trail before I turn 50 (in four years). Any advice on how I should start planning this endeavor?

Whoa, four years left to live. That is heavy. Check out: Also, tell someone before you leave.

S+B StaffHumor