Block mountains

Hikers must now pack the Guadalupe Mountains wilderness poo

Hikers planning to explore the wilderness of Guadalupe Mountains National Park this summer should now pack another essential item: toiletry bags.

Starting June 1, day hikers and those planning to camp overnight will be required to pack humane waste in landfill-safe toilet bags.

“The bag-in-a-bag design and zippered closure safely contain waste and odors, while the special polymer blend instantly breaks down waste and turns it into a deodorized gel,” reads a statement from National Park Service press.

One bag per person per night will be required for overnight stays, and officials said hikers will be asked to provide proof they have the correct number of bags before a permit is issued. Day hikers are asked to carry an appropriate number of packs for the group.

Commercial waste systems must be able to be disposed of safely in trash cans or landfills.

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However, any hiker who forgets can pick up trash bags at the Pine Springs Visitor Center.

The new rule is the result of growing numbers of visitors to the park, officials said in the news release, and the growing visibility of human waste and toilet paper “along trails, high-use areas and primitive campsites”.

The park recorded 243,000 visitors in 2021, an increase of 28% from the 189,000 visitors in 2019.

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“The highest point in Texas is not a toilet,” Superintendent Eric Leonard said. “This requirement asks visitors to take responsibility for their environmental impacts when visiting the park.”

Toiletry bags — also known as WAG (garbage and gel) bags — can improve the aesthetics of wilderness areas and prevent water contamination and the spread of disease, according to the Center for Outdoor Ethics.

The Center’s Leave No Trace program, which encourages minimal impact on public and wild lands, said the toiletry bag systems can be purchased at any major or specialty outdoor retailer.

Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.