Trekkers of the Superior Hiking Trail might be familiar with the latrines — or outdoor toilets — located at each of the 94 campsites along more than 300 miles of trail between the Wisconsin and Canadian borders.
Users of these latrines might wonder who digs those pits underneath the throne. The answer: volunteers. That is why the Superior Hiking Trail Association, the nonprofit dedicated to maintaining and managing the trail, is hosting its second Elite Latrine Digging Squad training at 10 a.m. Aug. 17 somewhere in the Schroeder or Tofte area.
Those interested in learning how to dig latrines for the SHT should register for the training online. Those who register will receive notice of a more specific meeting spot closer to the date, as the SHTA is still assessing which latrines need to be replaced, trail development director Jo Swanson said.
Each volunteer who commits the training will be expected to dig at least two latrines sometime in the next year. That also means using the dirt from the new latrine to fill in the old latrine.
“The goal is that their shovel will never touch anything that's not dirt,” Swanson said. “I think people think they're going to be coming in contact with waste and the goal is for that not to happen. Obviously, you'll be around the waste, but we're trying to dig new latrines before any of the old ones are full.”
At the training, volunteers will dig a latrine together, but after that they’re on their own. Volunteers will claim which latrines they want to re-dig from a list of the ones that need attention, Swanson said, and fall tends to be the best season for doing so.
Swanson said the first Digging Squad training two years ago reached maximum capacity. Former trainees are invited to learn new techniques and help train new people.
“I’m very impressed that volunteers are able and willing to help us with this,” Swanson said. “At first, it doesn't sound like the world’s most fun project, but it's really needed and I think people really enjoy having that excuse to get outside and give back.”
About 30 latrines are re-dug on the SHT each year.
Go to the "SHTA Elite Latrine Digging Squad Training" event on Facebook for more information.