Sanitation and Water Treatment
Treat All Drinking Water! Water is readily available in most areas of the park, though there are exceptions. On higher ridges and in some areas along the coastal strip, water may be hard to find during late summer. Inquire about water sources. Water from coastal streams typically has a harmless "tea" stain from root tannins.
Giardia lambia, a protozoan that can cause mild to severe diarrhea or severe intestinal distress requiring medical treatment, exists in the some water in the Olympics. Be prepared to boil (one full minute at a rolling boil), filter or chemically treat all drinking water. Carry a large collapsible water container in addition to a smaller water bottle. Use the larger container to collect water when in camp. Treat water from this container to minimize trips and damage to the streamside or lake shore.
If a toilet is present, use it. If no toilet is available, bury your waste 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet away from campsites or water sources. Wash yourself and your dishes at least 200 feet from campsites or water.
Human waste can affect water quality and wilderness aesthetics. In areas where there is no toilet, dig a cathole at least 200 feet from water sources and well away from campsites. Use a trowel or ice ax to dig a shallow pit six to eight inches deep in organic soil. Completely bury human waste, then fill and disguise the hole.
Use toilet paper sparingly. Bury it completely or better yet, carry it out. Always carry a plastic zipper bag to carry your used toilet paper in. Toilet paper should not be burned because of fire hazard. Remove diapers, tampons and sanitary napkins to the frontcountry for disposal.
When traveling over extensive snow fields, or in the winter when organic soil is not exposed, human waste should be buried near the surface at least 200 yards from any campsite or established travel route.
Pit, composting and vault toilets are available in many popular areas of the wilderness. Human body waste must be disposed of in these structures when you are within 1/4 mile of a toilet. You are encouraged to urinate on rocks or on the trail, away from water sources. This reduces vault toilet fill and minimizes plant and soil damage caused by wildlife digging for human salts.
Only human waste and toilet paper are to be deposited in toilets. Other materials, such as hygiene products and disposable diapers, interfere with composting processes and clog the pumps used to empty vaults. These materials also introduce nondegradable material and fill toilets too quickly.
Washing of body, dishes or clothing should occur a minimum of 200 feet from any campsite or water source. If you must use soap, use a minimal amount. Remember that even biodegradable soap breaks down slowly or not at all in cold water. Never put any kind of soap in streams or lakes. All soapy water should be disposed of 200 feet from any lake or stream. When washing pots and dishes, strain and pack out food particles from your wash water.
Waste Disposal on Mount Olympus
A "blue bag" policy for removal of human fecal waste has been adopted for the Mount Olympus climbing routes, including Blue Glacier. This effort is to reduce the amount of human waste encountered while climbing the mountain. Free "blue bags" are available at the climb registry box at Glacier Meadows. The collection site for used bags is located on the lateral moraine about one mile above Glacier Meadows. Help us by doing your part, so all can enjoy the best possible climbing experience.