I had no idea how revolutionary this idea was until I met the neighbors. It’s right up there with “propane shower” in the anals of dry winter cabin lore.
Our little plot on Twin Lakes is a small tract of 4 cabins in a row. Adjacent to Twin Falls and right on the shore of the most southern corner of the Twin Lakes. On my next trip up to the cabin I was delighted to have an opportunity to meet the neighbors.
After all the usual how do you do’s and getting to hear about each other’s lives, I started to ask some big questions about winter cabin use. Being that I’m an avid downhill skier and I love cross country skiing as well, one of the most desirable things about this particular cabin was it’s convenient winter access and it’s location adjacent to the Tamarack Cross Country Ski Trail.
Being the new kid on the block, I had a lot of interest in how they have dealt with winters in the past since both of the other owners have owned their cabins for 10 + years. The cabin’s water being from a creek that froze in the winter I was curious about how they handled a “dry cabin” during the colder months. The other’s used their cabins minimally in the winter but were full of useful tips.
My favorite being: “ Don’t stick your head in any tree wells.”
This coming from the geologist neighbors who had us over for cheese and wine and filled our heads with all sorts of fun geological facts about the area. One being that Mammoth Mountain is a young volcano on the Long Valley Caldera and that the “Mammoth Scenic Loop” is actually an emergency evacuation route out of town! I also quizzed them about the potential dangers of earthquakes, since the year before while staying at the Cabins at Tamarack Lodge an earthquake shook the whole place. Their response was, “It should be fine since you don’t have a stone chimney.” Comforting….I think?
The geologists mentioned the greatest winter danger in the area was the Carbon Dioxide discharge from the ground that had killed a parcel of trees at Horseshoe Lake, one of the lakes directly above us. It builds up under the snow and collects in the tree wells. It was advised that we avoid sticking our heads near them. This has been really amusing to tell houseguests, I think they think it’s some kind of drinking joke. However, after my experience with Carbon Monoxide poisoning I was not interested in getting into trouble with any other types of carbon!
After these enlightening tips I got down to business about how they deal with their “business” during the winter. I was surprised to hear that both couples dealt with their, ahem, waste by various uses of double duty bags….! One couple simply put a hefty bag in a bucket, the other couple used an ammo can with a toilet seat similar to what the guides used when I rafted the Grand Canyon.
The neighbors had never considered the winter toilet idea and were excited by the idea and very curious about how it would work. Here I was to revolutionize the winters at the Twin Lakes Tract…!
I had done a lot of research on various toilet ideas for dry cabins and had finally settled on buying a compost toilet from Nature’s Head.
The Wynns had done a really great review on this one on their site gonewiththewynns.com for their RV and there was definitely a movement (no pun intended) towards these with eco conscious folks.
At a $1000 price tag this was a pretty big investment, but the alternative of having to deal with my own manure every time I went to the cabin in the winter was very unattractive. I also was planning on using the cabin a lot more in the snow season then the other cabin owners. Realizing that the winter season in Mammoth normally runs from October to May, that means 8 months of having to poop in a bucket if I didn’t get the toilet. Gross.
Since becoming the proud owner of a compost toilet it is the ONLY thing anyone wants to hear about the cabin. I never knew a toilet could have so much interest for people!
Wait till I get that propane shower to use next season…..