Sara Larsen: Groover Tales from Labyrinth Canyon

Groover: a bucket or rocket box with a detachable toilet seat that is used as a means of disposing fecal matter on river trips. The number one rule of the Groover is DO NOT pee in the Groover. The second rule is to always remember to bring the key back or put the paddle up after use or the next person in line will risk soiling themselves, while waiting for no one.

The following story is one many, on and off the course, will be reading or hearing for the first time. The people, places, and events, are real.

I woke up early on our last day in Trin Alcove due to a grumbling in my tummy. The dinner from the night before was not sitting well with me and if I didn’t unzip my bag and run to the Groover fast, my tent mate Katie would not be happy…nor would I at the idea of rinsing poop off my sleeping bag. Luckily, I was the only one awake and the Groover was wide open. I made it just in time and was able to return to my warm bag for another hour of sleep before the breakfast call.

One thing that those of you reading this should know about me: I’m not the fastest mover in the morning and usually I’m the last one packed. On this morning, after breakfast, my stomach was still not in tip top shape and another trip to the Groover was in order. I decided to multitask to ensure I would be ready on time. I brought my toothbrush along, figuring I could sit and enjoy the morning on the Groover while brushing my teeth. This Groover was set up on riverfront property and was nicely covered by willows and Tamarisk. It made sense to brush my teeth because afterwards I could just spit my paste into the river on the way back to camp, being extra efficient. Everything was going smoothly, the last of my dinner was being processed and my teeth were feeling minty-fresh. I got up with my toothbrush still in my mouth and reached for the hand sanitizer when all of a sudden, *scurry, scurry, scurry, rustle, rustle, rustle*, two squirrels ran out from the willows and back into them on the other side, giving me quite the scare and causing my toothbrush to fall from my mouth. “Goodness,” I sighed then looked on the ground for my toothbrush, which, surprise, surprise, was no where to be found. I slowly leaned over the Groover and discovered that my toothbrush had fallen directly in as a result of the squirrel ambush.

“Katie, do you have an extra toothbrush?” I asked in a somber tone sulking back to the tent. “Yeah, I do actually, why?” she inquired. I held up my toothbrush in between my thumb and pointer finger far away from my face as if I were holding a smelly diaper and replied, “Because I just dropped mine in the Groover.” Katie burst out laughing as I dropped my germ ridden tooth brush into my trash bag and lathered on hand sanitizer. “I’m never brushing my teeth on the toilet again,” I said.

Now, I wish all of this were true, but alas, I have concocted the entire story from my imagination and I still have a poop free toothbrush. However, I thought it would be fun to write a post about the Groover and how even though it is a portable toilet, it brings people together and has an assortment of uses!

Having experience with the Groover, I was excited to have one this trip instead of the average trowel to dig a cat hole method we have been using. Why wouldn’t you want to sit on an actual toilet seat as opposed to in between two rocks? My course mates were not too fond of having to carry our poop along with us down the river however. Although, without the Groover would we have had as many laughs or shared as many embarrassing poop stories? The Groover brings people together and encourages teamwork. No one wants to be left alone on Groover crew and everyone wants the Groover lid to be screwed on as quickly as possible so we all worked together to pack up the bucket of feces in a timely fashion so the smell didn’t linger. I’d say it also promoted more personal hygiene. With the hand sanitizer bottle being left by the paddle, more people most likely remembered to wash their hands after using the bathroom, which I’m sure many forget when their cat hole is covered. Also, everyone has to be on Groover crew at some point so nobody gets left out! The Groover is usually placed in a scenic area, providing a nice peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily river life and sometimes you make new friends with kayakers that float by and wave as you sit on the plastic throne. The Groover can also provide some daily exercise; I for one get an excellent buns and thigh workout in while trying not to pee in the Groover. Groover stories are hilarious and John brought along a book on horrifyingly disgusting Groover stories that were read as an after dinner treat or a lunchtime floatilla story to be enjoyed by all. The Groover although quite repulsive, can always be counted on for group bonding and in fact, I think many of us will be missing the Groover on the Dark Canyon section as we wipe with twigs and pine for the comfort of a plastic seat.

So next time you want to turn up your nose (or plug it) when the Groover is mentioned, think about your Groover experience. If you’re lucky you haven’t dropped your toothbrush in it or gotten it spilled on you just yet, and it can be thought of fondly.

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