A Day In The Life…of a Poo Truck Driver
By John Arenz
John Arenz and Merlin Scott in the RTF Poo Truck
I guess everyone knows by now that I’m the day to day poo truck driver for RTF. At this point it is also common knowledge that El Dorado County next season will take over this service. We (RTF) couldn’t be happier! When we built the poo truck, we did so as proof of concept. A little history, in 2010, the anti-Rubicon closurists were watching the trail intently. They campaigned the agencies (El Dorado County and the Forest Service), saying they couldn’t spend money putting bathrooms on the trail because they had no way to service them, and of course that they couldn’t spend money building a service truck because there was nothing to service. Chicken and egg, if you will. RTF built the truck and started providing the service to help solve the sanitation problem on the trail because it needed to be done, the same way the county built the bathrooms…because it needed to be done. Now that RTF has proven it can be done, it’s time for a government agency (the County) to take it over.
So on to the original subject. A typical day for me on the Unimog starts at Spider Lake. I pack a lunch, fill the mog with water and leave as early as I can. It takes me about five hours to go to the far end of Buck Island Lake, suck out the four toilets (about 350 gallons of poo slurry) and return to Spider, pumping the Arnold’s Rock toilet on the way back. From there it’s another two hours to the Ellis vault to dump, and two hours back to Spider. So a nine hour day. The following day, thankfully, is much shorter. It usually takes about 5 hours to do that. On the trail I chat with people on the trail, educate and just try to be friendly.
Sounds simple, and it is, usually. Of course, sometimes things don’t go as well. I’ve popped tires turning a nine hour day into a three day extravaganza trailering a new 250 pound tire and wheel in and changing it. I’ve also run out of gas in the pump and had to beg borrow, and steal fuel, ok mostly beg, from trail users (yeah, I know, dumb). Of course, users create roadblocks too. I HATE wipes. They clog the machine and must be removed using a hook and pliers. Please, please, don’t put wipes in the toilets! I’ve found some interesting stuff in toilets too…many pairs of underwear (men’s and women’s), pajamas, lots of random trash, full bags of trash, and one of my favorites, a block of cheddar cheese. Who does that? All of this stuff has to be removed, bagged, and placed in a leak proof bucket to be taken off the trail and placed in the trash. Yes, that happens in my personal rig.
I’m looking forward to next season!