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The Gearboat Chronicles

All You Need to Know About Using a Toilet on a White Water Rafting Trip

If this is your first time white water rafting or embarking on a rafted multi-day fishing trip, you’re probably excited. You should be! Rafting trips are often even more fun than our customers expect. It’s a trip you’ll be talking about for the rest of your life.

One thing many of our clients don’t necessarily think of when planning their trip, however, is where they will go to the bathroom. While you may have experience going #1 out in nature without much worry, less have experience with going #2.

Enter the groover, a piece of equipment as necessary as the raft itself for a successful multi-day rafting trip.

In this post, we’ll go over just what a groover is, why it’s important we use one, and what you can expect from the experience when out on the beautiful rivers of eastern Oregon.

What exactly is a groover?

A groover is a portable toilet. It’s illegal to raft certain rivers without one, including the rivers we raft here at Winding Waters River Expeditions — the Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde rivers.

Groovers are an outstanding piece of equipment, as they are designed to be as clean and secure as possible. There’s even a comfortable toilet seat on the groover. You’ll have all the conveniences of your home’s bathroom even out on the river (plus a beautiful view of a wild and scenic Pacific Northwest river).

When not set up for use, groovers lock securely, keeping everything where it needs to be. When emptied at the end of the trip, a secure hose is used to empty the groover, meaning the outside of the groover stays clean throughout the process.

Fortunately for you, this will not be a worry for you on your trip. Your guides will handle setup, packing, transportation, and cleaning of the groover.

Fun fact: Why is it called a groover?

Back in the day, instead of stable, lockable vault boxes that prevented leaks, ammo cans were used to hold waste. Ammo cans are rectangular in shape, and when sat on to do “business” would leave grooves on the users’ backsides.

While similar cans are used today to hold all sorts of items on the river, groover toilet systems have come a long way in recent years. We can all be thankful we have access to high-tech, vault toilets over the ammo cans of years past.

Why is the groover necessary?

As mentioned above, it is actually illegal to not have a portable toilet when on the river. Even if it weren’t, there would be no other place to go. The places we float at Winding Waters River Expeditions are in the wild. Bathrooms are simply not available where we spend our days and evenings.

We’ve had brave souls tell us in the past they’d rather just “go in the woods” to avoid using the groover. Due to many of these rivers’ protection by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and their conservation management, it’s bad practice to go anywhere but the toilet.

We want to make sure the rivers stay clean so rafters from the Pacific Northwest and the rest of the world can enjoy them for generations to come. The groover is an important part of this effort, and a necessary piece of equipment for our ability to sustainably raft these rivers.

How will the groover be used on our rafting and fishing trips?

When out on the river, we try to make going to the bathroom as easy as possible for everyone. This is your trip and we want to make sure you’re able to relax at the end of a long day rafting.

To ensure this, we have a protocol for using the groover that goes as follows:

  • • The first thing your guides do upon arriving at camp at the end of the day is set up the groover. The groover is always set up in a private space (often  with a beautiful view) that will give you peace and quiet.
  • • We will also set up other facilities to add comfort to the experience. This includes somewhere to wash your hands, toilet paper, hand disinfectant, etc.
  • • An important part of the system includes the bathroom key. This key is not a literal key, but an object you will take with you to the bathroom to signify the facilities are occupied. This is often located around the hand washing station.
  • • Once you arrive at the groover, you will notice there is also a yellow bucket. This bucket is for going #1 only. No TP or anything other than pee should ever go in this bucket!
  • • In the morning before heading out for the day, there will be a last call before securing the groover for that day’s adventure.

Like everything else included in Winding Waters River Expedition trips, the entire experience is designed for your enjoyment. We want you to have all the comforts of home while on the river so you can focus on enjoying the solitude and beauty of eastern Oregon. The groover and our camp system are designed to give you the best possible experience.

Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime?

At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we offer a number of trips on three of the Pacific Northwest’s premier rivers: the Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde rivers. These rivers are all wild and scenic rivers, and give you the feeling as if you and your expedition group are the only ones in the world.

Trips are all inclusive and include:

  • • Gourmet meals
  • • All necessary camping and fishing/rafting gear
  • • Transportation to and from the river
  • • Full service guides with decades of experience in the very river where your expedition is taking place

Questions about the groover or anything else with our expeditions? Let us know! We’re happy to answer any questions you have or explain what you should expect when on one of our expeditions.