Many things may come to mind when you think about an outhouse...
…the old days before indoor plumbing … camping at an old campground …“Wow, my grandparents used to have one at the cabin!” or maybe... … the smell Well for us here at Caribou Lodge, we use an outhouse every day. And all of those thoughts are valid, especially concerning the smell... so that's one of the main things I want to talk about.
We maintain our outhouses every week by pouring stove ash, wood chips, and eco-friendly RV toilet treatment into the holes. We also clean the actual outhouse buildings early every morning before most guests are awake. If you ever use one of our outhouses first thing in the morning, just know that the fresh lemon smell of Clorox is there because someone was up early making sure that it was far cleaner than any public restroom you've ever used. People often ask if we have considered composting toilets. We have opted out of using these for a few simple reasons.
1 - Our guest cabins were not originally designed in the 1950's
with extra space for a private bathroom. 2 - We don't want to teach every guest how to properly use one, and then have to clean it out after the guest leaves. 3 - We would have to spend quite a bit of money flying in all the composting wood chips and peet moss that are used in composting toilets.
We also are frequently asked about the possibility of flushing toilets and a septic system...
Here's our simple answer:
The thought of digging a hole by hand that is large enough to make a homemade log crib/septic tank is enough to make my back hurt. Along with that, there is the simple fact that we are so close to a beautiful, pristine lake, and we do not want to chance contamination through ground water. Lastly, we live on the tundra which is frozen 7 months out of the year. All septic pipe used would need to be above-ground and heated electrically, which is a huge obstacle as we have no constant source of electricity.
So I guess that's why we believe that the easiest, cleanest, and most eco-conscious way to have guests use a toilet is to keep using the outhouses that were built years ago. One was built in the late 1950's, and the other was added in the early 1990's.
But just because it's an old, rustic, back-woods outhouse doesn't mean it can't look nice inside! We remodeled both outhouses in 2018 so the inside doesn't look quite like the one at grandma's old cabin. We try our best to keep them looking good. You know... for an outhouse.