From dust to tribe . . .

Dust and Tribe (D&T) is the experience of growth through adventure.

Our fall and spring signature excursions are annual opportunities for Muslim men and women to push through the boundaries of supposed mental and physical limits into a new awareness of what we can be when we support one another.

It is where we discover what we are (dust) and what we become together (tribe).

Spring 2016: D&T Grrrl!

On April 22nd, fifteen women left for three days and two nights camped out on an island two-hours off the California coast. This blog is their story!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Other Essentials

Last week we talked about keeping warm with layered clothing and a nice sleeping setup. That's pretty critical. And then we talked about wetsuits, which is also really about keeping warm. But there's lots of exposure on an island. In addition to the cool mornings and evenings, you also want to think about wind, water, and sun.

If you don't already have one, consider a water-repellent windbreaker, or even an unlined shell.


Something like that will keep the spray off you and cut the wind-chill down a bit. And you want to protect your skin and eyes, too. Bring your sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat with a wide brim that's either really snug or has some ties to keep it on your head.

You'll also want something to carry your water in, a canteen or sport's bottle or hydration pack. And then you're golden.

At least until you have to go potty or your cycle starts. Which can happen (the first day of your trip is a full moon).

Not saying that's you or anything.

But before we get too deep into the management of inconvenient bodily functions in remote wilderness settings, I'd like to lay out a few qualifications. 2016 marks my 20th year as a registered nurse. I have four daughters. I know how to braid my own hair.

The suggestions I offer have been used with great success by present and former members of my household. If you have other suggestions, I double-dog dare you to offer them up in the comments section below.

While your campsite is proximate to a pit toilet and a water source, you will not always be at your campsite, unless you want to be totally lame. You might be on the other side of the island when nature calls. And this is pristine wilderness, so you will be expected to pack out all of your trash. Taking a little time to learn about how to handle your business in the great outdoors is a good use of your time. I'm not joking.

Managing #1

While not absolutely necessary, you might want to get one of these:

There are other brands, different designs, and different colors (I personally think the lavender is lovely). But the idea is the same. Flow is directed away from you in a manageable and predictable way. I actually do have partial experience with this very item. We were out driving around somewhere when one of my daughters (she might have been around four or five at the time) really had to go. We pulled over, got this little device into position and it was pretty rad, to tell the truth. When you get it, try it out in the shower a few times. With sufficient mastery, you might even be tempted to write your name in the sand. Avoid temptation.

You can also get a cute little carrying case for it, and I think you should.

Managing #2

People freak out about this. Don't. Once you've properly fertilized the earth, it's hard to do it any other way. You might have to be housebroken again. It's that good.

You can put together a little kit. Here's what goes in mine:

1) a cathole trowel like this:

It's for digging your hole. And it's graduated so that you can make sure your hole is at least six inches deep. That's like some wilderness code, I guess.

2) several sheets of toilet paper

3) some hand sanitizer (I don't like the alcohol-based stuff and this works really, really good):

I put all of that, along with an extra empty one-gallon resealable bag, into another one-gallon resealable bag. That's my kit.

When it's time for action, I grab my kit and my canteen. I find my spot, dig my hole, and get ready to feel the breeze. Once finished, I bury my business, stash any dirty toilet paper into my extra resealable bag, seal that shizz up tight, wash and sanitize my hands, throw everything back into my kit and I'm done.

This little graphic might help you to further refine your technique:

Managing #3

I don't have a #3, but that's because I'm a man. I've been around enough active women to pick up a few tricks, though. OK. Maybe one trick, but it can work really, really good. In fact, it can be an absolute game-changer. Let me introduce you to the Diva Cup:


The packaging has flowers and that little gold medal, which is all you really need to know. But if you're all like Debbie-doubting me, click this link and read the thousands of reviews. Remember- you need to pack out all of your garbage. That alone might be incentive to try this thing out. I don't have much more to say, but if this contraption is at all interesting to you, I suggest you try the Diva Cup well in advance of your trip. There is a learning curve, but it's all awesome after that.

Let me know how it goes!

Or not.


  1. "There is a learning curve, but it's all awesome after that."
    You speaking from experience? :P

    1. Well, not direct experience, if that's what you're getting at.

      But no man (or woman!) is an island! The gales howl far off at sea and we play in the waves on shore.

      It's all connected, sugar plum!

  2. Diaper wipes should be good for cleaning too? Or is there a difference between those and hand sanitizers. How big should our water canteens be? O apologize if there are silly questions

    1. Wet-wipes are great! Just remember- you have to pack out all of your garbage. So if you have a way of keeping all of those dirty wipes together, they'll work just fine, insha Allah.

      Keeping 2 liters of water on you is my recommendation. You can get a nice day-pack that has a 2 liter hydration-bladder, for example. Or a couple of one-liter canteens. They have 2-liter ones, but I think they're bulky.

      These are great questions! Thanks so much for asking!

  3. The bathroom business is what I'm most worried about :( this helps some. JAK

    1. That's true for a lot of people, Sister Syma.

      I've had a couple of men that came very close to backing out of trips for these very reasons, and others that probably did (but gave other excuses as to why they weren't coming).

      That's really the point of a post like this. Our way is to put our business on the table so we can sort it out, insha Allah.

      We all have to work through our hangups. Some folks will hold back on eating and drinking, or maybe they'll avoid certain kinds of foods to minimize their elimination needs. Your health should remain a priority whatever your strategy.

      A really positive way to frame this: it's an opportunity to draw nearer to the the experiences of Muslims in earlier times, particularly those on merchant or martial campaigns. It's a great way to push past some of the obsessive toileting and purification rites that sometimes catch us up. It's a way to bring your Islamic studies into the real world where you'll almost be forced to make some uncomfortable concessions. And there is so much learning in that, insha Allah.

      You've got some backcountry veterans that will be out there with you to walk you through the fine points. It's all part of the experience!