Monday, January 29, 2018

How to Leave No Trace

This is not my picture.
I am sharing this word for word because I think it’s important. Not just on the Pacific Crest Trail but wherever you are. This past year I have seen so much litter along the trails I hiked. I often found gear or clothing items left behind. On one of my hikes with a friend I was surprised when she thought it was acceptable to pee right near a water source and that started a whole conversation about other ways to leave no trace that she had never heard of. This is for anyone who maybe isn’t aware  and honestly doesn’t know what they can do to help keep our land undisturbed. This is directly from the PAcific Crest Trail Association.

“Right now make the decision to travel lightly on the land and practice Leave No Trace principles. You can protect the environment, wildlife and the experience of others.” 

Top 5 Leave No Trace Focus Areas for the PCT in 2018

Don’t start a wildfire. Campfires are banned in nearly all of Southern California. And, they’re likely to be banned elsewhere from the middle of the summer to the end of the trail season. This is issue #1 for us. If it’s legal and appropriate to have a fire, ALWAYS drown it with water when you leave it.  Keep it small. Did not build new fire rings or have a fire in a location that has not previously had one. It’s imperative that you fully extinguish your campfires before you go to bed. Many forest fires have been started by backpacker’s campfires. Your fire must be doused with water and cold to the touch before you leave it unattended. You may be held liable for the cost of fighting a fire that you started. It is trail users’ responsibility to get up to date fire restrictions for the area of the PCT they are traveling through. It is imperative that trail users abide by these current restrictions to reduce the potential for wildfire.”

“Don’t be disgusting when going poop. Go poop far, far away from campsites, water sources and the trail. Carry out your toilet paper. If you only walk a short distance away from camp, a steam or the trail - or if you lazily dig a shallow hole - that’s a problem. Do this work properly to protect the trail and the experience it provides. We hear a lot of complaints about this.”
“Dispose of waste a minimum of 200 feet from water sources, campsites and the trail. Bury waste in soil at least 6 inches deep.
Do not just cover waste with a rock!
Pee on the ground rather than plants.

When choosing a place to sleep, find an existing and appropriate campsite. You’ll get to see a lot of camp spots that are visible from and far too close the the PCT or water. Go further. There are many wonderful existing sites further away from the trail.

Protect water quality by never washing yourself, your clothing or your dishes in springs, lakes and streams. Thousands of people will drink from these places after you leave. Your sweat, sunscreen, insect repellant, and the germs you carry are bad for everyone else. They’re also bad for the environment. Carry water in a pot or dromedary bag away from the water source to clean yourself. Stay away from fragile riparian areas. Backpackers are contributing to the mass die off of amphibians and other aquatic life.”

Be considerate and low impact with your relationships with others. Our friends in trail towns have been helping the PCTers for decades. It’s their home and you are their guest. Give more than you expect to receive. Be an ambassador for the trail. In the backcountry, respect other people by giving them space. Take your breaks off the trail and don’t assume everyone is happy to share their tent spot. Use your smartphone privately. Use headphones instead of speakers. Take calls and text messages away from others.”

There are more Leave No Trace principles. Please take the time to learn them even if you never plan to hike the PCT. These principles can be used anywhere. If you have any questions (even if you think they are silly) please ask me anyway. You can leave a comment below and I will get back to you. If you want to know more about LNT leave me a comment and I will find a few links or videos to watch. This is for our future! We need to preserve these amazing wild spaces for our grandkids. Thank you for taking the time to read and learn about this, it is important to me.

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