Anytime we hike or camp, we have an effect on our environment. The goal is to minimize negative impacts. If we damage the trail, we might affect the next person’s trip or destroy the homes of wild animals. Some actions that may seem benign to us at the time may be quite disastrous—polluting the drinking water of a community, causing flooding by erosion, or destroying homes and forest by fire.
1.Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites [ed.: don’t cause erosion by taking shortcuts!]. Those shortcuts that create new trails through the dirt will become channels for water during the winter.
2.Pack it in, pack it out. After use, inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter. [ed.: Orange peels can last 6 months, bananas 12 months.]
3.Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. There is little to no chance that these items will decompose before they are discovered by animals or other humans. There are far too many people on our trails and in our wildlands for these products to remain undisturbed and unnoticed.
4.Deposit solid human waste* in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet (about 70 human paces) from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished. Note: leaving your poop under a rock near your campsite is not ok! Not only may it be a health hazard, but the next person to move the rock—to build a campfire pit, for repairing a trail—will not appreciate the mound of feces that you left behind. Bury it!
*In some areas, there may be regulations required that human waste be carried out—for example, on Mt. Whitney or Denali, or in various river rafting areas.
Leave No Trace…
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics’ website tells us that the principals they give are modified or revisited from time to time as researchers gain new insights into protecting our outdoors. The current seven LNT Principles are: Plan and Prepare; Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces; Dispose of Waste Properly; Leave What You Find; Minimize Campfire Impacts; Respect Wildlife, Be Considerate of Other Visitors.Click here for more info.