If you enjoy traversing through the great, untamed wild or even wandering beyond the grassy boundaries of your suburban backyard, understanding the basic principles of outdoor ethics and our responsibilities to the land we galavant through is a must.
"Leave No Trace is a framework for making responsible decisions when we engage in the outdoors so that we can continue to have wild and healthy places to explore for generations to come. If we all take care of the places that we play, then there is no need for rules; but once we begin to leave our trash, go off trails, and do our dirty business anywhere we want – that’s when we begin to see areas closed to use and rules enforced. It’s the ethos of Freedom through Responsibility. It is an ethic, a belief, a state of mind, and a way of existing in the world where we are making positive decisions that create an environment we wish to live in." - Barefoot Theory
The 7 Principles Of Leave No Trace
1. Plan Ahead + Prepare
Do your research. Be it a day hike or thru-hike - take the time to familiarize yourself with trail maps, trail conditions, weather conditions, creating a packing list, brainstorming contingency plans if you get yourself into a pickle out there.
2. Travel + Camp on Durable Surfaces
The general rule of thumb with this one is if a trail or campsite exists - stick to it. Don't make your own. Don't cut through switchbacks, avoid setting up camp within 70 feet of a water source, don't even think about trampling over those sage brushes to avoid that puddle (you wear those hiking boots for a reason, don't be afraid to get dirty!). To reiterate, it should look like as if you were never there.
Side note: If you're interested in a chuckle or two, give You Did Not Sleep There a peek. It features shots from across Instagram of “illogical campsites” and staged photos of people in sleeping bags on steep cliffs, camper vans sitting in lakes, and tents in other bizarre locations.
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
Pack out all of your trash and any you find along the trail.
If there's a bathroom, use it. If not, make sure you take 70 big steps away from any water source, campsite, or trail - then dig your hole. Dig a hole at least 6-8" deep, when finished, fill your hole with the dirt you took out, disguise your spot, and make sure to pack out all of your TP and feminine hygiene products.
4. Leave What You Find
No need to read in between the lines with this one. Find something cool along the trail? Take out your phone or camera, snap a photo and put the damn thing back. If it's cool enough to take home, then it's cool enough for someone else to enjoy. Sharing is caring, ya'll.
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
If there is a designated fire pit and no fire ban in effect, then whip out those kielbasas and smores and feel free to go ham. Unless otherwise specified, gather scraps from already dead and downed trees. Keep your fires small and in control and don't use them as your personal trash receptacle.
If open fires are not permitted, use an ultra-lightweight stove to cook your food and boil your water.
6. Respect Wildlife
This is their home first and foremost.
Observe Yogi and other animals from a safe distance. Never feed the wildlife, not even the squirrels - it leads to a domino effect of co-dependency and negative interactions with the human population. Store your food and trash responsibly, especially in bear country.
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Silence is golden. Don't bring your Beats Pill onto the trail - no one wants to hear your shitty rap or folk music. Leave the drones at home. Keep conversations at a respectable noise level. Keep your eyes glued to the trail, not your phone.
Ascent. Has. Right. Of. Way.
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