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Leave No Trace Ethicsby MightyMousE by MightyMousE


The following discussion on LNT is geared towards dayhikers and is only a brief presentation of Leave No Trace. REMEMBER: LNT is a set of ethics, not rules . In some cases there is more than one way to do the right thing. Think of LNT practices as an educational tool you carry along on your trips. Everyone will incorporate LNT in their own way to meet their personal needs.

PLANNING AHEAD & PREPARING Planning ahead and being prepared is the backbone of LNT. When planning a hike:
  • Be aware of the terrain
    • Know the terrain you will encounter in relation to both you and your hiking partners' ability level. Staying within the groups range will make the trip enjoyable and successful.
  • Look at the time
    • Avoiding survival situations lessens your impact on the terrain. Desperation can encourage the selection of an "unethical" campsite, or the abandonment of personal gear.
  • Be prepared
    • Having the proper gear (clothing, boots, food, shelter, maps) will make your hike more comfortable and allow for more energy to do the correct thing in the backcountry.

Trampling of vegetation is the leading cause of impact in the backcountry. As our body weight compacts soil we remove oxygen & water which is necessary for root systems. Trampled vegetation shows signs of wear inviting more use, resulting in side trails and the enlargement of summits. Hear in Arizona we experience everything from desert terrain and rocky tops, to lush vegetation and alpine zones. So:
  • Stay on marked trails
  • Take rests on durable surfaces ( i.e. rock, sand)
If you need to step aside to let other hikers pass look for a durable surface to step on.

CARRY IN / CARRY OUT It's as simple as that! Remember:
  • Trash = all inorganic materials that are waste
  • Garbage = all organic or food matter waste
  • Pre-packaging food and quantity management will reduce a lot of extra trash and garbage on your trip. The most common snack on the trail is Gorp. Crumbs and raisins find their way to the ground during snack breaks. Not only is it an unwelcome site to hikers, but it becomes food for forest animals. There is a direct correlation between people routes and "nuisance animals" such as mice and squirrels.
  • We all know that food like apple cores, banana peels and peanut shells eventually decompose. The key is to remember what is native to the local ecology. Food on the side of the trail is both an eyesore and takes away the feeling of being removed from society. Keep in mind that some trails see an average of a 100 people a day. If every person left behind an apple core, what would it look like?
  • Human Waste
    • Human waste is a carrier of diseases
    • Common ways of transmitting disease are contact with feces or drinking contaminated water
    • The best way to avoid contamination is to remove the possibility of contact
    • The most aggressive way is to pack it out
    • Burring waste avoids water contamination and prevents animals and other humans from finding it. Be sure to follow the proper cat hole technique: a six to eight inch deep hole, located 200ft from any water source and away from a campsite. The area should look undisturbed after your visit.

What is the best way to enjoy wildlife?
  • Resist the urge to feed them - it disturbs their natural food cycles
  • Give them their space. Following animals pushes them further and further from their area and keeps them on the move, which uses precious energy.
  • Avoid animals during mating season and when they have young.

  • Day use group size should be limited to 25 people.
  • Spread out trail congestion: Hike in parties of 2 or 3. This will minimize the overwhelming "group factor" and allows for smoother flow on the trail
  • Be conscious of voice levels and their effect on others
  • Give other hikers and groups their space
  • Summits and viewpoints are gathering spots. Leave durable surfaces for hikers
  • Be conscientious of where you put your pack during a trail break. One pack in the middle of the trail is annoying, 2 an inconvenience, 5 or more and obstacle.
  • If necessary to use a cell phone, respect others who are trying to "get away" from society

This is a tough one. All though it is nice to have a "souvenir" of you hike, keep in mind that what you may find that is unique, may be to somebody else.

For Example: You are off trail to dig a cat hole and you find a set of antlers. Seeing them is a neat experience to you and reminds you that you are in the forest. That's exactly how the next person who sees them will feel.

2001-12-05 MightyMousE


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