A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about some proper etiquette to follow when it comes to taking care of human waste when in the backcountry. I mentioned “Leave No Trace” ethics, but I figured that needed a little elaboration. So here goes (courtesy of the Center for Outdoor Ethics, plus some additions by me):
Human waste: For those who have the stomach for it, pack out human waste and toilet paper in a sealable plastic bag. For those too grossed out by that (that includes me), dig a 6-to-8-inch-deep cathole 200 feet from a water source, campsite or trail, bury it and mark it with a dead twig.
Food: Store it in some sort of container that will keep it away from animals. Do not feed animals human food. Any trash associated with food or cooking should be sealed during the trip and packed out.
Campfires: Minimize campfire impact. Make small fires in established fire areas, like an outdoor grill or a fire ring. If you’re in a place that doesn’t have these, or in a place where fires are discouraged, use some other method of heating, cooking and lighting. Don’t make new fire rings; use ones that are already built.
Wildlife encounters: Enjoy these encounters from a distance. Don’t get to close to wild animals if you can help it.
Do unto others: Remember that when your trip is over, others may visit the place where you just left. Leave the wild places in a way that you want to see others leave it for you.
Wastewater: Treat it like you would any other waste. Dishwater, water used for brushing your teeth, water that gets mixed with soaps and lotions — none of this should be within 200 feet of a water source, like a stream or a lake.
Group sizes: Be careful to limit your group’s size when going into the backcountry. If a place puts a limit of 10 people in a group, follow that. Fewer people make a smaller impact.
Hiking impact: Stay on established trails. Otherwise walk and camp in areas where you’re on rock or places where there’s coverage (dead leaves, pine needles, etc.). This will help limit soil erosion. When in sensitive areas, walk in a single-file line and follow each others’ footsteps.
Burning trash: Don’t do it.
I’ll confess to not always following these rules. And I’ll also promise to do better in the future. There’s a good chance that if people going out into the countryside who follow Leave No Trace ethics, those wild places will be better preserved.
My question: Do you follow Leave No Trace principles? Why or why not? Give me a shout with your answers.
There’s a lot more detail than what I’ve written here. For more info, check out this Web site: http://www.lnt.org/index.php
Side note: Episode 2 of “Alone in the Wild” airs tonight. Last week was pretty good. It will be interesting to see how time alone and not eating much affects Ed Wardle. Like last week, I’ll watch it and write about it. Feel free to share your thoughts.