One thing that ruins any moment while backpacking, is finding somebody’s discarded Snickers wrapper or initials carved into a tree. Leave no Trace is something that all good backpackers and outdoorsmen practice almost religiously. Here are the 7 Principles of LNT:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare – bring food with the least amount packaging possible. Make sure to bring the right amount of food for the amount of people in your group. If you pack to much, don’t be the a-hole who buries their food. Suck it up, and eat whats left. If you are about to explode, you have to pack it out. Bring a map and compass and know the route ahead of time to avoid trail busting.
- Camp and Travel on Durable Surfaces – durable surfaces include rock, snow, sand, dead or dry grasses. Protect riparian ecosystems by staying at least 200 yards away from lakes, rivers, streams, etc.
- Dispose of Waste Properly – ‘pack it in pack it out’ is one of the many phrases backpackers live by. ‘Take only pictures and leave only footprints’ is another one. Simply put, make it seem as if you were never there. For using the restroom, see the blog post How to Shit in the Woods. Wash dishes 200 yards away from water using biodegradable soaps.
- Leave What You Find – aside from it being a crime in National Parks to remove any object without a permit, taking wildlife out of the wild is just plain wrong. Don’t do it.
- Minimize Campfire Impacts – if you are allowed to have campfires, (not likely right now in the Tinderbox State), build them away from overhanging branches and limbs, and scatter the ashes. Replace the rocks used to make a ring, and for God’s sake don’t burn the forest down.
- Respect Wildlife – we are in their home. And most animals will protect it. Moose are known to charge and be violent, especially when a mother is around its young. Hang your bear bag properly. Learn how at http://www.backpacker.com/skills-how-to-hang-a-bear-bag/slideshows/162.
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors – we all seek different things in the mountains, but for most of us, we search for solitude and silence. Respect other’s right to a quiet wilderness by not playing music or screaming your head off. Always remember that the hiker coming downhill must yield the right of way to the hiker coming uphill. I’ve gotten dates because girls were so impressed I knew the rule. Use it.