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351 Hiking Skills - Leave No Trace 2011-02-21

Snowmass Lake

The Leave No Trace Program is designed to instruct and encourage outdoor ethics for all users. There are seven main principles:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of other visitors.

Leave No Trace will be the topics for the next seven week's Hiking Skills' Mondays. Over the past months we have covered Hiking Skills (or how to walk in the woods), Hiking Skills - the Essentials, and Hiking Skills the Missing Essentials. Now continuing with a new series, we will move to Leave No Trace outdoor ethics.

At Snowmass Lake a couple of summers ago, Amy and I arrived at the lake in a cold rain. There were supposed to be designated campsites at the Lake; but we soon saw that everyone was camping everywhere. Tents were set up just a few feet from the Lake - it looked like someone was actually fishing from inside one of the tents! The whole area was trampled. Campfires were prohibited near the Lake and the rule was plainly signed at both the trailhead and the Lake; but there were fires and fire rings everywhere. We passed huge inexperienced groups backpacking into the area. We could only imagine their impact. The misuse to the area was the worst we saw all summer. We plainly saw that it was going to take some form of divine intervention to exercise the destruction from the beautiful lake's shores.

As users of the outdoors we love the land. Lakes such as Snowmass Lake are exceptional recreational spots. The lakes teem with beauty; but there shores show man's extreme impatc. In order to return the lake to it's former pristine beauty, camping will probably have to be eliminated, much in the same way as it has been done in other popular areas such as Chicago Basin. Eliminating camping is a drastic step by the land managers. The campers and other users will complain of the restrictions; but it was the users who caused (or will cause) the closures. By practicing Leave No Trace ethics users can learn to minimize their impact on the environment.

The Leave No Trace Program standardized outdoor ethics much in the same way the Red Cross gave us First Aid or the American Heart Association gave us CPR. In covering the accepted principles we will be touching on the key points and explaining the ideas with workable solutions.

Join us for the weeks to come.

Happy Leave No Trace Trails

Leave No Trace


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