How We "Leave No Trace"
We love the outdoors and all the joy that it brings us. We love spending time outside and exploring far from where our car can take us. We also respect the land and want to minimize the impact that we have upon it. In order to enjoy these beautiful places for years to come, this respect is critical. Joshua Tree National Park recently started an awesome campaign called "Explore Responsibly" and we are proud to join them in respecting the beautiful places we enjoy.
We're hoping that you have heard of the “Leave No Trace” ideas and principles. We strive to always put the ideas into practice. Here’s a list of the seven principles, as well as what we do to follow each one.
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Research where you are going - know the rules about fires and permits, know where the trails are and where they go.
- Pack appropriately – repack food so that you minimize the trash you’ll have later, be sure to have supplies that you need.
- Have a backup plan – what if you can’t camp at a designated site, what if the weather turns nasty.
- Cairns are cool, but try using a map and compass instead of leaving a statue behind.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- In popular areas, stick to trails and campsites that are pre-existing and designated – don’t create new trails or flatten new spots with your tent.
- If you are in untouched backcountry, stick to durable surfaces such as gravel or dirt. Disperse your usage so you aren’t creating a new campsite or trail.
- Do not camp near water sources (get at least 200 feet away) that may be life sustaining for wildlife.
- Hike in a single file line, to avoid trampling small plants or widening the trail with your steps.
- When you leave, it should look like you were never there!
Dispose of Waste Properly
- “Pack it in, pack it out” – if it goes into the wilderness with you, it should come right back out to your car with you – this includes trash, scraps, human waste, and even dirty water
- A tip for going #2 – make sure you poo far from water, trails, campsites. Dig a hole at least 6 inches deep (you packed a small shovel, right?!), do your business, then bury and disguise it. Don’t bury your toilet paper or any other paper product, instead paper goes in the spare baggy you packed for waste. (Also, be aware of where you are going, some places have rules about packing out the poo, too!) If you need to pee, follow the same rules – dig, bury, pack out waste paper.
- Dirty water – if you have to wash yourself or your dishes, use biodegradeable soap or just rinse with water. Scatter your strained dirty water. Be sure food scraps or large chunks are removed before dumping.
Leave What You Find
- This is an easy one – don’t pack out souvenirs. Rocks and all sorts of goodies in the wilderness are cool and you might want to stick them in your pocket. Don’t. Leave the beauty there for the next hiker to enjoy!
- This applies to wildflowers, too - leave them alive. Don't trample, stay on trails.
- If it’s stunning and you can’t resist, just take a photo. And leave the beautiful thing you found, where you found it!
- Don’t touch historical artifacts or structures. Don’t trace petroglyphs with your fingers. Hands off! And definitely DO NOT create your own with graffiti.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Burn in designated fire pits. Buy your wood locally. Don’t scavenge for things to burn unless allowed – research this ahead of time.
- Keep fires small and easily contained – especially in dry, drought lands like California.
- Don’t throw cans, bottles or trash in the fire – they don’t burn, they stay in the pit long after your fire is done.
- Put your fire out completely – burn the fire to ash, then extinguish with water.
- The best way to minimize fire impact is to use a camp stove – they come in tiny backpacking sizes to large multi-burner styles, and they leave no trace.
- Don’t feed the bears and coyotes. Or any other cute, scary, or annoying wildlife. It teaches them to be dependent on humans, and that’s bad for them and for us.
- Enjoy the wildlife you see from a safe distance. Give them space, so you stay safe, and so they stay smart. Don’t follow them or approach them.
- Be sure to pack your food smartly, and keep it stored safely. Use a bear box/locker, if available. If not, use a bear can and keep it far from where you are sleeping.
- Contain your trash and dispose of it where allowed – in dumpsters or taken out in the trunk of your car.
- Be aware of your pets, don’t let them chase other animals, use the same principles with their waste. Be sure to know the rules of having your animal along with you, and follow them closely, they are for their protection and safety.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- Don’t be loud, annoying neighbors to humans or animals. Most people escape to the wilderness to enjoy nature. Let the sounds of nature be the only noise you hear!
- Be courteous, be respectful, and enjoy yourself!
Those are the principles – all of which are easy to put into practice. While these rules are not “black and white” at times, the best application of Leave No Trace is to always be aware of how you can minimize your impact on the space you are exploring. Our outdoor lands are getting more visitors than ever before, and that’s great, but we all need to work together to minimize the impact our human presence has on these natural places. If we all leave places better than we find them, the world will be a beautiful place!