Pack In, Pack Out

 

We’ve all been taught not to litter. At least in the United States there have been several major public initiatives to counter the onslaught of littering along road ways. And while many folks will never litter, there are some who’s lack of respect for their world and fellow residents causes them to just not give a damn and throw trash all over the place.

In 2009 there were over 51 billion pieces of trash thrown beside US byways. We spent nearly $11.5 billion in clean up initiatives. If you’d like the gory details, check out the 2009 National Visible Litter Survey… I’ve not taken the time to look for more current statistics, but you can imagine they’ve grown.

While littering along roads is bad, it’s contained geographically enough for society to at least attempt a clean up. The impact that littering would have on America’s back country, parks, and wildlife would be far greater.

If you’ve been involved with experienced campers or hikers you’re probably familiar with the concept of Leave No Trace, or at the least the idea of Pack It In, Pack It Out. These concepts became necessary during the post World War II era.

Prior to WWII American the outdoors man focused on woodsman ship and conservation. We didn’t have access to the plethora of man-made materials that we do today. Packed lunches were wrapped in paper, packs were made of cloth or leathers which would decompose somewhat naturally if left on the land, and anything else was constructed from the resources found in nature.

After the war ended and the strange reintegration of society had finally completed, families became one again, expanded most often, and “benefited” from the excess materials produced by the war time manufacturing machine. Nylon, Rayon and other man-made materials began appearing in consumer products. Plastics soon eased the work load of housewives everywhere packing lunches and weekend pick-nicks.

$1,000 Littering FineAmericans also began rediscovering an affinity for the outdoors. But unlike their fathers, these Americans trudged out into the wild bringing the trappings of the modern age. Items so foreign to the natural world that nature literally doesn’t know what to do with them.

The onslaught of litter that followed raised the ire of many a conservationist. Soon individuals began teaching new principles of conservation. The idea was simple, since the material being brought in couldn’t be handled by nature, you must carry out what you brought in.

My first introduction to the idea of pack in, pack out, was during my teen years as I started mountain biking. The MTB community is incredibly conservation minded. It appeared to me, at the time thinking in very black and white, to be a strange juxtaposition. Here were folks bringing destructive bicycles into nature, riding them at great speed on trails sometimes barely wide enough to walk down, yet if you were seen littering you’d vary likely be taunted and driven out of the woods by pure peer pressure.

What I leaned from that community of bikers was, nature is meant to be enjoyed but fearlessly protected. Yes the bikes would erode the trails fast, but the bikers would rebuild the trails. Yes the temptation was there to take your bike off through the woods, off the trails, but you just didn’t; you stayed on the trails to protect those inviting woods. And you sure as hell packed out everything you brought in, period.

Today, the need to pack out what we pack in is still important, perhaps more so than ever before. Fortunately, there are concerted education efforts on going by many organizations which teach adults and children alike how to enjoy nature while keeping it safe.

The Leave No Trace campaign, is probably the best known public outreach offering guidance and courses on conservation and principles for leaving a light foot print on nature.

Their seven principles are what I try to follow and think you should as well.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
  • In popular areas:
  • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
  • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
  • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
  • In pristine areas:
  • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
  • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

– See more at: http://lnt.org/learn/7-principles#sthash.l4cemn0r.dpuf

The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org

Camping Etiquette: Camping with Friends

by Philip Welles about 1957

by Philip Welles about 1957

Have you ever been camping with someone who ignored all rules of common decency and shirked all responsibility? Perhaps that person rusted your cast iron skillet or neglected to clean up their trash at the end of the trip.

Short of vowing never to camp with that person again, there is little you can do to prevent others from taking advantage of you. However, you can make sure you are not the one that others grumble about after you go to bed each night by ensuring you obey the following etiquette rules for camping with others:

Divide the responsibilities in advance

Divide the responsibilities of camping before you go. Assign tasks to each camper, such as who is in charge of which meal, who will bring which tools and equipment, and who will be responsible for bringing activities. Advanced planning will help prevent arguments and relationship strains. When everyone has a plan, the time together is more enjoyable for all.

Assign daily chores

Certain tasks, like disposing of trash, cooking meals, gathering wood, building a fire, and cleaning up after meals occur every day. Assign a few tasks to each person per day. Make sure the same person is not stuck with the same job each day. No one wants to have to clean up the dishes after every meal.

Establish a campsite schedule and boundaries

Find out what each person expects from the trip. Some campers may want to arise early and get started with the day. Others may wish to enjoy a leisurely-paced morning before major activities occur. Set up boundaries for sleeping, a loose schedule outline, and a daily quiet time, if necessary.

Show respect to other campers

When you share a space with other campers, it is important to respect their personal space and equipment. Never use someone else’s tools, equipment, or food without asking. Do not enter other’s tents or personal areas. This will prevent crowding and allow everyone to experience downtime, if they wish.

Maintain a clean campsite

In addition to following basic campsite rules and regulations, keep your campsite clean. Dispose of trash immediately, and respect the plants and wildlife surrounding your campsite. Show your fellow campers respect by keeping your equipment and space tidy throughout the trip.

Following these basic camping etiquette rules will go a long way toward making your camping experience enjoyable for everyone.

Have you ever camped with a disrespectful camper? How did you deal with the experience?

Camping Etiquette 101

By Rick McCharles

photo by Rick McCharles

There is more to camping than simply packing up some gear and building a fire in the country. Most campgrounds have both written and non-written rules and regulations that make camping more fun for everyone. Make sure you follow these basic camping rules next time you head into the wilderness!

Obey ground rules

This is the first rule of camping etiquette. If your established campground has official rules, make sure you follow them. Many sites have rules about quiet hours, trash and waste disposal, permitted activities, pet control, and more. Always follow these rules above all.

Think like a Boy Scout

One of the goals of the Boy Scouts is to leave an area cleaner than how they found it. This should be your camping policy as well. Try to improve every campsite you visit by cleaning up trash and leaving wood for the next visitors.

 Protect the water

A campground water source is important. Never dump any chemicals or waste products into the water, and if you use the water for bathing or cleaning, only use bio-degradable cleaners to keep water and wildlife healthy.

 Dispose of trash properly

Nothing is uglier than bits of trash strewn all over a campsite. Secure all trash carefully away from pets, wild animals, and wind. Take all non bio-degradable trash with you, or dispose of it into designated receptacles. Bury all other trash several inches below the ground, unless otherwise specified by campground rules.

 Keep fires safe

Fire can spread faster than many people realize, especially during dry weather. It is extremely important to follow fire safety rules to avoid creating wildfires. Always fence in your fire with rocks. Remove all grass and other flammable materials within a 12 to 24-inch diameter around the perimeter of the fire. Never leave a fire unattended, even at night. Ensure the fire is extinguished when you leave by dousing it with water and spreading the coals.

 Respect the environment

Leave as little impact on the campsite as possible when you camp. Try not to disturb nature or the surrounding wildlife. Leave plants and animals alone, and if you bring your own pet, keep it on a leash to protect the surrounding wildlife.

If you follow these basic camping rules, you will show respect for the campsite, environment, and yourself. Camping is an enjoyable activity for many, and following the rules makes it more enjoyable for everyone involved.

What are your favorite camping etiquette tips?

Hiking Etiquette

hiking-moyan-brennNothing is as invigorating as a brisk hike in the outdoor air. Hiking is an excellent way to view nature up close, exercise your muscles, and enjoy the beauty and scenery around you. Nothing ruins a good hike faster than someone who doesn’t follow appropriate hiking etiquette. If you are new to hiking, you may be unaware of some of the unwritten rules. However, even old hiking pros can still benefit from a refresher course in manners now and then!

Follow these basic hiking rules and you will maximize the safety and enjoyment of everyone during your hike:

Stick to the trail

Sticking to the trail is the first rule of a safe hiking experience. Trails are used for a reason, usually because they are the safest way to travel through a particular area. Going off-trail is not only dangerous, but it could harm the surrounding wildlife or plant ecosystem.

Share the trail

Chances are, you will encounter a fellow traveler at least once during your hike. Generally, slower travelers stick to the right and passing is done on the left, just like on the road. Bikers yield to hikers, horses, and motorized vehicles. Hikers yield to motorized vehicles and horses. Downhill travelers allow uphill travelers the right of way.

Keep things clean

Just like the Boy Scouts, you should always try to leave a trail cleaner than you found it. Always dispose of trash properly, and if you see trash littering the trail, pick it up and dispose of it. If you must urinate during your hike, take a few steps away from the trail to complete your business. Use biodegradable cleaning products, if possible.

Respect the atmosphere

Most people hike to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. Respect this desire by keeping loud chatter and activity to a minimum. Rowdiness can not only disturb fellow hikers, but it will also disturb the surrounding wildlife.

Know and follow regulations

Before starting on any hike, make sure you know the regulations for that particular trail. Rules for building fires, eating, disposing of waste, and other trail regulations vary from trail-to-trail. Make sure you know the rules for your trail to avoid causing unnecessary and undesired impact on the area.

Chat with others

Greet others briefly, when you pass them on the trail. This is polite, and it can also act as a safety measure. Getting to know others on the trail can help prevent accidents and increases the safety of all involved.

 

What etiquette rules are important to you during hikes?