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

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?

 

MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter

I’m doing some research on micro filters in preparation for some hiking / camping trips planed for 2013. If funds allow, the MSR® MiniWorks® EX is one I intended to pickup and field test — I’ll update this post with my experiences. In the mean time, here are some reviews that have convinced me this model is one to try. If you’ve used the MiniWorks EX, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Made in the USAThe founders of Cascade Designs® setup shop in 1972 to produce Therm-A-Rest® sleeping pads. By 1991 they had released the first MSR® water filter, the WaterWorks®. Today we’re looking at the WaterWorks grandkid, the MiniWorks® EX Microfilter.

Specs

Weight 1 lb / 456 g
Width 2.75 in / 7 cm
Length 7.5 in / 19 cm
Filter media Ceramic Plus Carbon
Filter pore size 0.2 microns
Flow (L/min) 1 liters per min
Flow (strokes per liter) 85
Cartridge life ~2000 liters
Cartridge replacement indicator Yes

More Info

Reviews

Worth every penny!

November 8, 2009 By R. Zamudio from Amazon.com

[editor’s note: Corrected some spelling errors. Possibly the best review I’ve ever seen on Amazon and a major factor in my decision to try this filter.]

I researched filtration systems for almost a month before settling on the MSR miniworks. I figured I could just go pick one up at the local Cabela’s or REI, but BOTH retail stores were sold out of these, while there was still a good supply of the other MSR and Katadyn filter systems on the shelf. I took this as a sign that this is the filter to have and ordered it from Amazon, and it has been worth every penny. Read on….

 

MSR MiniWorks EX

 

In Camp:
The filter is very simple to use and has a good output-per-pump ratio. You never really feel like you are doing more work than you should for the amount of water you are pushing through, especially if you take into account the fact that every pump is worth about one gulp of nasty water that you WON’T have to drink. If you do see a diminished output, simply unscrew the filter housing and give the element a light scrubbing. We were taking water from a brown lake that is loaded with tannins and we would get about 2 liters through (about 2 full-size nalgene bottles worth) before we noticed the filter could use a cleaning. Tannin-loaded water is supposedly some of the worst for clogging these ceramic filters, so if you have cleaner water sources at your site than we do, your element-cleaning cycles should be farther apart. The water came out crystal-clear and almost tasteless. It didn’t taste like Dasani bottled water, but it definitely didn’t taste like tea-colored lake water either. Pretty much neutral. More importantly, it tasted CLEAN and nobody got sick. Also, the MSR Miniworks requires no chemical additives but still claims to filter everything but viruses. The chance of contracting a waterborne virus from a U.S. lake or stream (think Polio, Hep-A, SARS, and a few others which you have probably had vaccinations for) is far lower than getting sick from bacteria or parasites. If this still bothers you, you can still boil your clear, clean-tasting water just to be sure.

Out of Camp:
The maintenance on this filter is very simple. The unit breaks down into 4 major parts, and the wrist pins on the pump assembly are quick-release squeeze-and-push types. You can literally have this thing stripped down and cleaned completely in about 5 minutes, and that includes the sterilization of the filter element. A couple dabs of silicone grease or chap stick is all you need to lube it up when you are reassembling the unit.

The Hidden Bonus:
$80 may seem like a lot for a water filter, but the MSR miniworks pays you back exponentially…
Prior to buying a filtration system, everyone in our backpacking party hauled their own water needed for the entire trip. We would calculate what we needed for hydration and cooking each day, plus a bit more just in case, and we strictly stuck to these rations. We would have enough water, but never enough to truly quench one’s thirst. Having this filter in our party allowed us to drop about 15 lbs carried, per person! Plus, we didn’t have to pack out a bunch of empty water bottles anymore. One filter supports 4 of us and we now drink as much as we want. When you think about how important hydration is to your body’s systems (Read Cody Lundin’s “98.6 Degrees” book and you will know more about the subject than you ever wanted to), shelling out $80 to have clean, safe water on-demand anywhere you can find a water source is a small price to pay.

Tips:
-Put a coffee filter over the hose inlet and secure it with a twist-tie, rubber band, or fishing line. This will make your MSR filter pump more efficiently for longer without as-frequent element cleaning. Every time you clean the element, you are scrubbing away some of the element’s overall diameter. When it gets too thin, you have to get a new element. Fewer cleaning cycles = prolonged filter life and more money remains in your pocket. Filter element, $40. Coffee filter, 3 to 4 cents.

-Bring a spare filter element if you are going on an extended trip or are going to be absolutely dependent on this filter for your drinking water while you are out! Meaning: hiking back to your vehicle and driving like a madman to the nearest 7-11 for a drink before you go into a coma from dehydration is not going to be an option! The word is, these ceramic elements are fragile. Finding this out at the wrong time and being caught without a spare would be a very bad thing. If you spent the cash for the filter and other people in your party use it, have them pony up the $40 and buy the spare element for you. It’s only fair…. right?

-USE A NALGENE BOTTLE WITH THIS UNIT (or other similar one that will attach to the adapter). The motion created while you are pumping is far too violent for precision-aiming the output stream into any loose container, except for a bucket. You can also attach another length of rubber hose to the outlet and run that to your container, but we have not tried this yet. The Nalgene bottle seemed like the simple solution to use with the filter and we filled our other containers from this bottle.

{Product use update} – Our party of 3 did a 4-day back country hike in the Grand Canyon (search: Tanner Trail) this past winter. This is definitely NOT a tourist trail, and the first 2000-3000 ft of elevation is not much a trail at all. The noted only water source along this entire route is at the very bottom of the canyon, the Colorado River. We were able to augment our hike-in water supply by searching for pools of water trapped in depressions of the rocks near the places where we made camp, and pumping water from them using the MSR Miniworks. I don’t even want to think of what was in those water pools, but what came through the filter was clean and refreshing. We made notes of the larger water pools, which allowed us to lighten our water load on the hike-out and stop by the pools for a top-off when we needed it.