Nothing But A FootPrint
Leave No Trace!! These three words are so often talked about on the trail but rarely actually followed. I myself have been guilty of not completely following some of the rules, but its time we all come together to protect what we all love so much and follow by all the LNT rules. A good friend of mine has spoken with a few ATC members about some of the larger LNT issues of the AT and one to mention is Graffiti!!?? WHAAAAATTTT???? Yes graffiti, well you may ask yourself i thought that only happened in big cities and on interstate bridges? (which has always been mind blowing to me) Well my brothers and sisters it has made its way to our neck of the woods and we must do something about it.
Whats exactly happening?
First and foremost the shelters have been getting tagged for a long time, and probably wont stop any time soon. We must think of others tho and the future generations of hikers, the forest is meant to be a clean, yet untamed place to collect yourself, not an art gallery. The biggest issue I have personally seen and has been brought to my attention is carving into trees and spray painting of rock faces and walls. Once again I am a completely on board with expression of art and love art myself, but there is a time and place for art and the forest is not that place!! Atleast not for human art!! The woods are filled with natural art and as long as you take the time to stop, look, and listen you will be overwhelmed with the art surrounding you.
Other things to consider
One of the more common problems we see in the woods and not only on the trail is trash being burned in the fire pit. As tempting as it may be to hurl that old pringles can off into the flames its probably best that you dont! We dont think about the small living creatures that make that old fire pit home and the burning of those harmful plastics that make a difference not only to you but them as well. Not burying your poop deep enough is another issue at hand, or should i say at butt. Its easy to think that it will just disappear over time, which it will, but not before possibly doing some damage to the surrounding ecosystem. I know you ultra light backpackers are saying “well im not carrying a trowel” and “thats too much extra weight” which i totally understand, but that being said just means you have to take the extra steps to make sure your doing your part as well. I am not a trowel carrier myself but i do make sure to find a good stick and some soft soil to dig into on top of covering the area with a rock or two just for extra safety. (we hike with dogs)
What can we do?
We can all help each other by following just simple ideas (dont want to call them rules) to keep the forest natural. Which sometimes means keeping each other in check. I know no one wants to be that one guy/girl who is telling everyone what to do, but it doesn’t have to be viewed as an attack on an individual. Lets face it, we all have been guilty of one or two of the things that may or may not be included in this list but it doesn’t make us criminals. It may just mean that we were unaware of our effects or thought that what we were doing wasn’t as bad as some of the others. We must start working as a team or a family if I may call it to help protect our home and stop the madness that is happening in these forest. Remember to help a fellow hiker in practicing LEAVE NO TRACE!!!
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