Backpacker Radio 97 | Ben Lawhon of Leave No Trace

In today’s episode of backpacker radio presented by The Trek we are joined by Ben Lawhon the Director of Education and Research at Leave No Trace.  Not that Leave No Trace needs any introduction, as this is a framework we’ve spoken about countless times on the show and I’m guessing you were familiar with it before Backpacker Radio entered your lives, but this interview is incredibly important and we think you’ll find surprisingly entertaining. 

Not only do we go very deep on the proper way to shit in the backcountry including why poop soup is king, but we cover a range of topics including why something as seemingly small as tossing an apple core off the trail can have profound impacts, how social media interplays with Leave No Trace, and the best way to educate others who are in violation of LNT, including why saying nothing can sometimes be the best policy.  We’re sincere in saying that we think you’ll find our conversation with Ben very interesting.

We wrap the show with a triple crown of 90s sitcoms, how we would handle a docile zombie apocalypse of stinky people, and a mailbag featuring the cinnamon connection invading people’s dreams.

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Interview with Ben Lawhon

00:05:00 – QOTD: What is your biggest LNT non-compliant pet peeve? 

00:07:30 – Introduction to Ben Lawhon

00:07:58 – How did you get into conservation?

00:11:07 – What were some of the things you learned in your LNT master course that sparked your interest? 

00:13:04 – Is there a trick to instilling LNT ethics in people? Does you notice a correlation with thru-hiking? 

00:17:30 – Can you speak to the difference on the AT between the 90’s and now from an LNT standpoint? 

00:20:34 – How does a Leave No Trace principle come to be? What is the process for developing them? 

00:25:06 – What was the Leave No Trace principle that got cut? 

00:26:32 – Are there any instances of principles or techniques being removed? 

00:29:28 – Do you ever get people who are frustrated when principles change?

00:31:26 – Does anyone have any failed shitput footage?

00:31:47 – Can you elaborate on plan ahead and prepare? 

00:35:14 – What would you recommend to someone who is preparing for a short backpacking trip? 

00:37:51 – Can you elaborate on the principle: Travel and camp on durable surfaces?

00:41:06 – When the trail is muddy, should you walk through the mud or go around it? 

00:43:41 – Are you seeing increasing issues with people stepping off trail to take the perfect Instagram photo? 

00:46:35 – Can you elaborate on the principle: Dispose of waste properly?

00:53:21 – Has the guidance on packing out your toilet paper changed? And does it vary by environment? 

00:56:37 – So if your hole is the depth it should be it won’t get dug up?

00:57:24 – Should people cover up the toilet paper with their poop?

00:59:25 – Fact or myth: do menstrual fluids attract bears?

01:00:45 – When should people not bury their poop?

01:03:55 – When people are hiking with their dogs should they bury their dogs poop too?

01:04:10 – Do you know of any compostable diaper liners that you could bury? 

01:06:56 – Can you chuck apple cores off into the woods? What is the leave no trace policy on it? What are the biggest problems? 

01:10:00 – Can you talk about the leave what you find principle?

01:16:19 – Is there anything about carving into trees  you want to talk about? 

01:19:18 – What is the leave no trace stance on cairns?

01:21:32 – Can you elaborate on the principle of minimizing fire impacts? 

01:25:02 – You said no fires on the AT in Georgia? 

Follow up from Ben on the subject: 




Camping on the trail in Georgia

Refer to the guide books for locations. There is camping at all of the shelters or you may camp at one of the many established campsites along the trail or stay in one of the shelters. Learn about and follow Leave No Trace principles and use areas already hardened by use. If you have a fire, please use existing fire rings and be sure your fire is dead out before leaving the area. Be acquainted with no-fire zones such as on Blood Mountain. Refer to the Chattahoochee National Forest website for news and information about fire restrictions that may be in effect.


01:29:31 – Do you think LNT will ever change it’s stance on campfire guidance? 

01:32:10 – What about explosive gender reveal parties? 

01:33:20 – Can you elaborate on the principle: respect wildife? 

01:39:20 – What’s the proper way to approach someone who is violating Leave No Trace?

01:45:14 – How does that apply to online behavior? 

01:48:39 – What is Leave No Trace’s social media recommendations on geotagging?

01:52:50 – Where can people go to learn more? 



Trek Propaganda 

Triple Crown of 90s Sitcoms

Reddit Brain Buster: You have an incredible night’s sleep, wake up and the world is infested by zombies (9 out of 10 people). They are not lethal. Instead they’re painfully boring, obsessed with politics and smell like off codfish. What do you do?

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Comments 2

  • chris mcgovern : Mar 10th

    well shit! now I need to retract my comment from the episode 92. I still cant fathom leaving TP out there…..great info


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