Leave What You Find

There are seven major “leave no trace” principles. Number four is “leave what you find.” I broke the rule.

Backpacking into a remote subalpine lake was a joy – until we reached the camping area and discovered huge bough beds hacked by a careless backcountry visitor from nearby conifer trees at the lake edge.

Before... (Photo: M.Kopp)

I couldn’t leave the boughs sitting there, giving the idea to future campers that this was acceptable practice. So I removed them and scattered the evidence in the woods.

... and after. (Photo: M.Kopp)

Leave what you find doesn’t mean not cleaning up messes left behind by less-than-caring campers. It means giving others the opportunity to discover somewhat pristine environments.

Leave No Trace Principle Number Four:

  1. Minimize site alterations (e.g. don’t dig trenches for tents, construct lean-tos, table or chairs)
  2. Avoid damaging live trees and plants (e.g. cutting boughs for beds = minimum benefit + maximum impact. Always use lightweight and comfy sleeping pads).
  3. Leave natural objects and cultural artifacts (e.g. enjoy antlers and arrowheads, but leave them where you found them).

© 2011

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