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Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace

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Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 10, 2017 08:57AM
I want to get some people's opinion about certain aspects of Leave No Trace. Here's a link to Yosemite Wilderness regulations for reference. I mostly follow the rules, but re-reading them now I see some that I don't follow so closely.

"Choose a previously impacted campsite...
I guess I don't really follow this rule. I agree that if you find a previously impacted site, it's better to camp on it than next to it. However, I prefer to steer clear of them altogether.

...at least 100 feet (30 meters/40 paces) from any water source or trail."
I usually follow this one. On my last trip, two of our more remote campsites ended up being about 50 feet from small trickles of water. What do people think: bad idea?

"Carry out all trash. Do not burn or bury toilet paper or trash."
I follow this one carefully when it comes to my own trash. However, there are practical limits when it comes to other people's trash. I've carried balloons, banana peels, even a small can or two. At the very bottom of the Tuolumne River trail, my group found some large-ish, thoroughly rusted steel cans wedged under rocks. Presumably they'd been brought in with the aid of pack animals. We chose not to haul them 3600 feet up to White Wolf, our destination for the next day. The biggest piece of wilderness trash that I've personally seen was an unwashed skillet, 10 inches across if not larger, in Marble Mountain Wilderness. Again, nobody in my party wanted to carry it.

"Proper food storage is mandatory."
Don't say this too loudly, but I've gotten away with hanging small quantities of "smellables" in more-remote areas of Yosemite when they didn't fit in my bear can. This is not a recommendation in general, and a definite no-no in heavily used areas, but I wanted to hear what other people have done.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/10/2017 08:57AM by iivvgg.
avatar Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 10, 2017 01:15PM
Regarding "previously impacted campsite", the rangers at Tuolumne Meadows have sometimes put that as "durable surface". So, snow, sand, rock are the most "durable" as impact on the surrounding environment is minimal, meadows would of course be least "durable".
avatar Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 10, 2017 02:13PM
Perfect leadup to this:



(3 peeps, 10 dayz)

Got canz?

We have decided that the proper answer to:
"Have you seen any bears?"
is
"Yeah, we saw a few but they just sauntered off, never bothered us,
we pretty much ignore them since bear cans are required... you have a bear can, right?"

tongue sticking out smiley

w/r to camping spot:
Durable surface is so that you can't really tell your impact. So if you can do that... then
my opinion is camp where you like. The least impacted, the better. Personally seeing
a bunch of logs in circles and trampled ground ... is just depressing. Who wants that?
I guess most. I don't. The people I go with don't.
There's places that have been thru many many times and to see camp "furniture" and
new fire rings appear on a yearly basis recently... sigh.. really?

w/i 50 ft of a trickle? is it a constant flow? just so much water around?
The 100 ft. is supposed to be so OTHER people coming around have some privacy too.
Like don't camp next to the lake. Or right next to the trail. Someone exploring around
a lake should not have to dance around someone else's campsite.
Additionally the actual wildlife should be able to access water w/o dodging you either.
This is my opinion. But I'm pretty sure that's why...

The pack out trash. ... is a no brainer... and don't burn it either. And sure as heck don't
try burning tin foil...

Anyway, have fun and LNT

Please



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 11, 2017 07:09AM
If it's an old rusty can that seems more than 50 years old it is an artifact and must be left alone. Picking up hauling out others trash is optional. We've found some interesting stuff. Lots of balloons, a weather thingy that had some electronic in it. (it had instructions on notifying the NWS which I did but got no response) A NPS radio. An ammo clip w/ammo. Broken glass is iffy. I'll kick some dirt over TP but I won't touch it. Might get what that person had that prevented them from properly handling it in the first place.



Old Dude
Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 11, 2017 10:27AM
Quote
mrcondron
I'll kick some dirt over TP but I won't touch it. Might get what that person had that prevented them from properly handling it in the first place.

Omg. Sooo many ideas on what to say is the ailment afflicting those who leave TP behind... I'm spluttering...
Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 11, 2017 10:34AM
The guys were nice to me (cuz of my footy issue)...

I carried one Bearikade Weekender and the BearVault Solo. Both loaded with mostly just the puffy light items (freeze dried veggies and puffy snacks), still 11-ish pounds to start... The guys took almost all the heavy dense food..

Basilbop had our custom Bearikade 16". Just under 20 pounds loaded. Chickon's Bearikade Weekender and Scout totaled 18 pounds. All weights food plus cans.

It was a bit daunting at first... but worked out, and we ate almost everything!

10 days was my longest no-resupply stint! Yay!
Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 11, 2017 09:58PM
Quote
chick-on
a bunch of logs in circles and trampled ground ... is just depressing. Who wants that?
I guess most. I don't. The people I go with don't.
There's places that have been thru many many times and to see camp "furniture" and
new fire rings appear on a yearly basis recently... sigh.. really?

Seems that your views are backed up by research, with you being the role of a manager:
" The interviews conducted in this study, albeit limited in number and perhaps representative only of users who go to popular areas, suggest that most do not feel campsite impacts have the negative effect on experiences that some managers have believed occur."

The whole article itself is an interesting ready:
Farrell, T., Hall, T. E., & White, D. D. (2001). Wilderness campers' perception and evaluation of campsite impacts. Journal of Leisure Research, 33(3), 229.

This one is neat too. Similar findings, where visitors don't mind impacts as much as managers do:
Martin, S. R., McCool, S. F., & Lucas, R. C. (1989). Wilderness campsite impacts: Do managers and visitors see them the same?. Environmental Management, 13(5), 623-629.
avatar Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 11, 2017 10:39PM
My guess is that the vast majority of wilderness users go once or twice a year.
I'd also guess that they aren't really looking for wilderness. They would just
as well like to be in a campground. Wilderness, what is that? I have to
actually look for a campsite? Where are the campsites? Hey this isn't a
campsite, there's no picnic tables or chairs and fire rings! Let's make one.
There, that's better. We made it better! Yay!
I'm blaming media and perception and companies selling the outdoors.
It isn't camping without a fire they say!

Sigh. I wasn't any better a long time ago. Maybe I got smarter. Maybe
everyone else doesn't see what I see. Maybe they don't want to.
Maybe they don't care. They'll only be there once or twice. They should
carve their initials in that tree... so when they come back they can
remember. Or someone else will know.

I'll try to manage. I need the mountains though to do so.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 11, 2017 11:57PM
Quote
chick-on

Sigh. I wasn't any better a long time ago. Maybe I got smarter. Maybe
everyone else doesn't see what I see. Maybe they don't want to.
Maybe they don't care. ....

Amen! The first time I heard that campfire is like a scar on the face of the earth, it seemed a bit harsh to me. It does make sense though and I have been able to open eyes of many of my friends about this, even those who are not into backcountry trips. These things always remind me of a billboard caption that I saw in NYC in 2010 - The farther you go from the civilization, the more civilized you become.

@Buster - I see this as (in general terms) - the more one is invested in the backcountry/outdoors, the more one cares about it. I am definitely thankful for people who spread the awareness to minimize impact in the backcountry. Thankfully, we in the US are far more aware and cognizant of these things than most of the other places in the world. Great points about durability and significant impact from first few users
avatar Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 12, 2017 06:57AM
Quote
buster
Seems that your views are backed up by research, with you being the role of a manager:
" The interviews conducted in this study, albeit limited in number and perhaps representative only of users who go to popular areas, suggest that most do not feel campsite impacts have the negative effect on experiences that some managers have believed occur."

The whole article itself is an interesting ready:
Farrell, T., Hall, T. E., & White, D. D. (2001). Wilderness campers' perception and evaluation of campsite impacts. Journal of Leisure Research, 33(3), 229.

I took a look at this.

I wonder how the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness has changed since 2001.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/willamette/recarea/?recid=4241

For example:
" If camping within 250 feet of any of the lakes in Jefferson Park you must camp within a designated site."

For the record:
I am forever (however long that is) grateful that I live near the Sierra Nevada and to anyone who
had a hand in protecting what we have and the opportunity for solitude and exploration
and enjoyment that we have I thank whole heartedly. I know I have it good.

I'll add that I think that a large portion feel that if they are safer if they camp right next to the trail.
At least this is one of my theories on what we call "PCT Drop n Plop Spots" (ok, maybe I called
them that).

w/r to the link above I also love:
"The best campsites are found not made."



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 12, 2017 10:54PM
Quote
chick-on
I wonder how the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness has changed since 2001.

Me too. Would be interesting to have a follow up study, but not a lot of studies into these questions. Lack of money

Quote
chick-on
I'll add that I think that a large portion feel that if they are safer if they camp right next to the trail.
At least this is one of my theories on what we call "PCT Drop n Plop Spots" (ok, maybe I called
them that).

I ascribe it to laziness. They just want to get their miles in, and it's easiest, quickest and least energy intensive to just sleep next to or on the trail. In general it seems laziness or convenience can account for many if not most of the times hikers break the rules.

Quote
chick-on
w/r to the link above I also love:
"The best campsites are found not made."

Yes, totally agree. Really flips the perspective on what it takes to properly camp while in wilderness.
avatar Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 11, 2017 07:18PM
I'm likewise more looking for a durable surface, but I'll happily stay on an existing site if there aren't too many other people around.

I'll add that the 100' from water is to also protect the delicate riparian ecosystem along the banks of streams and rivers. All the crap we carry with us from bug spray and sunscreen to the bacteria on our skin can and will mess with the riparian ecosystem in addition to all the extra trampling of the plants. My partners and I don't much care if someone is 90' from the water, but if someone is obviously not even trying, we'll say something.

As for "smelly" things - as a bear I'd like to say most of us know the difference between bug spray or sunscreen and breakfast bars. I think most of the people that say "we didn't have food the bear must have smelled my hand lotion" is garbage, they had food and we ate it. They just got lucky that we either didn't leave any food mess or they had a chance to clean up before the ranger arrived. But who knows, maybe some bear was stupid or confused enough. We're meticulous about food storage, and cleaning after dining, including any drips on clothes. We are not so meticulous about the sun screen and hand sanitizer. The only time we even came close to having an issue with a bear was while eating lunch.



Do what you love.
Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 11, 2017 08:02PM
My two (twenty?) cents...

Learn current best practices for LNT for your environment. There are some differences depending on where you are.

Current LNT.org guideline says camp 200' from water. (Double official NPS guideline) We try for this whenever possible-or further. We like our privacy and figure others do too. Grrrr. I almost had a conniption fit first time seeing Summit Lake out of Virginia Lakes TH. And I despise PCT-style "plop spots"... I get a bit grumpy when it's the end of a long day or I'm in pain, but I still understand the need to find a decent durable spot.

Favorite surfaces are durable: granite, decomposed granite, needle-duff. Don't like sand, but it's durable too.

I wish campfires were outlawed altogether at all elevations! The mess firerings make- charcoal and charcoal dust that doesn't go away. Scarred rocks. The eyesores. Not natural. Obviously man made.

And before I hear anyone say anything about safety and keeping warm, please learn about hypothermia, how to avoid it, recognize it, and learn what a hypo-wrap is! That's what's going to save a life.

And please please please, don't make rock piles! This is out of hand. We have now spoken to rangers up and down the Sierra-west and east. It's an epidemic. They work at removing them, but the damage is done as soon as somone moves those rocks. It's not natural, it doesn't fit in with the concept of wilderness. If you want to see human art, go to an art exhibit.

I am a huge believer in bear cans. Love our bear cans. (See chickons post with can tower in this thread.)

NO SOAP - not for dishes, not for bodies. I'm still stuck on toothpaste, tho, but dispose dispersed well away from water.

And I don't know what to call someone who doesn't dig a proper hole or pack out their toilet paper-or diapers or tampons or pads or bandaids, etc! Why are you out there? What do you think you are doing? Who do you think you are? (I have seen all the listed items and it disgusts me).

I'm properly riled up right now. I might need to spend a little more time on re-entry before commenting on these types of things. I'm generally a nice person, I think. But the claws come out when I see the wilderness disrespected.
Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 12, 2017 11:11PM
Quote
JustKeepWalking
My two (twenty?) cents...

Learn current best practices for LNT for your environment. There are some differences depending on where you are.

Current LNT.org guideline says camp 200' from water. (Double official NPS guideline) We try for this whenever possible-or further. We like our privacy and figure others do too. Grrrr. I almost had a conniption fit first time seeing Summit Lake out of Virginia Lakes TH. And I despise PCT-style "plop spots"... I get a bit grumpy when it's the end of a long day or I'm in pain, but I still understand the need to find a decent durable spot.

Favorite surfaces are durable: granite, decomposed granite, needle-duff. Don't like sand, but it's durable too.

I wish campfires were outlawed altogether at all elevations! The mess firerings make- charcoal and charcoal dust that doesn't go away. Scarred rocks. The eyesores. Not natural. Obviously man made.

And before I hear anyone say anything about safety and keeping warm, please learn about hypothermia, how to avoid it, recognize it, and learn what a hypo-wrap is! That's what's going to save a life.

And please please please, don't make rock piles! This is out of hand. We have now spoken to rangers up and down the Sierra-west and east. It's an epidemic. They work at removing them, but the damage is done as soon as somone moves those rocks. It's not natural, it doesn't fit in with the concept of wilderness. If you want to see human art, go to an art exhibit.

I am a huge believer in bear cans. Love our bear cans. (See chickons post with can tower in this thread.)

NO SOAP - not for dishes, not for bodies. I'm still stuck on toothpaste, tho, but dispose dispersed well away from water.

And I don't know what to call someone who doesn't dig a proper hole or pack out their toilet paper-or diapers or tampons or pads or bandaids, etc! Why are you out there? What do you think you are doing? Who do you think you are? (I have seen all the listed items and it disgusts me).

I'm properly riled up right now. I might need to spend a little more time on re-entry before commenting on these types of things. I'm generally a nice person, I think. But the claws come out when I see the wilderness disrespected.

Yes to everything you said. Couldn't have said it any better.

Seems like Leave No Trace is a misnomer. It should really be Minimize Your Trace. Leaving no trace is an impossible goal, you'll always leave a trace, however small. While the principles of LNT try to stress minimizing your impacts, it's all under the banner of Leave No Trace, where it is implied that if you just follow it at a certain point you hit your goal and you don't have to do anything else. You should always try to minimize your impact. I think it leads to people saying they follow LNT, however closely or shoddily, in order to justify what they are doing by saying it has no impact.
Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 11, 2017 09:41PM
Quote
iivvgg
"Choose a previously impacted campsite...
I guess I don't really follow this rule. I agree that if you find a previously impacted site, it's better to camp on it than next to it. However, I prefer to steer clear of them altogether.

The rule is written that way because of the lifecycle of campsites and it's best to use an existing one than create a new one. A ton of nuance here and exceptions, but in general the first half-dozen to dozen nights at the campsite creates the majority of the impacts. Thereafter, each subsequent visit has less impact until it plateaus (assuming a relatively constant group size).



This graph doesn't show it, but if the campsite was then closed it's recovery would be long and slow. Once the soil is compacted in the campsite, plants have a hard time establishing themselves there. Combined with the short growing season at high elevation, natural recovery takes a long time, in the order of decades. With active restoration, including decompacting the soil, recovery times are less but restoration is obviously a time intensive task.

As others have pointed out, one of the LNT principles is "Camp and Travel on durable surfaces" and one the Rangers use as a corollary to this regulation, as often times people don't want or are not at an established campsite. Then it's best to be on a durable surface and an established campsite should be considered a durable surface. Of course, the 'best' campsite at any location is very subjective and depends on a variety of factors like time of year, conditions on the ground, group size, other groups present, time to alternative sites, etc.
Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 12, 2017 11:30AM
iivvgg >>>"Choose a previously impacted campsite..."

For decades have tended to LNT camp well away from trails and lake edges in more pristine areas where there there may be no or little sign of previous sites. But then occasionally, especially on routes out to more remote areas, may find myself along trails where I may indeed camp at a well used site. Of course the vast majority of groups habitually camp within about 200 feet of trails and lake edges. Thus the policy is addressing those majority folks where excessive impacts are an issue. There are some visitors that have a habit of always laboriously clearing tent spaces down to very level bare soil. Those people ought always look for previously used spots. Same camp bodies are no doubt the ones that tend to scour nearby areas for rock furniture they then drag to camp sites. There are obviously some visitors that do all their hiking while on trails and once in camp, don't day hike much of anywhere beyond near lake shores. So lounge about looking for ways to enhance their campsite.

iivvgg >>>"Carry out all trash. Do not burn or bury toilet paper or trash."

Again this targets those who camp in well used areas. The remote places I tend to camp at are not going to have any negative issues burying toilet paper. But yeah when I am at such heavily used zones will Ziplock bag TP. Such policies tend to be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator of visitors, so do not voice exceptions lest the weak minded use such for their own excuses.

iivvgg >>>"Proper food storage is mandatory."

Last week I just completed my 199th backpacking trip over 4+ decades. I do have a good sense of where black bear roam. There are some zones outside of national parks where not only I have never seen any signs of bear but also no one else has reported any. For instance where I backpacked in August for a week into the Laurel Creek hanging valley above Mono Creek. Generally inside national parks, I am much more compliant to the letter. But then there are a few places in national parks where one is highly unlikely to ever see a bear because bears have no interest in such remote areas away from trails, away from natural foods, that require exertion to reach. For instance in Yosemite, on the ridge line climbing route leading to Mount Conness or on top of Falls Ridge.

As a quite active backpacker over decades, the two policy issues I am most concerned about that I see groups ignore the most are camping too close to lakes and making fires above elevation limits. And it has become noticeable worse in the last couple decades, especially along through trails. Much of that is due to lack of enforcement since backcountry rangers are few within vast areas and penalties are trivial. People violating important policy ought be barred for a period of a couple years or so from obtaining wilderness permits. And the NFS and NPS ought to have a list of people violating important policy that will give violators reason to be more considerate. Accordingly for a long time have advocated those of we backpackers with capable communication skills confront other groups we see ignoring policy. And I've confronted a long list of such groups over long years but doing so requires tact, especially a lack of emotion and blame.

David




http://www.davidsenesac.com



Edited 9 time(s). Last edit at 09/12/2017 12:02PM by DavidSenesac.
avatar Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 12, 2017 07:14PM
On the issue of campfires, I, too, have come to the view that it'd be preferable if they were categorically disallowed in the Sierra.

I haven't made a wilderness campfire in many years but didn't entirely hold this view, but honestly...the number of obviously illegal campfire rings is insane. From my most recent trip at Peeler Lake where all campfires are illegal, I found 3 (or so) already destroyed but recently used campfire rings and one other such ring that I destroyed myself in, I'd say, about 200 feet of my (legal) site. I also saw an illegal campfire ring where I camped at Young Lakes (all three lakes are well above the 9,600' limit), and this ring was built against a large rock so the soot won't go away.
Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 12, 2017 10:41PM
I see I've struck a nerve.

I have much less backpacking experience than many of you. I only go a couple of times a year. But I'm still generally a purist, except for the items that I mentioned in my post.

I think that people who bury TP have inflated expectations of how quickly it decays. We've had this conversation with my cousin several times. (She's backpacked a couple of times, but not recently.) She always says that if you bury TP, it will be gone in "two days." She wasn't impressed when I mentioned the banana peel that I'd found that "looked like Tutankhamun". Does anyone have facts? Is anyone with a backyard willing to stage an experiment? Bury a small wad of (clean) TP and dig it up next summer. Different climate and soils, of course, but still enlightening.

For those who have asked, the two campsites near "trickles" of water that I mentioned are Camp 1 and Camp 3 on this itinerary (which I already posted recently in a different context). We were definitely well away from the riparian zone. Both trickles looked liable to dry out by October even in this very wet year. But we did pump water from both of them, using little pools about the size of a cupped hand.

@buster: I don't have time now to read those articles, but I'll try to get to them.
avatar Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 14, 2017 03:35PM
I wish Leave No Trace was taught in the schools. Growing populations are causing more and more impact on the Earth. I think it could help if children were taught to minimize the impact of everything that we do.
Re: Wilderness regulations and Leave No Trace
September 19, 2017 09:29PM
LNT discussion on the JMT Yahoo Group website:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/johnmuirtrail/conversations/messages/66673



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/19/2017 09:34PM by KenS.
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