Have you ever gone on a hike just to be wowed by nature? To see a freaking amazing view? Or sit in awe and wonder of an archaeological site?
Now let me ask, have you been sorely disappointed when you arrive only to find that every tree around your picture perfect campsite has been stripped of bark and dying?
Or every boulder on the top of the mountain with the freaking amazing view has been vandalized?
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Or all the artifacts you came to see had been stolen?
This is where Leave No Trace principle ‘Leave What You Find’ comes into play.
The idea behind Leave What You Find is simple – leave every natural, wild, and archaeological area exactly as you found it, so that other visitors can experience that same wow-factor that you did while you were there.
While it really is that simple, sadly, the examples we talked about earlier happen each and every season.
Here’s how to Leave What You Find:
- Great campsites are found, not made. Do not alter a campsite by cutting down trees or saplings, peeling bark off of live trees, building lean-to’s or log cabins, or by building additional fire rings.
- Leave the trees alone. Do not hammer any nails, hooks, or signs in them, saw or break off branches, or carve your initials into them. All of these things can open the tree up to infection, disease, and invasive insects that will kill the tree.
- Let wild flowers grow. Do not pick wild flowers. Please leave them there for other visitors to enjoy. Not only does picking a few flowers mean there are less for others to see, it also means there are less plants around to reproduce and reseed for next year. Take a picture or make a drawing instead.
- Do not move or remove any cultural artifacts found on public land. That is illegal. Cultural artifacts include things like arrowheads, pottery, grinding stones or other tools, or even building structures.
Sometimes we don’t realize our actions in the back country create negative impacts that can last for years.
It takes a village to use the Leave No Trace principles to make a positive impact on our wilderness areas and even undo some of the negative human impacts already created.
For more ways to practice Leave No Trace on the trail, check out:
- What To Do With Trash, Food Waste, and Human Waste
- Water Purification Methods For Hikers
- How To Minimize Your Impact While Hiking
- How To Poop In The Woods
Ask any questions about Leave No Trace or Leave What You Find in the comments below!