#1 Plan Ahead and Prepare: This is the most important!!!

Poor planning often results in miserable campers and damage to natural and cultural resources.  Rangers often tell stories of campers they have encountered who, because of poor planning and unexpected conditions, degrade backcountry resources and put themselves at risk.

Why is pre-trip planning important?
• It helps ensure the SAFETY OF THE GROUP and individuals.
• It enables you to plan to Leave No Trace and minimizes resource damage.
• It contributes to accomplishing trip goals safely and enjoyably.
• It increases self-confidence and opportunities for learning more about nature.
• Think of some of your own reasons!

Some things to consider when planning a trip:
• Identify and record goals/expectations.
• Identify the skills and abilities of trip participants and stock.
• Select destinations that match your goals, skills, and abilities.
• Gain knowledge of the area you plan to visit from land managers, maps, literature and people who have recently visited the area.
• Choose equipment and clothing for comfort, safety and Leave No Trace qualities.
• Plan trip activities to match your goals, skills and abilities.
• Evaluate your trip upon return and consider changes would you make for next time.

Meal Planning:
Meals are another element to trip planning that can have a PROFOUND EFFECT on the impact a group has on a backcountry area unless we plan for:
• Trash reduction.
• Reduced pack weight = faster times, less fatigue.
• Reduced dependence on fires for cooking, resulting in less natural impact.
• Drying as much food as possible to take.  Include lightweight, easy-cook meals.
• Careful consideration for placement of camp kitchen.  (See #2)

Leave No Trace #1 – Plan Ahead and Preparation: some considerations

1. Riding and horse handling skills and rider evaluations.
2. First aid for horse and rider ( to what level?)
3. Trail skills – what to take, how to ride trails, ponying, packing, knots.
4. Camping skills – appropriate equipment, clothing, tents, water purification,  setting up camp.
5. Navigation – map and compass, GPS.
6. Stock management, feeding, water, invasive weeds, highlining, hobbles and pickets.
7. Outdoor cooking and fire craft.
8. Emergency planning – before and during, people skills, group control and management, emergency communication, follow-up.
9. Trip planning and preparation – group consensus, who comes, where are we going, when do we go, what are our travel plans, what are our emergency plans and contacts, are there special area regulations or rules we need to be aware of before we go?

Why wouldn’t I do this?

#2 Travel and Camp on Durable surfaces:

Travel damage occurs when surface vegetation or communities of soil organisms are trampled beyond recovery.  The resulting barren area leads to soil erosion and the development of undesirable trails.  Backcountry travel may involve travel over both trails and off-trail areas.
• Stay on trails in heavily used areas.  Don’t shortcut – especially on switchbacks.
• Spread use and impact in pristine areas.
• Surface durability, frequency of use and group size are important concepts for all backcountry users to understand.

Camp on Durable surfaces:
A decision about where to camp should be based on information about the level and type of use in the area, the fragility of vegetation and soil, the likelihood of wildlife disturbance, an assessment of previous impacts, and your party’s potential to cause or avoid impact.

Leave No Trace #2 – Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Some considerations:

1. Choosing a suitable and durable campsite – what makes a suitable and durable site, setting up camp.
2. Choosing equipment – what to take on a day ride, overnight ride, multi-day ride.  Kit lists, weight awareness.
3. Highlining, stock management, overnight management, feeding stock in the mountains.
4. Reading maps, compass and GPS to help locate suitable sites.

Why wouldn’t I do this?

#3 Dispose of Waste Properly

Proper disposal of solid human and equine waste is important in order to avoid pollution of water sources, minimize the spread of disease and maximize decomposition.
• Cat holes are the best method for disposal in wilderness areas.
• 200 ft from any water source and placed where there is little chance of someone finding it .
• Using a garden trowel, make it 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter.  Completely bury waste along with the TP.
• Latrines are for longer stays.  Dirt should be tossed in after each use.  Placement is also 200 ft. from water sources.
• Urine has little effect on natural surroundings.
• Manure from our equines can be dispersed by flinging to break up the balls, exposing it to elements which will speed up decomposition. This won’t happen in dry, desert environments.

Leave No Trace #3 – Waste Disposal

Some considerations:

What wastes do we produce on rides?  Manure, human waste, trash, leftover food, grey water, feminine sanitary supplies, even condoms.
1. Manure – how to handle dispersal.
2. Human waste management – good book called “How to Shit in the Woods”; use latrines if available, individual cat holes, 200 ft from any water source, group cat holes, urine, TP, feminine sanitary supplies, the vital importance of hand washing.  Be aware of area regulations.
3. Trash – don’t even pack it in, leave it at home, strip off unnecessary packaging, burn only burnables, plastics are toxic, pack out what you can’t burn or had to pack in, to dispose of at home.
4. Leftovers – requires careful menu planning to avoid, use in other meals, pack out or feed to dogs, don’t dispose of in latrines (bear aware) or near campsites, don’t bury for the same reasons.
5. Grey water – 200 ft from camp site, bathing, washing dishes NEVER done in water sources, rather take water at least 200 ft from source and wash, disposal by broadcasting over durable surfaces, dishwater should be strained and the bits collected for the garbage, latrines can be used for greywater in some areas, check before you go in about this.
6. Feminine supplies should not be buried, can be burned but best collected into paper bags in ziplocs with some activate.

Why wouldn’t I do this?

#4 Leave what you find

Allow others a sense of discovery by leaving rocks, plants, cultural artifacts and other objects of interest as you found them.

• Minimize site alteration.  Leave pristine sites as you found them.  Don’t trench, or make furniture, etc.  Replace items you clear, such as surface rocks, twigs, cones, etc. to disguise your passing.
• On high impacted sites it is appropriate to dismantle multiple fire rings, constructed seats or tables, corrals, etc. that all lead to increased impact in those areas.
• Avoid damaging live plants or trees.  Don’t cut branches for firewood.  Use tree saver straps for highlining and tarp ropes.

Leave No Trace #4 – Leave what you Find

Some considerations:

1. Take only pictures, leave only foot or hoofprints.
2. Everything has a purpose in nature.  To remove natural items unnecessarily, removes possible survival means for something.
3. Fire management – wood removal.
4. Stock management – tree savers- trampled earth and roots.
5. Camping and cooking issues.
6. Minimizing your impact!  Try to leave your campsite as natural looking as possible.

Why wouldn’t I do this?

#5 Minimize Campfire Impact

A true Leave No Trace fire shows no evidence of having ever been constructed.
• Choose not to have a fire in areas where there is little wood such as at higher elevations, in heavily used areas or in desert settings.
• The best place to build a fire is in an existing fire ring in a well placed campsite.
• Avoid building fires next to rock out-croppings as the black scars will remain for hundreds of years.
• Try building mound fires: mineral soil, spread out 3-5 inches thick on a ground cloth.  Can be safely built on duff, grass or litter.  Once fire is burned to ash and cool, it can be safely dispersed with no trace of a fire left behind.
• Use only downed wood.  Try not to cut down or cut up dead or fallen trees as these are home to many species of animals.
• Choose to use lightweight stoves and pack only as much fuel as needed rather than a campfire for cooking.
• Make sure fuels are in leak-proof containers.  Spilled fuel on the skin of pack animals can cause serious chemical burns!
• Dismantling campfires means dispersing charred wood and ash to keep the area looking as natural as possible.  Charred rocks should also be dispersed with the charred side hidden to discourage rebuilding of these fire rings.

Leave No Trace #5 – Minimizing Campfire Impacts

Some considerations:

1. Using propane or white gas.  Lightweight stoves.
2. Firecraft – tinder, kindling, fuel and how to collect and store.  Firestarters, what works when wet.
Styles of fires – no stones.  Use pits or mounds or pans on durable surfaces, mineral earth, charcoal briquettes.
3. Cooking on a campfire or briquettes.
4. Menu planning that minimizes fuel consumption.
5. Inappropriate fire ring. deciding when to dismantle old or inappropriate rings.

Why wouldn’t I do this?

#6 Respect Wildlife

Remember at all times that you are a visitor in their home.  Minimize impact by traveling in small groups no larger than 10.

• Observe from afar.
• Give wide berth.
• Store food and garbage securely and out of reach of all wildlife.
• Allow unobstructed access to water by camping 200 ft away from water sources.
• Avoid polluting water sources with human and animal waste as well as wash water.
• Be aware of the seasons.  Breeding, calving, cubs, salmon spawning, etc.

Leave No Trace #6 – Respect Wildlife

Some considerations:

1. Observing from a distance – don’t follow or approach.  Avoid quick movement or eye contact.
2. Avoiding sensitive times and habitats.  Know your animals needs and requirements.  The more you understand, the more considerate you can be of their needs.
3. Never feeding animals as it damages health, alters behaviors, exposes them to predators.
4. Applies to creatures big and small.
5. Storing food, trash and personal belongings securely. Keep a clean camp.
6. Controlling your pets as they may cause disturbance, can carry or contract disease.

Why wouldn’t I do this?

#7 Be Considerate of Other Visitors

• Keep campsites small and unobtrusive
• Practice responsible firecraft or use stoves
• Practice responsible campcraft skills
• Practise good camp and travel etiquette
• Keep pets under control
• Keep noise to a minimum

Leave No Trace #7 – Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Some considerations:

1. Keeping campsite small, unobtrusive, clean.
2. Highlining and stock management.
3. Practicing responsible firecraft, outdoor cooking, bear aware practices, keeping noise down.
4. Low visibility, polite, considerate, helpful to other visitors.
5. More experienced members mentoring and guiding less experienced members.
6. If in a group, all should be working towards all 7 of the LNT Principles.

Why wouldn’t I do this?