Leave No Trace

Big Wild Adventures strives to Leave No Trace of its passage through the wilds. Whether we are backpacking in Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Montana, or hiking in Wyoming mountains such as the Grand Tetons or Absarokas, we strive to leave the wilderness in the same condition — or better — than we found it! How do we do this, you might ask? Mostly, it’s by simply employing the 3 C’s of backcountry conservation: Concern, Cleanliness and Common Sense.

Concern is the most obvious: if you don’t care, then please stay home. If you do care about keeping wilderness wild, then please read on. Cleanliness is also pretty obvious. No littering is allowed under any circumstance. Although most backcountry users are pretty careful, there are always a few who are careless. When the situation arises, we clean up the mess left by others, such as burning or packing out their trash and unburned foil residue from fire pits. When it comes to human waste,  in general folks should defecate at least 100 feet from water; then bury it well and completely reclaim the site. There are exceptions to this process that your guide will explain, if appropriate. In addition, don’t pee on the stream-bank. And with campfires, utilize small and dead chunks of firewood only. Keep the fire small, no larger than what’s needed for warmth and cooking.  If building a fire on unaltered ground, completely reclaim the site (and squelch the fire well!) before you leave. Big Wild guides are experts at reclamation!

Common sense is, well, just what it says. Walk and generally go lightly on the land. Keep the decibel level down. Please don’t trench around your tent. Camp on dry well-drained solid ground. Minimize trips to the creek by carrying a large water bladder for camp use. Don’t walk through fragile wet areas if you can avoid them. On the trail, try to stay single file, and when necessary walk way around saturated areas rather than right next to them so you don’t begin to create a parallel trail. Never cut switchbacks because that, too, creates new trails that quickly erode. And when we have a group hiking off-trail, we’ll spread out when crossing fragile meadows or wetlands instead of walking single file, again, so we don’t create another trail. No two situations are similar, and some imaginative variations are often required, so that’s where common sense is essential. If you are always thinking “how can I minimize my impact”, you’ll be way ahead of the curve.  And if everyone did that, our wilderness lands would be in better shape. Of course, do your best to minimize disturbance to wildlife. Critters nowadays have enough human-caused challenges without our adding to their woes. Give them space! That’s what telephoto lenses and binoculars are for.

When you sign up for a Big Wild Adventure, perhaps a Utah backpacking adventure or one in the Alaskan Arctic, Howie and Marilyn will send you information on what to bring and also some very basic information on how to minimize your impacts on the wilderness. Please read and consider this material, and then watch and participate with our guide. There’s no better way to learn than by doing, and there’s no better situation for practicing minimum impact camping than on one of our adventures into the Big Wilds of the magnificent western Wilderness!

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