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Leave No Trace Ethics
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Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
I'm confused on 06/16/2009 20:32:59 MDT Print View

Should I leave my @$$hole at home, or my toilet paper... TELL ME WHAT TO DO!

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Toilet Paper Flame War part XXIV on 06/16/2009 21:08:23 MDT Print View

So if you are headed somewhere where digging a cathole is not possible and you refuse to carry out your poo, what do you do?

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
LNT on 06/16/2009 21:29:29 MDT Print View

On some mountains you must haul out ALL waste. It ain’t much fun, let me tell you.

I try to be LNT but I bury my dumps on backpacking trips (as opposed to the afore mentioned mountaineering trips). I suppose that the “true zealots” should be packing it out, and their liquid waste too. All that sodium and minerals will mess up the pH balance in the soil, right? It undoubtedly attracts animals to the salt deposits.

Plus I guess they can’t rinse the sweat off at the end of a hard day’s hiking. Maybe ShamWow! Can make a bath mat for LNT hikers to rinse off over…

Everything in moderation.

Jim Yancey
(jimyancey) - F

Locale: Missouri
LNT and TP on 06/16/2009 21:34:32 MDT Print View

As much as I hate to join in this fray, my 2c is that I practice LNT as warranted by the place and terrain I'm in. In much of my local National Forest there are grazing cattle. I don't worry too much about leaving a shallowly-buried deposit along with post-poo peed-on TP in the hole. I agree with Tom about the extra nitrogen in urine helping the paper to rapidly decompose. In more pristine or sensitive areas, I usually carry out my TP. It's really not that bad, so long as it's well sealed in double ziplocs and/or mylar oven bags. In super-sensitive areas (e.g. Mt. Rainier, etc.) I have carried out my poo. And in ultra-sesitive areas (e.g. Lechuguilla Cave in Carlsbad Caverns NP) I have even carried out my pee!

As is the answer to so many of these controversial issues, "It depends..." Hmmm... come to think about it, maybe that IS the answer... DependsTM!


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: LNT on 06/16/2009 21:43:25 MDT Print View

I find a lot of this fuss about 'Leave No Trace' amusing. Just how can you practice LNT when you are on a man-made track?

Given the numbers of other non-human animals, both herbivore and carnivore, sharing the terrain, I suggest that the environment in most cases is quite used to dealing with scats. Any small nutrient-loadings will be gone in a few days (human or other animal). (OK, some of the canyons etc need special care - I agree.)

We don't actually use 'LNT' as a concept in Australia, for that and other reasons. Instead we promote MIB: Minimal Impact Bushwalking. Even so, tracks and camp-fire rings would be a thousand times more visible.


Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
Re: LNT and TP on 06/16/2009 21:46:12 MDT Print View

Jim, I think you have probably provided the most common sense approach to this discussion. Your well rounded approach to things shows wisdom. From the extreme of always to the extreme of never, you have brought a cool middle ground.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: LNT and TP on 06/16/2009 22:09:33 MDT Print View

I guess it depends on where you hike and whatnot. But, believe it or not, I was actually under the impression that everyone carried out their TP...I honestly had no idea that it was acceptable to bury it.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
Hey Nate - on 06/16/2009 22:10:33 MDT Print View

pls practice LNT on my front porch!

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Please on 06/16/2009 22:57:27 MDT Print View


I will next time, promise...

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/17/2009 00:12:38 MDT Print View

Alright I guess I started this so let me try and clarify what my argument is.

Im making a purely philosophical argument here. Yes, its semantics but I think of the good kind.
Are we really this day and age going to pretend that words have no meaning? That they don't convey a certain world view and attitude? This is really the crux of my dislike twords "LEAVE NO TRACE"

Yes as I thought I had said, the LNT guidelines as officially written seem totally reasonable I have no qualms with them. But as someone has pointed out even the LNT guidelines need to be seen in context of the environment you wish to enter. For instance I would not bring toilet paper into those few special fragile areas. I carried a Wag -bag up Mt Whitney. No problem.
I don't think I made a strawman out of LNT ,Though saying the alternative is raping the land and being inconsiderate kinda is.. What I said was that I believe the term "LEAVE NO TRACE" -ENCOURAGES- extremism. Because its an absolute statement.
There is no room for debate or discussion it is NO trace, period. ( Lynn seems to understand what I saying)
I know its a bit of figurative speech, but interpreting figurative speech in a literal way seems to be a disease today- everybody does it. So Im saying we have to be careful about what we say. LNT the term if taken this way says that Im already doing something wrong as soon as I get out of bed and decide to travel to the wilderness- already I have original sin Im guilty I know I cant live breath and travel without leaving a trace. But I CAN go to the wilderness and minimize my impact or keep my impact positive. Now Im feeling good. Im one of natures children and Im participating in life and it is good. Yes I have guidelines that the Forest service recommends and even restrictions and its totally doable all I have to do is minimize my impacts and/or improve the state our land is in.
What Im saying in essence is that I feel the words Leave No Trace are counter to my world view, my religion. I am nature, nature is me I belong there I have an impact -all life does it is a good thing. Whether that impact is positive or negative is up to us. Come to the wilderness, come home and leave a trace.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 06/17/2009 00:35:32 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 05/17/2015 22:31:25 MDT.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: heart. on 06/17/2009 02:37:50 MDT Print View

to me it is not needless.
I don't want to instill a sense of self loathing and alienation into future generations.

Derek Goffin

Locale: North of England
Ethics of leave no trace on 06/17/2009 04:11:59 MDT Print View

In Britain it is starting to be said that upland peat bog is one of our most important resources because it is a habitat that has over centuries stored up more Carbon per hectare than rain forest. If we drain peat bog it starts oxidizing and produces even more greenhouse gases than we do already. This has happened because vegetation has been stopped from biodegrading by waterlogging.
If at home I compost my apple core it rots and produces CO2.
Perhaps the best thing I can do is go up to the peat bog when I want to eat an apple and bury the core in the peat!

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/17/2009 10:26:43 MDT Print View

Brian, I agree with your semantical observations. As you said, words mean things (otherwise how do we communicate?) and the big issue here, (besides TP) is that there seems to be multiple definitions of LNT. A lot of times in debates like this, people are actually talking about the same thing (they agree) but they're 'speaking different languages' so to speak.

I personally favor your 'minimal' impact, as 'No' does leave the door open to more zealous interpretations. As well as being unrealistic

Also, I made an analogy above between zealous LNT'ers and land-exploiters. If that's what you were referring to here

Though saying the alternative is raping the land and being inconsiderate kinda is..

What I was trying to do was make a point similar to the one you're making in the last paragraph. Humans are part of the natural world just like any other animal, and I think that zealous LNT'ers unfortunately see humans as something apart from nature, just like the people who see earth as something for humans to exploit. We have to be conscious of our actions because we have the capacity to wreak havoc in the way no other animal does, but we still have are part of it all. We forget that at our own peril.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/17/2009 14:07:27 MDT Print View

I love threads like this, that can interweave concepts of holistic human existence, spirituality and nuero-linguistic programming, all in the context of toilet paper!

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/17/2009 14:20:02 MDT Print View

Zen and the art of Toilet Paper

Edited by debiant on 06/17/2009 14:20:48 MDT.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/17/2009 15:02:39 MDT Print View

What you said Lynn. Also, I have no problem with with the title LNT, because I tacitly understand that it is not an unequivical No and is probably thus a bad choice of a word and not as descriptive as it could be. I also understand that it arose to counter the woodscrafts practices that dominated the preceeding decades, practices that included chopping down trees at every campsite, leaving piles of garbage, ditching tents, etc...that's the trace that is referred to.

Also, I have no problem in general with the word No as I don't associate it with "The Man" and a consequent negative reaction. The concrete sequentials that muddy these shallow waters comprise a small percentage of the population and would get it all balled up anyway because they lack the ability to coalesce the title (LNT) with the practice. If Minimal were substituted for No, these people's thinking would go something like this: "Well, I was going to chop down three trees for my campsite, but I'll minimize my impact and chop down only one."

I like the current USFS practice in my area in which a small sign posted at the trailhead says: "Pack It In, Pack It Out". No mention of LNT. For most of the general population the rest more or less falls into place.

Edited by TarasBulba on 06/17/2009 15:04:31 MDT.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 06/17/2009 15:13:56 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 05/17/2015 22:30:50 MDT.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 06/17/2009 15:19:50 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 05/17/2015 22:30:11 MDT.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
well... on 06/17/2009 16:37:53 MDT Print View

If all LNT amounted to was that people didn't litter and didn't tear up the woods where they make camp, that would be great. Unfortunately, this seemingly modest ideal is nowhere near reality in many places. What's the point of arguing about TP when Billy Bob, Mary Jo, Jimmy Dean, and their 10 chilluns are just going to drive their 4-wheelers in to your favorite camping site and turn it into a shooting range, leaving one of their 4-wheelers, the target at which they were shooting, there to rust, since after all, everybody knows that a shot-up 4-wheeler don't drive good 'nemore. The only places I have seen toilet paper, actually SEEN it, has been in desert environments, in various canyons in AZ, near the most heavily used camping sites in those canyons.

I think the only thing I'd actually preach to backpackers about (as I step up onto my soapbox) is leaving stone fire rings at your campsite. They do nothing but attract all types of campers to that exact same campsite year-after-year. Glass, metal, food, and upholstery litter accumulates (yes upholstery.. I have no idea how or why they get those couch cushions into 9,000' alpine meadows, but they can and do); the sticks and rotting logs on the forest floor providing habitat for insects and other animals decreases as people burn it up, thus altering the ecosystem; trees get damaged as campers carve their names in them, hang things from them, tear branches off of them for firewood, and even cut them down to burn. Also, if the campsite happens to be at a scenic site (of course they usually are), then all that will happen is the scenic site will gradually get more and more trashed.

Of course, all these things happen at all campsites anyway when certain people go camping, but by leaving a fire ring, you just invited them all to camp at the same spot for years and years to come. Just scatter your fire rings in the morning. It's literally no harder than that. Takes 20 seconds.

Edited by artsandt on 06/17/2009 17:12:17 MDT.