Hey Everyone! Hope you are doing fine this week. This week I want to talk about all of the new people that have started to go into the woods since the Pandemic has come. Our National and State Parks and National Forrest are seeing a large increase of people visiting our nations greatest resources. I think that it is great that people are finding out about our great parks and forest that we enjoy. But with more people more stress to the environment that we are putting on this valuable resource. One of the biggest impacts is the trash and litter that is being brought into the parks and national forest . I don't really know why people do this. We all know how trash looks on our public roads. Travel down any road in America and you can see trash everywhere. And its ugly. No one wants to see other peoples trash thrown all about. We don't like it in our cities and do not want to see it in our wilderness. The litter comes in all sizes from candy wrappers and water bottles left on the ground to burning trash in fire rings at campsites to leaving toilet paper and human waste where it shouldn't be. Yes I said it Poop! I'm sure most of this trash and bad behavior is due to being new to the wilderness and just not knowing. Not knowing that someone isn't paid to pick up your trash. Park Rangers are not paid to pick up behind you and you should dispose of the trash in a approved container. Like putting it in a trash can and not the ground. If you have trash you should Pack it out until you get to an approved waste disposal container to put it in. If you're at a campsite you shouldn't burn your trash because all of the plastic or foil that is not paper will not burn away and will be left for others to see and animals to ingest. Pack out your trash. Please remember that coming to these places is a privilege that we have and we want to save it for others that come after us not to just get the quick Instagram pic and leave. Okay, rant over let's talk about what you should do in the backcountry and trails to have a great time and leave the beauty for someone else to see.
Pack it in Pack it out. Take only photographs and memories and leave only footprints. These are just two of many sayings that can be used to describe how we should act in the backcountry and trails. Trash, Trash that is taken into a park or forest should be taken out. We all like snacks and goodies while hiking but please put your trash in a trash bag and haul it out. Your pack won't be heaver it will be lighter because you've eaten what the wrapper covered. When you get to an approved waste disposal container like a trash can or recycle bin then you can put it in its proper place. If you hike into a camp and have a camp fire in a approved fire ring. Don't burn trash. Haul it out. Just like before your pack won't be heaver it will be lighter. If you burn your trash there is always some left behind and after you leave some animal will come behind you and eat whatever you have left. So Please pack it out if your brought it in. For using the bathroom in the woods first use and out house or privy if there is one available. If there is not one available go at least 200 ft from the trail or water source or camp site. Dig a cat hole approximately 6-8 inches deep, do your business in the hole and cover your deposit and soiled toilet paper with the dirt from the hole and cover with natural debris that is around like leaves pine needles. Some parks and recreation areas do not want you to bury your toilet paper because the environment is not suited to quickly decompose the toilet paper or human traffic is too high and they will want you to haul out your dirty toilet paper. You can put in double bagged Zip lock bags and dispose of in a proper waste container. Some places that have fragile environment may want you to take the toilet paper and poop out and they will usually provide the bags to do it into. These bags are called WAG bags (Waste Alleviation and Gelling) They can used 3 or4 times and are puncture resistant double bagged. Mount Whitney the tallest mountain in the contiguous lower 48 is a very popular and dry rocky place and they issue WAG bags at the foot of the mountain for you to take with you. This may seem very extreme to those that haven't been in the woods before. But high traffic and uninformed people can cause havoc on the environment. I have been on the AT (Appalachian trail) in the Smokey Mountain park during the big bubble of through hikers and have seen the fields of toilet paper flowers from people who supposedly know what to do in the back country and didn't because they didn't dig their holes deep enough. It is an unsightly scene and very un-sanitary. Max Patch is another place that has been ruined by people who don't know. This is a beautiful bald along the AT in North Carolina in Pisgah National Forrest. On this blog I have shared some photo's that I got off of the internet to show what happens when people overcrowd a place and don't know the rules of how to act. They actually had to close Max Patch to campers because they were destroying the area.
What is the whole point of this blog? Too vent a little, and hopefully to inform folks that are new to the back country and how to conduct themselves to protect these great resources that we have for us and the future generations. So Please share this info with others and take a grocery bag with you on your next hike to pick up some trash you may see along the way. And of course dispose of it properly. Until next week Get Outside!