Leave No Trace

We are passionate about outdoor recreation, a passion that has developed as a direct result of our experiences in nature. We believe that getting out and experiencing nature--and in doing so developing a more reciprocal relationship with it--is  part of the solution to our environmental woes. We also realize that too many people getting out into nature, and doing so irresponsibly, is sometimes part of the problem. There is truly nothing worse than trying to enjoy a beautiful forest, but being unable to look down because the trail is girdled by trash and human turds. Please don't be one of the people that ruins the experience for others, and damages the ecosystem in the process. 

Get to know the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace, to spare the few remaining wild and sacred places from a fate like this: 

Here are the principles, with definitions and examples below: 

  1.  Plan Ahead and Prepare

  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  4. Leave What You Find

  5. Minimize Campfire Impact

  6. Respect Wildlife

  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Number 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare

This is what this website is for, to help you feel confident enough to go out on your own and not burn the forest down. This is self-explanatory--if you don't know, don't go. How will you get water? Bring a re-usable bottle and a way to purify water you find on the trail. How will you get rid of your trash? Hopefully you have a backpack to carry it in. Where are you going to go? If you have planned it out, then you won't end up bushwacking through the forest tramping on endangered fungi. What if you suddenly have to poop, but you didn't bring a shovel or  a trash bag for your toilet paper?


Knowing what to bring, where to go, what your own limits are (i.e. don't try to climb Haba snow mountain if you've never used crampons) will ensure you leave as small of an impact as possible. And, most importantly, you will stay safe. The biggest reason to plan ahead and prepare is simply to make sure you get back home. 

Number 2: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

The occasional bushwack up an off-trail ridgeline or down a pristine riverbed sometimes amplifies your experience in nature. But not when the 200 people behind you decide "that looks nice" and make a brand new trail, killing all of the vegetation and defeating the purpose of the experience in the first place. The general rule of thumb is to hike on and camp in the most hiked-on and camped-in places. That way we localize our impact to the already trafficked areas. Here are some other good practices: 

  • Camp 200 feet away from water sources. 

  • If the trail is narrow, walk single file to avoid widening it.

  • Avoid walking on fragile surfaces or vegetation (go for dirt, sand, rocks, or snow). 

  • If a place is "pristine" (no trails or campsites), then throw all this out the window and completely avoid places where it looks like other people have been, to avoid "starting" an impacted area. 

Number 3: Dispose of Waste Properly

This is perhaps the simplest principle to follow, but the one that is most often ignored. It also leaves the most visible scar on the landscape, and is the easiest one to educate others on--don't be afraid to ask other people to pick up their trash. To put it very simply, if you PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT. A couple other things below:

  • It's fine to go poop in the woods, but do the following:

    • Bury it in a six-inch-deep hole, and cover it back up. 

    • Put a little "X" over it with sticks.

    • Carry out your toilet paper if you use it (I know, ew, but who cares). 

    • 200 feet away from water sources.

  • Don't litter orange peels or other "biodegradable" waste. It seems like its fine, but they usually don't decompose properly, introduce harmful bacteria/pesticides, aren't native to the area, and also look bad.

  • If there are trash cans on the trail, its still better to carry it out. Otherwise they get misused, they're never emptied, or overflow (like the picture). 

  • When washing dishes, use as little soap as possible (dirt is a good substitute), and bury your "grey water" in a whole away from the water so it gets filtered by the soil. 


Number 4: Leave What You Find

This one is also easy to follow, but is also frequently broken. Animal bones, beautiful rocks, or misshapen sticks can make cool souvenirs, but taking them not only removes them from an ecosystem that likely would have made use of it, but deprives everyone else from stumbling upon that same cool thing. So if you see something you like, just take a picture of it, don't take it. Except for trash, pick that shit up. 

Also, don't build any permanent or semi-permanent structures or otherwise alter the landscape in any way. 


Number 5: Minimize Campfire Impacts

Campfires, for many people, are one of the most important parts of camping. But they can also be very destructive. Camping stoves are much lower impact, and they burn your marshmallows just as well. However, if you choose to have a campfire, follow these guidelines: 

  • Use a designated fire ring. If that doesn't exist, use a place where fires have been made before, and build a small ring around it. 

  • Only collect dead or downed wood. Don't rip limbs off trees. 

  • Especially when there is no designated fire-ring, build a fire only for emergencies.

  • In the above scenario, try and use mostly smaller wood, and burn it down completely to ash. Spread or bury the ashes when you're done. Make it look like you weren't there.

Number 6: Respect Wildlife

Trust me, I want to be best friends with every animal I see. I could try and do this by feeding them treats, but out of respect for them, I keep my distance. It's hard. I want to cuddle. But being around humans is generally not good for animals--they can become sick, habituated to our presence, and it can alter their natural patterns of behavior (especially when they are fed). No matter how much it seems like that squirrel needs that salty peanut, I promise you it is better off without it.  


Number 7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Most people are out hiking or camping for more or less the same reason--they are enjoying nature. An off-leash dog running full speed towards you, someone blasting their music down the trail, or a stranger curiously walking through your camp and peaking in your tent can negatively impact that experience. In China, fellow hikers often outnumber trees, so this is especially important. "Treat others how they want to be treated" is a pretty good mantra for this. Even if you enjoy listening to music while outside (as I do), it's better to assume that other people don't.