Leave No Trace

For all kinds of travelers, it is a must to be acquainted with the 7 Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles. For some travelers, LNT has become a lifestyle. The LNT program teaches us and reminds us of the importance of responsible outdoor recreation. Those who observe the LNT principles not only appreciate, but respect public recreational places and fellow tourists. I am so lucky to have learned about this through the UP Baguio Mountaineers.

Following these principles may seem unimportant at first, but trust me; it’s worth the effort. Whether five or fifty or a hundred tourists who practice LNT gather in one area, the effect is apparent.

Below are the 7 Leave No Trace Principles from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

Osmeña Peak © A Wandering Cat

Signboard at Osmeña Peak c/o Sugbo Outdoor Club © A Wandering Cat

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
Basic Mountaineering Course © UP Baguio Mountaineers / A Wandering Cat

Basic Mountaineering Course © UP Baguio Mountaineers / A Wandering Cat

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
  • In popular areas:
    • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
    • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
    • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
  • In pristine areas:
    • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
    • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
Osmeña Peak © A Wandering Cat

Osmeña Peak © A Wandering Cat

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
Mt. Sto. Tomas © A Wandering Cat

Mt. Sto. Tomas © A Wandering Cat

4. Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
Mt. Ugo © A Wandering Cat

Mt. Ugo © A Wandering Cat

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
Osmeña Peak © A Wandering Cat

Osmeña Peak © A Wandering Cat

6. Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
Mt. Andolor © A Wandering Cat

Mt. Andolor © Reimon Gutierriez / A Wandering Cat

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
Mt. Ugo © A Wandering Cat

Mt. Ugo © A Wandering Cat

The UP Baguio Mountaineers semi-annually gives a Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) lecture for free. The lecture includes a comprehensive explanation of the 7 Leave No Trace Principles. You may contact them directly regarding the schedule.

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