‘Leave No Trace’ is the law of the land

A sign says "Leave No Trace" on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine.

A sign says "Leave No Trace" on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine.

You’ve hiked miles into the backcountry and gone up countless feet in elevation. You’re almost to the beautiful waterfall you’ve been looking forward to — the climax of the trip. The euphoria that comes from the hard work and exercise sets in for a great feeling. But there’s one thing that takes away this good feeling: The trash that someone else left behind.

Unfortunately, some visitors don’t appreciate the natural beauty that exists.

Leave No Trace has been the common outdoor phrase, and unwritten law, for a long time. It’s probably the second most common outdoors phrase besides Smokey Bear’s “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.”

Trash left behind should irk every outdoor enthusiast. People come to get away from that stuff. It’s hard to enjoy the beauty and serenity of nature when there’s something unnatural clouding your vision.

Leave No Trace also applies to campfires. It’s important to not burn trash. It’s appropriate to clean out the fire pit if there’s metal left behind.

Staying on established trails also goes along with the Leave No Trace policy. Foot traffic causes erosion and kills plants. It’s responsible to not take shortcuts and stay off plants. Living up to these standards will keep the wild natural and preserve them for future generations.

People also get confused about what can be left behind. Really, there’s nothing that should be left behind. If you were able to bring it in, there’s no reason you can’t pack it out. People should prepare beforehand and bring a trash bag if necessary.

Oftentimes, people will discard orange or banana peels. While the person who left this there might be thinking this material will decompose, they may not realize it’s still wrong to do. Sure it will disappear with enough time, but in the meantime, other hikers will come across this mess and take away from the serene landscape they came to enjoy. Picking up the orange peels is easy and, they’re not going to make your backpack messy. They give off a pleasant aroma. If you have a wrapper with melted chocolate or banana peel or something messy you’re scared to get your outdoors gear a little dirty, then you should already have a garbage bag or something to put it in.

Besides cleaning up after yourself, it also helps to clean up discarded items left by others. It’s never fun cleaning up after someone else, but if you don’t do it, who else will? Volunteers maintain most trails. No one is getting paid to clean up after anyone. It’s up to ourselves to make the world a better place. As a true nature lover, it’s difficult walking past a piece of trash without picking it up. There could be karma involved for picking up something or ignoring it. Your conscious should also make you feel like you did a good deed for doing something you didn’t have to do.

If we all could respect nature and our surroundings, both deep in the woods and in our home communities, the world would be a better and prettier place.

Kyler Klix is a designer and contributor at the Nevada Appeal. If you’d like to talk about nature or upcoming concerts, email him at kklix@swiftcom.com


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