Treading Lightly: Leave No Trace Ethics to Remember When Heading Into Wild Spaces

Leave no trace camping ethics. Camper on shoreline.

Not that we’re counting or anything, but we’ve noticed a huge increase of visitors to our little corner of the island this year! The you-know-what pandemic has affected our lives in so many ways, and maybe, just maybe, this is one of the upsides: we’re all exploring and appreciating our backyards, just a little bit more. We’ve seen campsites sold out in the park repeatedly, and far more visitors at our favourite spots like Myra Falls, Flower Ridge, and Lupin Falls. This is a wonderful thing! Nothing makes our little lodgie hearts swell more than seeing people flock to the natural world to make connections with nature and each other. 

With so much more activity in the park, it’s a great time to review Leave No Trace ethics! Or LNT, as the cool kids like to call it. 

What is the Leave No Trace (LNT) ethic?

Just like it sounds, LNT is all about those ninja skills, leaving a shared wild space so pristine that when the next visitor comes, they have no idea you were there! It’s a concept we teach in all our programs at the lodge, from grade 7 camping trips, all the way up to the adult COLT semester program. It’s a set of outdoor skills that applies to everything from how we walk and travel through the wilderness, to what the heck to do with our coffee grounds when we’re camping overnight. 

The small actions of many can have huge consequences for our wild places: we’ve all had the disappointing experience of showing up to a campsite and seeing bottles or cans, food wrappers, or even toilet paper left behind (eww). Conversely, we’ve all shown up to a campsite or summit so breathtaking and untouched that we feel like we’re the first person to have ever visited (yay!) 

Though the Leave No Trace ethic is taught in outdoor education communities across the globe, the fine folks at Leave No Trace Canada have a great breakdown, which we’ve used to help us create this article (thanks folks!) To learn more, check them out, or ask us! Everyone has a slightly different take on how they Leave No Trace, but here are some key principles that professionals across the industry tend to agree on.

 

Leave No Trace Basics:

  • Pack it in, pack it out: This goes for everything! Yes, everything! If you don’t want to pack it out- don’t pack it in!
  • Take nothing but pictures: Pet rocks are delightful friends while on trip, leave them behind with their rocky friends when you go
  • Travel on existing trails and use established campsites and firepits: Strathcona Park has so many beautiful trails and campsites to choose from. Using these reduces our impact greatly. 
  • Respect and protect wildlife: Give our furry friends their distance. Be sure to store your “smellies” securely- this might mean building a bear hang and using an animal proof canister for overnight food storage. Keep an eye on your pets at all times, or leave them at home

 

There are so many ways to do Leave No Trace correctly, and this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a great starting point for learning and for jogging our memories. With so many more folks out in the park, this is a great time to double down on our LNT skills. Get creative and have fun enjoying our wild spaces! Do you have a favourite leave no trace trick or principle? Drop us a comment below and let us know 🙂