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Lisa Maloney

Why Hikers Should "Leave No Trace"

By July 25, 2012

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Why Leave No Trace matters for hikersI often hike to get away from the issues of city life -- traffic noise, crowds, trash, and so on. So it was a real crusher to visit Reflections Lake -- one of my favorite short Alaskan trails in the whole, wide world -- only to find a pile of human poop right there in the open beside the trail.

That's right -- human feces. Obviously whoever left it there hadn't read Leave No Trace's core principle #3: "Dispose of Waste Properly." And, just as obviously, they didn't give a darn about what other passers-by might think of what they'd done.

This isn't a knock on Reflections Lake -- it's a beautiful place that's been under the loving stewardship of Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats for years now. Unfortunately I've run into the same sort of thing at other trails, too -- human waste, general trash, scorch marks from poorly placed fires, and so on.

Check out the trash and scorch marks (just behind the bench) in the photo: I found those beside another one of my favorite Alaskan trails, Winner Creek. Bottles of various types, candy wrappers, and toilet paper are other common sightings in some of the more heavily traveled areas.

I know most of the trail users up here -- actually, everywhere -- hike responsibly and respectfully. It's just the few bad apples that foul the collective nest for everybody. I guess all we can really do is educate ourselves, and our friends, about how not to leave piles of trash everywhere we go.

What's the craziest thing you've found in the woods?

Photo © Lisa Maloney


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