Leave No Trace

LNT 7 - PiiPio

Hello All -

Finally...we get to one of the most intuitively obvious principles of all!

Pack It In, Pack It Out

I am going to start out with a flat statement and, for the sake of brevity, I am not going to spend much time supporting it. I have been involved in (listened to, started, participated in, got mad and walked out of, learned from, etc.) a LOT of debate surrounding this statement...and it has always held up in the long run. Let's see how it does on this list. The statement goes as follows:


There is nothing...absolutely nothing...that we can bring

into and leave in the backcountry that is good for the backcountry.

Everything...absolutely everything...always somehow winds up

violating Aldo Leopold's credo ("LNT 4- How?") in some way.



Hooboy...how's that for letting you know where I stand <g>. If you can step up to accepting this statement, it certainly makes our choices obvious...if we bring it in, we either remove it or we WILL do some level of damage to the backcountry.

Remember the context...nothing we do is unique...whatever we do has probably been done MANY times in the past and will most likely be done MANY times in the future. We are not talking about me bringing in and leaving one teabag here...we are talking about me, and you, and you, and you (and on and on...) each leaving a teabag (or two...or ten). How many orphan teabags does it take for it to become obvious (to even the most obtuse of us <g>) that all these teabags ARE somehow damaging the ecosystem they were dumped in?

And...teabags are one of the nicer things that get left behind <g>.

I like to tell my Scouts:

If we are big enough, strong enough, tough enough, mean enough, and had room enough to pack it in...then we dadgum sure are big enough, strong enough, tough enough, mean enough, and have room enough to pack it back out!

It didn't take the kids long to add "and dumb enough" to the left side of the above equation <VBG>. We do a LOT of planning in an effort to keep that particular brand of dumbness down to reasonable levels. If "Pack It In, Pack It Out" doesn't do anything else for us, it certainly rubs our noses in the useless stuff that we don't need to be hauling around in the first place <g>.

If we try to burn it, the fire itself becomes a significant ecological problem (more on this later). If we try to bury it, a shallow hole is quickly dug up by critters and a big deep hole becomes a significant ecological problem in itself. If we toss it into the water, we wind up polluting our water supply (happens a lot faster than on land!). If we try to scatter trash (pollution by dilution!), the downside is obvious. If we try to scatter garbage, we either wind up with a lot of chunks of stinking rotten garbage in the woods or we disrupt the local critters feeding patterns (doing them no favors...they become habituated to coming to humans for food, resulting in critters that can't forage for themselves when humans leave and/or nuisance-critters that too often have to be trapped or killed by the managing agency folks <f>).

There ARE some things that are really obnoxious to pack back out (human waste, dish/bath water, dead horse, etc.). There ARE some ways to at least help minimize the damage caused by leaving them behind (see the next message).

But...let there be no doubt...we WILL be doing SOME level of damage if we don't pack everything, including even this most obnoxious stuff, out to the more robust disposal facilities we have at home!

The next message covers the LNT principle: "Properly Dispose of What You Can't Pack Out"

Meet you at "LNT 8- Wimp-out!

- Charlie II  AT (MEGA'93)
             PCT (Mex@Can'95)
         Chipping away at the CDT

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