Hot answers tagged

43

It's true that paper tissues biodegrade relatively quickly: this U.S. Bureau of Land Management page estimates 2-4 weeks. However, as the same page notes, Though most trash and litter in the backcountry is not significant in terms of the long term ecological health of an area, it does rank high as a problem in the minds of many backcountry visitors. ...


30

In more temperate climates (forests, jungles, etc.) burying feces is preferred as it will be broken up by microbes in the soil while being somewhat protected from the environment. Plant growth in these areas is also rapid enough that cut roots are generally a non-issue. (I'm assuming you aren't hacking through larger roots.) In general the warmer the ...


22

Should I understand a water source to mean a spring/well, or any place where hikers may collect water (streams, lakes, etc.)? Yes. Any source of water - no matter how large or small - should be avoided when choosing a camp site. 100 meters is just a guideline, 200 meters is better. 200 meters and out of sight is great. The reasons are several-fold: ...


22

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). It's naturally occurring, and to get a level of toxicity to animals you would need to get to 450mg per liter. Unless you're operating a mine or using literally tons of the stuff, it's quite safe and you'll never get near that. From a 2008 USGS study: Chronic toxicity was observed at concentrations that ranged from 450 ...


20

There are no exceptions to leave no trace. Either you leave a trace, or you do not, the whole point of leave no trace ethics is to make as small an impact on the environment as possible, this means visually as well as ecologically. Tissues break down, but the proper method of disposing them would be to bury them in a fox hole. however, if you're digging a ...


19

Some things to remember when stealth camping: Never camp or enter property marked with Private or No Trespassing. Never camp behind a gate or fence - you could get locked in. Depending on the location, it could be a while before someone comes along to let you out. Camoflauge yourself. Cover your bike reflectors and other reflective surfaces. Cover your ...


19

Throwing a dead body down a ravine in a rugged mountain area is a morally blameless act, much like throwing your biodegradable orange peel into a bush. Crows and coyotes will rapidly take care of it, leaving only disassembled bones, which they'll scatter. Just make sure to remove all the nonbiodegradable stuff, like clothing, credit cards, and so on. This ...


18

When it's unsuitable for removal by your group, contact the relevant authority for that land and let them know the type of litter and its location (pictures and GPS coordinates are helpful). For example, in cases of extreme littering, U.S. federal land management agencies will sometimes organize major cleanup efforts to pack out trash with mules or even a ...


17

Even for "multi-week" trips, brushing with water alone is not going to compromise your tooth health. The abrasive action of the brush does most of the work, and missing the flouride hit for a few days won't affect your teeth in the least. Plus, it saves weight. So, the best LNT option: don't use it. If you MUST use toothpaste (or an alternative), try a few ...


16

Without knowing the numbers using it, the signs are absolutely acceptable. The forest floor is very fragile, and although one foot print might not make a noticeable difference to most people (Having tracking training for SAR, I see the damage one person makes), 10 people will leave obvious damage, and 50 a trail. The problem is people walk off the main trail ...


15

The main reason it's buried is to keep it from washing into water supplies. The ground provides natural filtration, where surface waste is fully exposed to the elements and can flow along the surface until it reaches a stream or pond. Yes, digging holes might be bad for one plant, but it's a whole lot better than polluting a water supply that animals (or ...


15

This is what I do: I always have extra carry-bags to keep the trash in. Depending upon what my plans is, suppose if I am coming around the same way back home, I usually pickup everything which shouldn't be out there and place the bag at place wherein it possibly will not be fiddled with. On my way back home, when I know I don't have an extra bag to ...


13

When washing in the backcountry there are some techniques and considerations that will benefit yourself and the pristine wilderness you are traveling within. Don't ever wash near a water source, you are contaminating it for yourself, everyone else, and the animals that drink from it. 1. Always carry water at least 500 feet away from: The source of the ...


13

I think you have the right idea. Leave No Trace principles (and wilderness permit regulations in many areas) dictate that washing be done at least 100 feet from camp, trail, or stream. If there's some soil nearby that would be the best spot, because there'll be higher activity from decomposing organisms there which will break down any tiny bits of food you ...


12

I'm afraid studiohack's advices are too cautious to be useful in practice. For example in Spain or Austria, almost every piece of land is private and/or behind fence, so you'd have to sleep on the track then. My personal experience (mostly from Europe; please follow here) is that it's not so hot. If you don't provoke the land owners, they are mostly very ...


12

This is a classic Leave-no-trace (LNT) case study. If the site you are considering is in a pristine wilderness area, and it is not a designated campsite, you should locate your campsite away from the impacted area to allow it to regrow. However if the site is in a popular area, and will be used often (10+) times per year by anyone else, you should ...


12

I think this largely depends on the specific area you are traveling in. My approach is to always minimize campfires in the backcountry as a general rule. That being said, if I am in an abundant backcountry environment, where there is an already well made fire ring, I have no qualms making an occasional fire from dead, down, dry, and less than wrist size ...


12

You can just leave whatever parts you don't eat for the scavengers. Seriously, this is the outdoors, not Disney: critters have died, from time to time, and worms have eaten them* - which is why the woods are not cluttered with corpses. "...we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but ...


12

If the item is small enough to move, but too large to easily carry out. Organize the junk so that it is stacked as inoffensively as practical, but remains easily accessible. Don't hide it or drop it into a ravine, you want to make it easier to remove not harder. Contact the landowner or manager. This might be a park ranger, corporation or private land ...


11

Like most activities, campfires aren't simply ethical or unethical. There are only a few things in this world that are always ethical or always unethical. Rather, there are ethical and unethical ways to behave. I don't expect a campsite to look exactly like the land around it - I understand there will be artificial clearings in the trees, perhaps a sign ...


11

I've hiked all over the USA and the general rule is that on public land, you can hike anywhere you want, unless there are specific rules for a given sensitive area. Generally these rules are posted at least at the trailhead or in any wilderness permit you get. The one place where there aren't posted signs, but that you should "STAY ON THE TRAIL" is making ...


10

There is really two different answers, one if you are dealing with glacial ice, and one for seasonal snow. For seasonal snow and for solids, your best bet is to bring biodegradable bags, pack your waste in as deep a hole as you can manage, and you should be fine. By deep, I mean a few feet at least, or better yet, a deep natural crevasse. For liquids, ...


10

If you were the only visitor to the area, the lowest impact would be to defecate on the surface and leave it. Few animals bury their waste, so natural disposal has evolved around dealing with surface waste. However, you aren't the only visitor. Burial slows decomposition and disrupts the soil, but it reduces the ability of microorganisms to reach water ...


9

Before I saw this question, I had no idea the term stealth camping existed, but I have definitely done it a number of times, just backpacking, with a bike, and with a car. Yes, it's possible to do stealth car camping. I live in the US and most of my experiences have been in New England (where I live) and Arizona (which I visit every summer). New England ...


9

An additional point that hasn't been mentioned, is when you camp next to a creek or stream the water level can quickly change, sometimes by quite a bit. It can be sunny where you are camped but heavy rain miles upstream from you, and the raising water level could wash away half of your camp while you sleep.


8

Leave No Trace I grew up in a place that was surrounded by open wilderness. There are no, "stay on the trail rules" there. After spending a lot of time in Parks, where there are a lot of rules, and comparing them to growing up in the lawless wilderness, I have to admit that the Parks are a lot prettier. Visiting the wild trails and campgrounds from my youth ...


8

Burn it. True, campfires are not really a perfect example of leave no trace. But what you can do: Carry the carcass far above the treeline, where there is no vegetation Carry firewood to the same location (of course, only already dead branches and gathered from a sufficiently large area to be not suspicious) Burn! Whatever is left, carry out. If you can ...


7

Rinse your socks and undies out with water, rub them on rocks then re-rinse and wring dry. Put them on damp in the morning. I can't think of a lighter weight solution than that :) I've done plenty of trips with no extra pairs of anything. You certainly won't smell good at the end of 10 days, but I don't think your performance will be affected. Edit: ...


7

Following Leave No Trace principles, which the previous party obviously didn't do, it would be better to camp in the new spot, and upon leaving, removing traces that you were there. We've personally replaced leaved that we had brushed aside to make space for tents to make it look like no camper had ever been there, in addition to carrying out all trash.


7

If the depth of snow and/or the ground being frozen prevents you from burying solid waste below ground level by at least six inches, then, in the spirit of leave no trace, you should carry it out. Use a biodegradable (e.g. cornstarch-based) bag to pick it up and then pack it in a sealed plastic container. For obvious reasons the container should only be used ...



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