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Leave No Trace Tips (Spring Edition)

As the weather warms and the snow melts, the land is clearly laid out for us. No longer hidden or inaccessible, you can expect to see an uptick in crowds on your favorite trailhead or crag. And with that uptick, you'll probably (unfortunately) see an uptick in trash or folks recreating without the land in mind.

And rather than being frustrated (which you do have every right to be), educating yourself and others is the first and maybe best step to take towards keeping the wild areas you love wild.

Today we're diving into leaving no trace tips for springtime thanks to our friends at Leave No Trace; let's get rolling!

Embrace the Mud

With the thawing of winter and expected rain, the trails are bound to be soaked for much of the season. And while it's tempting to avoid getting caked in mud, it's actually your best option! The grass and surrounding ecosystems will be fragile this time of year as they begin to take root and grow again. Staying on the trail (as always) is your best bet in helping them thrive!

Embrace the Bugs

Another piece of spring we might not feel like loving is the bugs. The mosquitos, the ticks, the bees, all of them re-emerge to our potential dismay.

You might be a pro swatter, but leave it at that! As obnoxious as it can feel they are, insects are a vital part of the ecosystem! They feed birds, pollinate our plants, and feed the aquatic life.

While there is the chance of certain diseases (like Lyme), try opting for long sleeve/leg articles of clothing to keep you protected. Gentle bug sprays are another great option, but the harsh chemicals found in most insect repellents on the market can do more harm than good to your surrounding environment.

Limit Invasive Species Spread

Spring and Summer are prime time for invasive species to hitch a ride on your gear and clothing. It might take a little extra time to wipe off your shoes and check your clothing when jumping off the trail, or wipe/sanitize your watercraft before leaving your destination.

Buying firewood locally/close to your campsite is another simple yet huge way to help stop the spread.

Be Prepared! 

This one might not seem like the most obvious, but the greater your chances of getting on and off the trail easily, the better for the planet.

Mistakes do happen and sometimes events are out of our control; we are so fortunate to have SAR teams and wilderness first responders who have committed their time to helping people who get out of difficult situations.

However, the different modes of transportation do take a toll on the planet. So, always be prepared. Check conditions ahead of time, let somebody know where you're going, bring more food/water than you think you'll need, and plan accordingly.

This might also mean easing into hikes if you've taken a break during the winter months to let your body acclimate once again to possible elevation changes and stress put on the body. And there's nothing wrong with that when it means you're keeping yourself and others safe!

We hope this helps you kick off your spring adventures on the right foot! If you're already familiar with these tips, consider sending them to friends or family members who are new to hiking this season! It really is up to us to help protect this great planet.

Let's all pitch in and do our part! Happy Trails!