Leave No Trace (LNT) is a set of principles aimed at leaving the world in the same condition as you found it. Whether you’re day hiking, backpacking, or living in the city, you can apply these principles to limit your impact on our environment. Every day on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Leave No Trace ethic guides our behavior:
– In the morning after packing up our belongings, we check the campsite to make sure it’s pristine, especially looking for small items like tent stakes and trash.

– As our tummies start to grumble, we eat granola bars for breakfast. The wrappers go into our trash bag. We pack out all of our trash.
– We always follow the trail, especially in steep switchbacked sections, where short cuts cause serious erosion and destabilization problems for future hikers.

– When we come across something cool such as a flower, animal skeleton, or colorful rocks, we take only photos, leaving the good stuff for others to enjoy.

– Around noon we like to cook a meal. We make sure to cook only what we need, wasting nothing. To clean up our pot and utensils, we use a mini scraper (pictured below) to remove as much food as possible. Then if needed we rinse the pot with water and drink the rinse water. We never wash dishes in a stream or lake because this adds unnatural soap and food to the water.

– When we encounter wildlife, we respect it by not harassing it or trying to feed it. We simply watch with excitement.

– When nature calls, we dig a hole about 6 inches deep and at least 200 feet from water, make a deposit, wipe with smooth sticks or leaves, then fill the hole back in. If you prefer to use toilet paper, please make sure to pack it out with the rest of your trash. If you just need to water the bushes, make sure you are at least 200 feet from water.
– Prior to heading into the wilderness, as well as constantly during the trip, we are planning ahead and preparing for what is to come. This minimizes our impact on the environment by curtailing emergency situations.

– As evening approaches, we select a campsite located on a durable surface such as pine needles, dead leaves, or sand. Our goal is to avoid damaging plants and fragile soils. Established campsites are best because they do not create additional disturbance to the area.

– We almost always cook using our stove and are too tired for an evening campfire. If we fancied a campfire one night, we would only create one in an established fire ring, in an area where campfires were allowed and forest fire risk was low.

Those are some of the ways we practice Leave No Trace each day. To learn more about LNT, please visit the Leave No Trace website.

We encourage you to minimize your impact on our planet in everything you do. Through actions like recycling, buying local organic produce, walking or biking instead of driving, and refraining from watering your lawn, you can help preserve the limited resources we all share.

Here are a few highlights from our past five days on the Pacific Crest Trail:
– Chris received his trail name! On the morning of Day 23 we met Big Wuss and continued to leapfrog with him the rest of the day. Our pace was slightly faster and we would catch him, but soon Chris would pause for a few minutes to compose a photograph, and Big Wuss would pass us back. We lost track of Big Wuss late in the afternoon, but on the morning of Day 24, he caught up with us again because surprise, surprise, Chris was taking a photo of a creek. And that’s how Chris earned his trail name: Shutterbug.

– On Day 23 we viewed Big Bear Lake from a ridge high above, with snow-capped peaks rising behind the town. Beautiful!
– We are feeling strong and continue to increase our daily mileage. Here’s a summary of the ground we’ve trod in the last five days:
Day 21: Creek side Camp (235.5)-North of Onyx Summit (252.5); 17 miles
Day 22: North of Onyx Summit (Mile 252.5)-Near Doble Trail Camp (Mile 268.5); 16 miles
Day 23: Near Doble Trail Camp (Mile 268.5)-Holcomb Creek (Mile 286.5); 18 miles
Day 24: Holcomb Creek (Mile 286.5)-Deep Creek (Mile 303.5); 17 miles
Day 25: Deep Creek (Mile 303.5)-Uphill from Grass Valley Creek (Mile 320); 16.5 miles



    1. I cut about six inches off before the hike so it would be less tangly, but it still fits in a ponytail.

      The toad was very patient while Chris took its portrait. Maybe it enjoyed posing!


    1. Thanks Barb, so glad you found it interesting. Living by LNT principles in the wild can lead to a greater appreciation for everything needed to sustain life.

      I’m enjoying my new name. It’s strange to get used to introducing myself to other hikers with that name, but less strange because many other hikers have unusual names of their own!


  1. Great post on leaving no trace. Shutterbug is indeed perfect for you Chris. A wonderful combination of nature and technology!


    1. Thanks! I was definitely happy to get that name. That’s a good point about the technology and nature combination. I guess our blog is another aspect of that.

      We figured not everyone had heard about LNT, so it would be good to share. Glad you liked it!


  2. When you’re hiking, do you see evidence of other hikers being inconsiderate? Does everyone “leave no trace?” Just wondering.


    1. Most hikers follow the Leave No Trace principles. Some do not, but I believe that is typically due to a lack of understanding, not of deliberate disregard. Part of the reason we wrote this LNT post was to teach other hikers how to keep the wilderness pristine for the next hiker.

      It was great to spend more time with you in Big Bear. And glad you joined on the day hike!


  3. Very helpful. Considering a thru hike on the PCT and it helps having insight from a woman as well. I am so full of questions. This was helpful. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: