Leave No Trace has been around a long time, and its difficult to believe that some campers and backpackers still dont get it.
I got a note from Ken Helms of Boise, who is an avid and expert backpacker. He and his wife were on a recent trip and witnessed a mess left by other campers.
Heres how he described it:
We ran into a couple coming out and chatted for a few minutes. I could tell from their gear that they were somewhat inexperienced. They had all the right gear. It didnt look new, but they had way too much for a two-night trip.
I asked where they had camped and recognized the spot from their description. When we reached the spot a few minutes later, there was a fire still burning! I know it had recently rained, but to me, as a Westerner, you never leave a fire going.
We carefully carried the small logs to the creek to extinguish them. We then filled our milk jug bucket with water (twice) to pour on the ring, which had no stones to deter the wind from catching the embers. It was difficult to get to the creek, but not overly so. I know he had a bunch of Gatorade containers and could easily have filled them and doused the fire.
So, was it laziness or ignorance? Im not sure. Secondly, on the way to the creek, we found their latrine. It was about 10 yards from the water. It was obvious by all of the toilet paper remnants sticking out of the leaves. They hadnt bothered to dig a cat hole.
Maybe you can use this somehow to remind people about the dangers of fire as we are fast approaching fire season and of their responsibility to dispose of their fecal matter properly.
Ive carried a plastic shovel for years and only broken one of them. As you know, if you scout around, you can always find a proper site to dig a cat hole.
After getting Kens note, I checked out the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics website.
Leaving no trace is the key to backpacking and camping and preserving our wilds. Here are some tips:
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished. Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, or use a fire pan.
- Keep fires small.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
For more tips, go to lnt.org.
KIDS HIKING TIPS
Q: My grandkids (ages 5 and 11) are coming into town for a weeklong stay with us. I would like to take them on a hike throughponderosa pines somewhere and was thinking about the Crooked River Trail north of Idaho City.
Do you know if that trail is open, muddy or dry?
I would prefer a closer trail to home (Meridian), so if you have another one to recommend that is fairly easy to do, I would appreciate your suggestions.
BILLY MARABLE, via email
A: The Crooked River Trail northeast of Idaho City is an excellent trail for kids when the river isnt flowing high.
Thats what worries me about recommending the trail right now. It could still be muddy, and if you have to ford the river, the flow could be a little fast, high and cold for hikers, especially young ones.
The U.S. Forest Service is sending a trail crew in this week, and well have more information on it later.
As I said, its a great trail for kids in summer and fall because you get to splash in the river. Ive taken Boy Scouts on this trail in mid-summer, and it was a super hike.
The trailhead is reached by taking Idaho 21 northeast out of Idaho City to the Edna Creek Campground. Turn on the road to Atlanta and go one mile.
If you want to make it an overnighter, the Edna Creek Campground is a good choice for camping.
If you want to stick closer to home, you might try the Hulls Gulch Nature Trail in the Boise Foothills. Its the perfect time of the year for that trail.
Hulls Gulch Trail is a great interpretive hike for the whole family. Signs give information all along the trail.
Whats really cool is that with a shuttle vehicle, you can make your hike all downhill.
Plan to use two vehicles and park one at the lower trailhead, then you can drive to the upper trailhead and have an easy 3.5-mile hike.
The trail is the pride of the Foothills and has been the delight of many. Its also a cool trail to show visiting relatives.
Get there by driving out 8th Street 3.5 miles to the lower trailhead. The upper trailhead is another 3 miles up 8th Street.
I was recently writing about the Station Creek Trail across from the Garden Valley Ranger Station. Its another good trail for kids. It goes up into ponderosa pines and is shady on a sunny day.
Take Idaho 55 north from Boise to Banks and then go east on the Banks to Lowman Highway past Garden Valley. Just past the airstrip is the Garden Valley Ranger Station. The trail is across the road.
There will be more on this trail in Scene on Friday, June 15.
For a fun day trip and good beginner trails, try Ponderosa State Park in McCall. Its a two-hour drive.
Q: Do know of anyone who has gotten into the Beaver Creek and Marsh Creek areas this year?
RANDY W., via email
A: The folks at the Salmon-Challis National Forest say Beaver Creek and Lola Creek campgrounds are open.
That means the Marsh Creek and Capehorn areas are accessible.
Be prepared for mosquitoes. Last year, a squadron almost lifted our camper van in that area.
There was a whole lot of buzzing going on all night long. The camping areas are about 20 miles northwest of Stanley off Idaho 21.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445