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[pct-l] Fueling bad habits!

Hello All -

Hooboy...great thread!  Very important topic that gets way too little
attention when folks do outdoor training.  In some places the urine smell
and the acres of TP blossoms are enough to gagamaggot!  The good news is
that the PCT that I hiked had nowhere near the problem that I saw on the
AT...the bad news is that my brand new grand daughter may not be able to
say the same when she hikes her hike <f>.

I felt guilty and raised my hand (it doesn't have to hurt <g>)...

I have had the great good fortune to be involved with an interagency team
that presents the "Leave No Trace" message to large Boy Scout gatherings.
So far, we have talked our heads off at two national Jamborees ('93 and
'97) and two National Order of the Arrow Conventions ('94 and '95).  We
will meet again this summer to present at the '98 NOAC (Ames, Iowa).
Fifteen of us (BLM, USFS, NPS, and NOLS) did both static displays and
active presentations at the '97 Jamboree (VA) that reached an estimated
22,000 Scouts and adult leaders.  All told, we guestimate that our team has
presented the LNT message (at some level) to about 40,000 Scouts and Scouters.

All but the NOLS folks on this particular team are Scouting volunteers.  We
all have gone thru the NOLS "LNT Masters" course (a fun week of
learning/practicing LNT in some beautiful backcountry locations around the
country!).  We all do a LOT of LNT training outside of Scouting (RV users,
horsemen, Sierra Clubbers, etc).  I am a BLM volunteer as well as a
Scouting volunteer...but sometimes I put my thru-hiker hat on when I talk
LNT <g>.

Is it enough?  Not EVEN close!  We all have a long way to go.  My primary
effort has been to help introduce LNT into Boy Scouting...an organization
that I value highly.  Over the years I have talked to a LOT of managing
agency folks - I always ask how Scout groups are doing in the backcountry
under their care.   Unfortunately, the answer has been 100% uniform...not
worth a hoot!  BTW, I asked that question to every BLM, USFS, NPS, and
state type that I met on both the AT and the PCT...the answer always came
back the same <f>.  Believe me, it IS enough to make a guy go put his
training hat on.

As a matter of fact, since '93 I have been asking the managing agency folks
I meet on the trail about how well us thru-hikers have been protecting the
backcountry.  Sonofagun...the answer is almost the same...the feeling is
that the very large majority of the thru-hikers don't make much effort at
all to use minimum-impact camping/hiking techniques.  At first I was
puzzled by this observation...then I realized that thru-hikers as a group
are NOT a particularly well-trained bunch of hikers.  Many of us jump into
a thru-hike without having anything approaching an expert level of outdoor
skills.  Most of us worry more about gear and resupply challenges than
about catching up on modern minimum impact backcountry use techniques.
Shoot...if we follow Ray's advice and avoid the "official" sites along the
trail, we even get to miss the trailhead displays that warn about
particularly fragile areas in the local ecosystems.

Some folks don't get particularly excited about whether or not thru-hikers
are skilled minimum-impact hiker/campers.  After all, how much damage can a
few hundred grubby hikers do each year?  Not me...I know that thru-hikers
have a much larger impact than just their own footprints.  Destination
hikers way too often accept thru-hiker wisdom as gospel (we sure have THEM
fooled <VBG>)...and how about all those thru-hiker slide shows and
free-dinner talks <g>.

We need to come to terms with ALL the various damages that we do to the
backcountry.  Fires, human waste, compaction, contamination, noise, visual
pollution...the list goes on and on.  LOTS of room for debate <g>.  I
happen to feel that human waste is a significant problem in many areas and
is starting to become a problem everywhere...well worth some good

This message is getting way too long - see you at the next one.

- Charlie II   AT (MEGA'93)
              PCT (Mex@Can'95)

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