Tenting With out Leaving A Hint

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Eric Grothaus can rattle off a list of the debris he found while camping. Some of it is ubiquitous. Some of it is just plain weird. “We found car parts,” he says. “A few weeks ago we found someone’s henchman. Then, more commonly, Natty Lite cans. Fireball seems to be popular with people who like to mess up.”

A keen camper, Grothaus from Loveland prefers places like the Red River Gorge and hikes near Nisbet Park, where people are decidedly bad at not leaving a mark.

Photo collage by Brittany Dexter

It’s no coincidence that he uses this phrase: Grothaus is referring to Leave No Trace, a set of national guidelines issued by the eponymous organization whose mission is “to ensure a sustainable future for nature and the planet.”

The site further breaks down each policy available at lnt.org and the rules are basic:

• Plan ahead and prepare.

• Travel and camp on durable surfaces.

• Dispose of waste properly.

• Leave what you find.

• Minimize the impact of campfires.

• Respect wildlife.

• Be considerate of other visitors.

Leave No Trace is important because these are just wild spaces.

“I go into nature [and] I don’t want to see those things when I go there,” says Grothaus. “You just don’t want to leave a solid trail that’s a scar on the landscape for your recreational activity.” Campers should think about their camping philosophy: “If you keep the attitude that you’re there to be immersed in nature, rather than out there being and carrying so much comfort with you, this makes you not to leave as many traces. ”

For example, instead of a 12-pack of Natural Light, Grothaus suggests a bottle.

“I suspect people who do that aren’t [camping to] Escape to nature, but escape from society,” he says. “It seems like they’re the same thing, but it’s a different mindset.”