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Dear PCT Class of 2019

I’m getting ready to go on a hike of my own, but I wanted to drop you a note to let you know it’s still snowing in the High Sierra. My 2017 blog post “Dear PCT Class of 2017” with tips about snow travel and whatnot definitely, definitely applies, since we got more snow (* see footnotes) this year than we did overwinter 2016/2017. I spent the winter shoveling, plowing, skiing, and snowshoeing in the Sierra, and I’ll tell you what: nobody who knows anything about avalanches or snow conditions (in brief, they suck) is going back there behind the Crest right now. I hope you read my 2017 letter and do all the other research and preparation you can, and don’t rush a thing. There are a lot of us who are very concerned for your safety. Remember that Leave No Trace (LNT) ethic isn’t… continue reading

Leave No Trace in Advertising

I’ve been shopping for new gear for 2016 and something is bugging me…

So here’s my call out to manufacturers and users of tents and sleeping bags and camp stoves and other camping gear. All outdoor folk who love nature. (Hopefully that includes you.)

Stop advertising gear with images that clearly violate the Leave No Trace ethic.

Stop glamorizing these violations.

Instead, set great examples of people camping using LNT principles.

Dude. What are you talking about?!

More specifically, I’m talking about images of camps set up right on the sides of lakes. They’re so pretty, but they’re so… wrong.

Please stop posting photographs of tents pitched less than 200 feet from idyllic lakes. Less than 100 feet from lakes. Less than 50 feet from lakes!

What’s the problem with camping near water?

I’d like to camp right by the water. It doesn’t seem… continue reading

Making Steve Roper Proud

The Sierra High Route is a 195-mile long route charted through the backcountry — and along some existing trails — of the High Sierra Nevada. It was devised by noted Sierra climber and historian Steve Roper, and originally, discreetly, published in book form in 1982. I first learned about it in 2013 during my thru-hike when the wonderfully thought-full hiker “Manchurian.” Manchurian hiked a section of the Sierra High Route between Reds Meadow and Tuolumne, I’m not sure how much of it he conquered but I remember him telling me it wasn’t too hard, and that the only sign of humanity he found out there was a deflated helium balloon.

When the Pacific Crest Trail and it’s burgeoning “culture” totally disenfranchised me earlier this year, I made a rather knee-jerk decision to ditch the PCT and instead tackle that remote and “not too hard” Sierra High Route.

The only… continue reading

How to Do Trail Magic Right

This is a post about trail angeling and trail magic on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and why perhaps it has become detrimental to the trail and trail culture.

Between 2013 and 2015, whether because of the “Wild” movie effect or due to an influx of Appalachian Trail (AT) hikers wanting more trail time or even triple crowns, the population of thru-hikers on the PCT doubled. The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), a governing body of sorts in charge of maintaining access to the trail, again issued permits arbitrarily and for free — several thousand of them.

Between April 6 and May 1 this year, I camped out at mile 42 of the trail, doing backpack shake-outs at Mt. Laguna Sports and washing dishes at the Pine House CafĂ©. Between May 1 and May 15, I worked with trail angels Ziggy and the Bear in their home at mile 210…. continue reading

Awesome Sauce on the PCT

LNT on the PCT

Everyone who goes out in the woods should know the seven Leave No Trace principles (LNT). In fact, if you’re caught by a ranger, especially in the National Parks, you might get asked to recite them to avoid getting a fine. This impromptu quiz happened to me, and stumbling through the answers got me out of a lot of trouble. Even if you don’t get stopped and grilled, these principles will keep you out of all sorts of other trouble.

Here they are. Study. Heck, write them inside your pack with a Sharpie. You can thank me later.

Plan Ahead and Prepare Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces Dispose of Waste Properly Leave What You Find Minimize Campfire Impacts Respect Wildlife Be Considerate of Other Visitors

I recommend reading further into these principles on the LNT… continue reading

Everybody Does It

After being a nurse for a few years I started to notice that I talked about poop more than most other things. Even in mixed company. I found talking about poop… easy. And humorous. Why didn’t everyone want to talk about the funniest thing, ever, in detail, all the time, I wondered?

For me, poop is hilarious because we all do it pretty much every day, but nobody talks about it. The less we talk about something, the funnier it can be if poked at. Beyond that, it’s this incredible by-product and proof of our metabolism — our living. It’s also pure, stinky death. That’s fascinating! And with all the stories I accumulated having to do with poop in the hospitals, I could talk about it all day. I am not exaggerating.

Now poop is taboo, but what’s even more taboo is pooping in anything but a toilet.

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