LNT in the new millenium

3:43 p.m. on August 14, 2019 (EDT)
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For years I have tried to follow LNT principles as much as humanly possible especially in wilderness areas - camping on durable surfaces, not building fires, packing out wastes and disposing of human waste appropriately, etc.  In fact I have a regular habit of taking "after" photos of my campsites as the last thing I do before stepping back on the trail (or off it) to be able to later judge how I left them or have improved my lighter touch on the ecosystem - such as memorizing exactly where I moved a rock from to stabilize the upwind tent stake on a high ridge the other weekend and replacing it exactly (yes it would have been better to have not moved it but the winds were pretty intense and ground unyielding to my deeper stakes). 

One thing I did last year (not on the LNT list as far as I am aware but I'm always open to correction!) was reduce my trip reports as I felt advertising areas any more than already done on the internet and social media would just lead to more use and more impact, especially for wilderness and high use areas.  Since January I haven't posted any and have been meaning to getting around to throwing this topic out to the crowd here for thoughts and discussion on the pros and cons...so here you go.  I know this subject has a long history going back to trail guides etc, but feel its even more relevant now with the ease someone can pull up information. 


6:22 p.m. on August 14, 2019 (EDT)
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I used to post many trip reports but on hidden places on the net because of what you are saying. At first I was not so private but have seen vivid reports bloom over the years. Now I’m careful not to disclose locations through image information or text. Most of the time but not always I keep horizon out of the images, depends on how sensitive the area is, and always keep gps information scrubbed from the images.

We have definitely seen areas degraded by too much human traffic. Eggheads abound even in some of the so called environmental circles. I know they are going to go somewhere but I don’t want it to be in our areas of operation. Leaving little or no trace or impact is becoming more important than ever with 7+ billion on this rocky waterworld.

7:58 p.m. on August 14, 2019 (EDT)
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I have a friend that doesn't give you where he went just some nice features...Hes trying to get rid of the impact of people and just enjoy it for himelf...Cant blame anyone...Keeps the crowds out.

9:40 a.m. on August 15, 2019 (EDT)
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Most of the places I go these days aren't exactly off the beaten path, for hikers anyway. i rarely do trip reports. besides, i don't think writing about the white mountains (NH) in the winter would launch a stampede of eager but inexperienced hikers to wreck the experience. :)

2:05 p.m. on August 15, 2019 (EDT)
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I started posting extensive trip reports of my romps in Citico wilderness back in 2001 and have reached almost 200 trips in nearly 20 years.  I advertised the HECK out of it. 

Thing is, I just got back from a 24 day trip in Citico in July and only saw one person the whole time.

2:46 p.m. on August 15, 2019 (EDT)
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I wouldn't worry about it, unless it was someplace very alluring and/or very easy to get to.  The masses are really lazy.  A few weeks ago I was in a very popular national park at peak season.  Even on the most popular trails (which are already widely publicized), a mile from the trailhead really cut down on the number of people, and three miles from the trail head meant we hardly saw anyone. 

3:53 p.m. on August 15, 2019 (EDT)
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DrPhun said:

I wouldn't worry about it, unless it was someplace very alluring and/or very easy to get to. 


I totally agree about the alluring places.

We found a route into a stunning area in a very popular National Park, a place that is cut off with extremely rugged terrain, steep hills and partitions, deep cut gulches and winding labyrinths and only a few precise points are passable. Lots of ups and downs and different directions that twist and turn with sheer cliffs. Once inside the colorful terrain is littered with painted potsherds of wild design, mangos and metates all over, some stone tools and points, Basketmaker II pit houses, eroded Pueblo III constructions and small adornments of beads and medallions, even human bones coming out of the floors and terrain in places. There are some stunning examples of very detailed petroglyphs all over.

Even very experienced backpackers and hikers miss it and I mean just barely. Once in the several main areas are widespread but many things in between. We made a precise map to get in and out as there are no trails, ended up going there for years, spent weeks at a time and have extensive photography of the overall areas from some of the high perches right down to the details of the artifacts. The only other person we saw and just one time was the superintendent of the Park, a real cool guy. Before we introduced ourselves we told him not to tell anyone about the place. He liked that. There are others who know about it but nobody wants to see anything taken and like the Natural Outdoor Museum with everything in situ as it lays.

The funny thing…it is a super busy and popular Park.

Most follow the herd who are following prior directions and are and are on trails. LNT is very necessary here and photograph but leave in place is essential if you want this experience. The more you explore the more you find.

5:17 p.m. on August 15, 2019 (EDT)
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I just came back from camping by a popular lake for several days in mid-August.  in the loop of 40 large campsites I was one of two people camping there.  I will not mention the location.  Too many great places get ruined that way. 

4:37 a.m. on August 16, 2019 (EDT)
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There are only two place I don't share, for fear them getting overrun or degraded:

The first is a hot spring somewhere along the JMT.  It is not on the maps (me now thinks purposely so.)  I stumbled upon it decades ago, quite by accident, during a solo ski trek, seeing an unusual cloud (it turned out to be a steam plume) rising from a side canyon about 1/2 mile from where the summer trail passes.  I have been there several times since, each time having it to ourselves.  It is located only a short, relatively easy XC hike from a heavily used camping area.  It is beautiful, minimally improved, just enough so the soils and adjacent flora do not get damaged by the careful visitor.  I later mentioned this discovery to a field ranger assigned to the area's BC station.  He asked me to keep it a secret; I have since learned some of the outfitters also know of this soak, but these folk so relish their little paradise, that they don't even share it with clients or other "outsiders".

The second is a location I have camped at twice every year since the mid 1970s in Joshua Tree NP.  It is a desert rat's paradise.  I am sure if it were known by others, it would get overused, as the park has become too popular for its own good, and the desert is extremely fragile.   Despite having camped there over 80 times in the passing decades, guests I take there have no ideas we arrived at our destination until I point out coins we have laid out on a central rock and a $20 bill we leave by the hearth; otherwise our impact is almost nonexistent.  (the money is for detecting if someone else has stumbled upon our camp.)

There are a couple of places along the Eastern Sierra I don't disclose, because they are my go-to options when I can't get permits for other appealing venues.  A purely selfish agenda, indeed.  Otherwise most places I travel where publicity theoretically may lead to them being loved to death are already under quota regulations, or remote enough to place them beyond reach of excessive tree hugging (or killing).


12:22 p.m. on August 16, 2019 (EDT)
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I have been to a certain hot springs along the JMT.   A wonderful spot that shall remain nameless.  

Some people seem to have a compulsion to share their lives with the world.  I have had people go fishing on my powerboat, and within 10 minutes, they are taking photos and video and launching it to social media.  I don't care about your cat, baking cookies, where you went out to eat or what your campsite looks like.  Some things are best left to the imagination. 

8:43 p.m. on August 16, 2019 (EDT)
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kind Of a mixed bag of tricks, ya want people to get out the with us and hopefully it brings out the respect for nature in them when they see and hang out with us. But I definitely would not give directions to any place past a 3 mile limit that everyone seems to agree on if it were easy. Inside that range its probably already known. But most aren’t willing to go that far. But your secret places outside that range should only with people you know respect it. Otherwise you’re gonna get the 4 wheeler, motorcycle bike helicopter crowd dropping in outside of that. 


but you can share with us ! :):):)

February 25, 2020
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