Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rules for the trail

Lyman Glacier
I must confess to having a natural aversion to rules. However, I also know for things to work well for all, the great freedoms of the trail need to be balanced with an equal portion of responsibility. A booklet on backpacking produced by the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service provides a nice summary of balancing the freedom of backpacking with the importance of responsibility “Self-sufficient, yes, but with this freedom goes an individual responsibility to care for the environment and respect the rights of those you meet along the way and those who follow you.”
Lyman Glacier with balloon

One rule I strive to practice is to leave the trail in better shape than when I found it. It was outstanding that there was about no trace of graffiti or litter on the 20 plus mile hike to and from Upper Lyman. The one exception to this was a yellow balloon caught alongside of the Lyman Glacier. Note to self and others, not a good idea to release helium balloons.

Pair of Sooty Grouse
I was thankful not to have blaring music or visual distractions along the trail. During this time it was nice to have no cell phone or Internet coverage. One of the benefits of walking quietly came as I just about stumbled upon a Sooty Grouse directly before me on the trail. After stopping I discover a couple of its peers on a log just downhill from the trail. What a pleasant surprise!

Guidelines for back country travel provided by the US Forest Service include the following: 
Alpine trail

  1. Travel quietly; avoid clanging cups, yells and screams… However some noise will generally keep all bears away.
  2. Wear “earth colors” to lessen your visual impact, especially if you are traveling in a group. However, during hunting season a blaze orange hat and vest are advisable for your personal safety.
  3. When tracking wildlife for a photograph or closer look, stay downwind, avoid sudden movements, and never chase or charge any animal.
  4. Stay on the designated path when hiking existing trails.
  5. If you choose a route without trails, follow your contour map. Do not mark trees, build rock piles or lave messages in the dirt.
  6. Hike in groups of four to six people at most; four is the best number in areas without trails. In case of sickness or injury one person can stay with the victim while two people go for help.
  7. Pick up any litter along the route; have a small bag available for trash.
  8. Avoid removing items of interest (rocks, flowers, wood or antlers). Leave these in their natural state for others to see.
  9. Allow horses plenty of room for travel.
  10. Help preserve America’s cultural heritage by leaving archaeological an historical remains undisturbed, encourage others to do the same, and report your discoveries to the local Ranger.

Marmot aka Groundhog

Trail Questions…  

What are the most important rules for you to stay on course?

What are rules that help you to get along with your trail partners?

What are things you can do to leave the trail behind you better than it was?

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