OK so now I’m really fired up, I just read a great article by Christian Noble over at Master Woodsman, the article or blog is PST perryabout LNT or Leave No Trace. Chris documents the history and the results of this lifestyle, please read his article.

Like so many things these days, someone comes up with some clever catch phrase or even just an acronym and suddenly it becomes the way things should be. LNT sounds like such s good thing to do, like it is the only way we should be. Chris points out that we are are NOT visitors here, this earth is our home, I say further, we were born out of the elements of the earth, our daily life should not consist of treating everything like a museum visit, we should be able to interact with our environment without fear of violating some creed. Many things start out as good ideas, then take on a life of their own, soon they morph into organizations that at times can seem heavy handed and dictatorial. There are always those who tend to extremism, each of us can be that way with causes we are passionate about.
It’s funny how so many things that used to be OK, are not that way anymore. What changed? Were we that bad in decades past? In my youth I had a two man canvas pup tent and when out camping I would find two sticks to use as poles as I pitched my tent, what’s wrong with that? Sometimes I like to hang a pot over a fire, to do that I gather two or more poles to make a suspension, I think its OK to do that generally. There are occasions in areas of abundant trees where it’s really nice to make some benches to sit on around the fire, why not? What’s wrong with taking three poles and a stick to make a very cozy Yukon chair? Except in delicate areas, all the above should not be out of reason.
Here are a few points to considerSurvival Debris Hut in Winter
  • I do not subscribe fully to the concept of Leave No Trace. Who says that’s the best way? In reality it is pretty hard to do.
  • Lest you think I like to churn and burn my way through life, one of the the sights I hate the most is coming into an area where everyone who ever camped there from the beginning of time decided they needed to make their own campfire ten feet from the last one, what an ugly disaster.
  • Another pet peave of mine is hatchet men, those who feel their whole week at camp must always consist of taking a hatchet and try to see how many trees in as wide a circumference  as they can manage they can mercilessly hack up. I made a video about this.
  • Now let me get this one last thing out of the way. If you are capable of hauling stuff into camp, take what’s left back out with you. Don’t throw cans, bottles, wrappers all over, don’t leave wads of toilet paper everywhere, contrary to popular belief, it does not instantly degrade into top quality compost. I also made a video about cleaning up after ourselves.
  • It is not ideal to celebrate on the 4th of July holiday (USA) by leaving the cleverly decorated red, white and blue beer cans all over creation.
  • If you have brought a firearm with you, don’t think that you need to shoot up everything in sight, just to see what happens, be a little discreet about your target practice area. Clean up your shot up cans, bottles, plates, shoes, whatever it is, leave the area nice.
  • I do not believe that if I happen to break a twig, the world will suddenly come to a screeching halt. As a former Master Gardener, I taught that proper pruning actually helps a tree be stronger, healthier, and more disease free, not that in the woods we are pruning trees to that end. The fact is, it does not hurt a tree to skim a few branches off, or to snap a few boughs to use as bedding.
    Some guys in front of Shelter built for rain

    Some guys in front of Shelter built for rain

  • Much of the time nature overproduces seedlings and young plants, an area may become a thick carpet of seedling trees, most of which over time will die out as competition for sunlight, water, and nutrients ensues. So, what if an area is loaded with eight foot tall pine saplings and I harvest a dozen for camp use? Is that going to harm the delicate balance of nature? I think not, it may help it.
  • Do I go in and clear cut every single tree in a thirty foot radius? No I would usually take one tree where two are very close.
  • I never use much of nature in areas that are heavily used by campers.
  • Campfires seem to be one of the biggest offenders when it comes to ruining a pristine location. Keep fires practically sized, every fire doesn’t have to be a bonfire. If there is already a fire area in a location use it, don’t go start another nearby. Remember you don’t have to pile a dump truck load of rocks to make a fire ring, in fact you don’t really need rocks at all, at times they are useful for a particular style of fire, at other times, it’s just a pile of rocks. Many times I make a fire with no fire ring at all and when I’m done and the ashes are cold I can spread them around, they are fertilizer you know, when I’m done it’s hardly noticeable that I was ever there.
So common sense should come into play at some point, right? It is what makes things more simple without the need for hundreds of rules. We can easily adjust our activity based on the conditions. In a delicate area with sparse vegetation, a light footprint is called for, disturb very little. No one has to tell you this, you should know it instinctively. Much of the rest of the wilderness is filled with life, trees, flowers, animals; here you can use a little of the abundance to make camp life more 2014-11-15 13.03.18comfortable. Using a little of nature while we are outdoors helps us to merge with it, creating wonderful life long memories. In a remote area, little used by others, make yourself a nice camp, one you visit often to get away, what’s wrong with that? I think there can be balance, we don’t have to go to the woods, feeling sterile, afraid to interact. I think instead of leave no trace, it should be more along the lines of, if you leave a trace, make it appropriate to the environment you are in.
Until next time, this is Perry Peacock for “Simplifying Survival”

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