Currently in its 12th year, the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, 2 teams of professional outdoor educators, have reached over 10 million people in 48 states with Leave No Trace education and training.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

YO, Adrian!

No, we’re not quoting Rocky Balboa, we’re giving a shout out to Youth Opportunities (YO) High School and Adrian Garcia. Working with the US Forest Service and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, Adrian has worked hard to develop a unique program, which offers inner-city high school students the opportunity to connect with nature, through community outreach, conservation education, and Leave No Trace. Youth Opportunities High School is one of the 24 charter schools in Los Angeles taking part in the experiential environmental studies program, which recently received one of our Connect Grants.

We were excited to meet up with Adrian and YO High School at the LA County Fair this week as they worked at the USFS “Caring for the Land” exhibit. Students were involved in every aspect of the exhibit, from guiding fair-goers down an interpretive nature trail, to answering phone calls in the Ranger Station. After hanging out with this amazing group of youths, we are confident that they will be successful in sharing Leave No Trace and promoting stewardship on all our public lands!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Holy Dust Storm Batman!

One unique event mentioned in our earlier Burning Man blog on the 25th was the frequency and intensity of dust storms in the Black Rock Desert. Just for documentation, I couldn't resist whipping out the camera for a very quick clip of one of those storms.

Enjoy watching Amy be pummeled by this white-out. It lasted almost 3 hours. Check out the tent awning behind me for evidence of the wind speed when I turn around.

I am pretty psyched that I taught myself how to embed YouTube into our blog format!

p.s. the camera still functions properly...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Learning at Life Academy

On Friday, September 21st, we had the opportunity to work with the Life Academy high school and middle school programs.  We had twenty-five students ranging from 6th-11th grade and, in all honesty, we were unsure how they would take to Leave No Trace.  The students we were working with were not necessarily "outdoorsy" and we had been warned that they might be a little lukewarm about the whole idea of Leave No Trace. What happened you might ask, did they embrace Leave No Trace and vow to practice and teach it at all times?  Or, did they run, vowing to never practice Leave No Trace?  It was somewhere in between.

We were met with interested students who quickly became intrigued and involved in questions and dialogue.  We became more and more excited as we listened to the students asking more in depth questions of each other and asking us to delve a little deeper into the intricacies of Leave No Trace.  Most of all, we had fun!  We laughed and learned some things from our students and they laughed and learned some things from us.  All in all it was a great experience, one we would definitely take part in again, and we hope that the students at Life Academy are able to use some of the information we shared as they take part in their wetland exploration.

See you on the road,

Ella and North

Greening the Burn

For five days over Labor Day Weekend, we camped and lived within a temporary city holding 49,000 citizens, thousands of art cars, exuberant human creativity, 70 mph "whiteout" dust storms, and a passionate embrace of Leave No Trace ethics which assists with the unbelievable "vanishing" act of this entire human circus at the end of the week.  "Might this be a dream?" you ask.  No it is simply the life-list bonanza known as Burning Man.  Held every year deep within the remote wildness of Nevada's Black Rock Desert, Burning Man is a week-long event that celebrates radical self-expression, community exchange,  self-reliance, and freedom from the "default" world (i.e. what you and I might term the "real"world). 

We had the great fortune of camping and working with the Earth Guardians, a theme camp consisting of both veteran and novice "burners" who make it their work and mission to educate the masses on how to minimize their impact during this period of experimental community. Kudos to Karina, Tony, Mike and the entire gang for welcoming us with open arms and making us feel right at home as we plunged into helping with daily work and life within the camp. We worked the Earth Guardian information booth, monitored numerous burn platforms on the final day of the event, and shared the stage with BLM's Mike Bilbo as we instructed and hosted an open forum on Leave No Trace one day for about 150 people.  

As it is often said, pictures are worth a thousand words, so I am going to let the amazing images in the album attached below serve to convey the crazy and fantastic splendor of Burning Man!  Just open the link, click "View Pictures" and start the slideshow!



Thursday, September 20, 2007

We love muddy boots!

As we continue to to explore the northwest, we have been continually impressed with the diversity in outdoor recreation that this part of the country has to offer. Climbing on big mountains, hiking though lush forests, and kayaking past coastal beaches are never more than a few hours away. The possib-ilities seem endless. 

These amazing recreational opportunities often have volunteers working behind the scenes, promoting conservation and providing manual labour to keep things running smoothly. We had the opportunity to work with one such group when we visited Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest to work with American Hiking Society's Volunteer Vacation program. Working in conjucture with the Pacific Northwest Trail Association, this group was spending a week in the forest building a much needed section of trail. The crew was eager to learn techniques for reducing their impacts while traveling and camping in a group setting. In addition to building trails, this particularly giving group chose to give even more by becoming members of Leave No Trace. We walked away looking forward to seeing the results of all their hard work; they walked away with happy feet, due impart to the new socks that we were able to give them thanks to the support of our amazing sock sponsor...SmartWool.

After spending a few days in Washington, we headed back to Portland to work with Georgia Bosse at the Muddy Boot Organic Festival. Georgia is the Leave No Trace state advocate for Oregon, which means she plays a key role in coordinating Leave No Trace trainings, workshops, and events in Oregon. The Muddy Boot Organic Festival is a two day celebration of sustainalbe living.

Our next stop was Bend, OR, where we met up with our good friend Jenna Linbo. Jenna was our classmate a few years ago on a Wilderness Education Association course. In addition to catching up with Jenna, we were also able to present a Leave No Trace workshop as part of a 4-day canoe trip that she was leading for Cascade Adventures. Cascade Adventures is a student based outdoor adventure program that offers recreational opportunities to students at both Oregon State University-Cascades and Central Oregon Community College. The morning after our presentation we were surprised and excited to see several eagles and hawks circling the river near where we had camped. Upon closer investigation we realized that the river was full of spawning salmon and the birds where taking full advantage of this natural phenomenon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The future

In the past few weeks we have worked with a wide array of folks: Cub Scouts, State Park Directors, Law School and College students; and they all have one thing in common: their focus on recreation and the future of outdoor steward-ship.  

The Cub Scouts we worked with are the future, seven and eight years old, they are excited to play outside and discover the ways they can adventure and have fun in the outdoors.  

The State Parks Director's Conference was focused on ways to encourage kids, such as Scouts, high school and elementary school students, and families, to get outdoors and interact with nature.  It is hoped that as kids build a connection with the outdoors they will want to protect and preserve it so that others can also experience that connection.  

While working with Vermont Law School and Unity College in Maine we found a bridge between the Cub Scouts and the Park Directors.  The students we worked with have established bonds with certain places and are fighting to protect them or are developing their leadership skills as future outdoor educators and stewards.  We worked with students who might be that person who introduces a child to the wonders of the natural world.

As we taught and interacted with these different people we were continually inspired by their enthusiasm, questions, and desire to learn more.  From the Cub Scouts to the State Park Directors everyone was excited about getting outdoors and learning the best practices for their area.  

We encourage all of you: educators, parents, siblings, and outdoor enthusiasts to introduce a kid to the outdoors and the adventures that they can have there!

See you on the road,
North and Ella

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Walking on the Wild Side

On a recent trip to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming I had a pretty amazing experience.  My parents and my brother Rick came to visit us on out road tour and we spent several days exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park.  For several nights we stayed at Jackson Lake Lodge in the shadow of the Grand Teton range.  My mom and I woke around sunrise on morning to go for an early hike before the day's planned activities. It wa a beautiful morning with fog lying low across the valley.  We were on a hilltop taking photos of dew covered spider webs, the fog, and the mountain range that was beginning to reveal itself when we noticed something moving in the distance.   

The area was frequented by moose that enjoyed grazing in the willows, so we immediately thought that must be what we were seeing.  We continued to watch it and noticed that it seemed to be too light in color for a moose, but it was really too far away to make out what it was.  Whatever was out there was a good distance away, so we decided to head down the hill and back towards the trailhead.   

We started back, involved in our usual conversation and scanning the area for any creatures that might be out and about.  At the bottom of the hill I looked to my right to see a grizzly bear standing on her hind legs looking right at us!  You can imagine my surprise (and terror) as I stopped in my tracks, whispered to my mother that there was a grizzly bear about 25 feet from us, and that we need to slowly back up the trail.  

As we backed up the hill the bear continued our way, watching as she crossed the trail in front of us.  Just when we were starting to feel as if she wasn't interested in us, another grizzly crossed the trail in front of us, following the first.  This one also kept an eye on us, but was interested in the first bear.  Soon after, the first of the two bears looked back as we watched 2 more bears cross the trail. 

There we stood, in awe, and in closer proximity to a grizzly bear than I ever wanted to be, much less four grizzlies!  Their silver coats were so beautiful and it was amazing to watch them silently communicate to us and one another as we shared that space.  Once we felt pretty secure from a safe distance we started taking photos.  We knew that this outrageous story would need to have some photographic evidence.  It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!  I feel very lucky to have had this experience and to have shared it with my mother!  Thanks for letting me share it with you!

Enjoy the photos!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

From the Indoor Office to the Outdoor Office

On August, 27 we spent the morning talking with REI employees at the Portland, OR store about the PEAK program. REI employees provide outreach to their communities through the PEAK program.

After a short presentation there we headed to the 'office' of International Mountain Guides (IMG) in Ashford, WA. We spent the day learning about glacier travel from IMG co-founder George Dunn. George, a Leave No Trace Master Educator, spent time talking with us about the ways that IMG 'leaves no trace' while guiding their clients up mountains all over the world. We also had the opportunity to share Leave No Trace information with some of the climbers that were about to climb Mt. Rainier.

The guides at IMG are a class act. We really appreciate George having the Traveling Trainers out for a day of glacier training and we look forward to climbing with International Mountain Guides in the future.

Until next time,

JD and Emily