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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Picture of the Week 9/30/11

Rock Bridge, Red River Gorge, KY.  Where's Waldo, Where's Tracy?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Leave No Trace in Practice on the Appalachian Trail

Earlier this year, we met Buckeye Flash, who was planning on hiking the Appalachian Trail. He completed his journey earlier this month and we asked him to explain how he used Leave No Trace while on the trail:

On March 22, 2011, I began my attempt to thru-hike the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail (AT). I started at Springer Mountain, Georgia (southern terminus) and hoped to reach Mt. Katahdin (northern terminus) in Baxter State Park in Maine before it closed in mid-October. To say that I was inexperienced would be a huge understatement. My previous hiking was basically limited to a dozen or so day-hikes of two to three hours per hike. As a hiker I had never spent one night camping. I came away with a new respect for the physical environment of the mountains and back country as a whole. A sense of stewardship by hikers is essential to the future of the trail.

Before the trek began I was introduced to Jason and Agata Ketterick, Traveling Trainers for
Leave No Trace (LNT). They asked me to explain how my AT experience related to the principles of outdoor ethics which LNT promotes. So here is my story.

1. Plan ahead and prepare:
Before the hike I read as much as I could on the places where I would be hiking, such as, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), Shenandoah National Park and Baxter State Park in Maine. An example of an important regulation in the GSMNP is that a hiker must stay in a shelter, if space is available. If there isn't space available in the shelter, tenting nearby is permitted. This type of information was helpful in knowing the dos and don'ts in those areas. Starting my hike in March meant having warmer clothing and a 30-degree sleeping bag at the start and subsequently replacing it with lighter weight clothing and a 45-degree sleeping bag later on.

2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces:
The AT has approximately 260 shelters between Georgia and Maine. A shelter may sleep 4 to 20 people. A source of water and a privy are available at almost every shelter. In addition at most shelters there are campsites. Most of the time I camped near the shelter. A few times the need arose to camp where there were no shelters nor campsites. On those occasions it was important to camp at least 200 feet from the source of water, such as a pond or stream. Walking in the middle of the AT is easy when the trail is dry. The difficult part is to stay in the middle of the trail when there is standing water or mud "blocking" the trail. Yet it may necessary in order not to damage the vegetation in pristine areas. I hiked alone for much of my trek. In the latter part of my journey I hiked with other people and during that time we always walked single file making it easier to stay on the trail.

3. Dispose of waste properly:
A basic principle of LNT outdoor ethics is to pack out what you pack in. No one enjoys seeing trash on the trail, at a shelter or campsite. Most thru-hikers follow this principle religiously. Unfortunately there are the rare times when the principle is not followed and litter dots the ground. Several times I picked up a candy or snack wrapper which may have fallen out of a hiker's pack or pocket. One major advantage of staying at or camping near a shelter is the presence of a privy. It saves the need to dig a cat hole to dispose of human waste. I did very little cooking during my hike so I did not need to wash dishes often. When I did cook, I merely boiled water and poured it into a plastic pouch containing dehydrated food. After eating the food, the pouch was packed out as trash saving the need to wash dishes. The few times that I did need to wash a cup or bowl, I was careful to be 200 feet or more away from a water source and use only a drop or two of biodegradable soap.

4. Leave what you find
: I carried everything I needed on my back. I had no desire to take anything I saw or found on the trail as an artifact or souvenir.

5. Minimize campfire impacts: At most shelters and campsites there are established fire rings. Thru-hikers who cook carry a small stove. So on the AT fires are not typically used for cooking. They do provide a place to socialize in the evening. In some areas, especially in the northeast US, there are signs which state that no fires are permitted. In some cases shelters have had to be rebuilt due to fires.

6. Respect wildlife:
The point that one should observe wildlife from a distance is common sense. Bears, moose and snakes are generally not aggressive, if they are not followed or approached. I saw bear, moose, snakes and other animals on the AT. At no times were any aggressive. Storing food and trash securely is important. In many areas bear cables or bear boxes protect wildlife and hiker food. Most hikers who bring their dog on the trail have a well behaved pet. I did not observe any pet that was out of control. Dogs are not permitted though in the Smokies or Baxter State Park.

7. Be considerate of other visitors
I was impressed by how courteous most AT hikers were in yielding to others on the trail. Stepping to the side when encountering hikers was widely followed.
-Buckeye Flash

Buckeye Flash is the trail name of Bob Grau, a retired educator from Cleveland, Ohio. He finished his thru-hike at Mt. Katahdin in Maine on September 7, 2011. He hiked the last 350 miles on a broken ankle. Check out the blog he wrote while hiking the Appalachian Trail.

All the best,

Agata and Jason

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Team West in the Sawtooth National Forest

Ketchum, Idaho -

Over the past week Team West has been enjoying world class outdoor recreation and educational outreach in the Sun Valley area. Teaming up with old friends at Mountain Niceness Productions, and meeting up with new ones like local outfitter Backwoods Mountain Sports we had the opportunity to get out into some of the most beautiful country we have seen in 2011!

The community in Sun Valley embraced the seven principles of Leave No Trace where ever we had the chance to connect and share the programs we offer on the road as Traveling Trainers. The ethic of stewardship for public land in places like the Sawtooth National Forest is apparent in the responsible actions and attitudes amongst all user groups we encountered.

Keep an eye out for Leave No Trace in Boise later this week as team West visits REI and offers a PEAK workshop on Wednesday evening.

All the best,

Jason and Agata

Monday, September 26, 2011

Red River Gorge-eous!

Stanton, KY.  This past weekend marked the second consecutive year the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer program attended the Living Archeology Weekend at the scenic Red River Gorge in the Daniel Boone National Forest.  Known for its abundant natural stone arches, unusual rock formations, and spectacular sandstone cliffs, the Red River Gorge has been designated a geological area by the Forest Service.  

Sky Bridge

In 2010, the Red River Gorge was named as the very first Leave No Trace Hot Spot.  A Leave No Trace Hot Spot is an are that is impacted by litter, dog waste, invasive species, habituated wildlife, trail and campsite erosion, contamination of water sources, names carved in trees, cigarette butts along a trail, damaged cultural and historic sites, toilet paper “flowers” around campsites and pets chasing wildlife.  Once a site is nominated and selected, The Center seeks to minimize these common impacts through outreach, education, training, signage, educational materials, consulting and local collaboration.  One year later, both the Center and Forest Rangers that we spoke to are pleased with the progress of the program.  

Leave No Trace Signage at the Gladie Visitor Center

This year, Team East returned to the gorge for a weekend of education and outreach.  On Friday, we were stationed at the Gladie Visitor Center.   We met with more than 800 fifth graders, teachers, and their chaperones to stress the importance of the Leave No Trace Principle Leave What You Find.   Throughout the course of the day, there were many "lightbulb" moments for the students.  They understood that if past generations had removed cultural items from the natural world, today we would have a lesser understanding of our cultural history.  Looking to the future, the students were also empathetic to the idea that if were on a  hike today and removed arrowheads, artifacts, and other historical items from the natural world, then future generations will not be able to study the historical significance of these cultural areas either.  Lightbulbs were, indeed,  turning on left and right for these young stewards of the land!

Above, students work on the activity "Sentence Frenzy" to understand the importance of preserving and protecting the cultural resource in their own back yards. Our next stop is Lake Barkley State Resort Park for a trainer course with the Kentucky State Parks.  Team East signing off from the Bluegrass State!

Explore Responsibly...Kate and Tracy

Friday, September 23, 2011

Picture of the Week 9/23/2011

The sunrise, hazy from wildfires, over the Salmon River in Idaho.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Smartwool & Soda Creek in Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs, CO - Earlier this week we visited Smartwool, one of the official outfitters of the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer program. Fifteen Smartwool employees joined us for an opportunity to learn more about Leave No Trace and a barbeque. The conversation focused on how to share the 7 program principles with audiences in any setting where promoting responsible outdoor recreation is possible.

We also had the chance to visit all of the 5th graders at Soda Creek Elementary School and introduce these young outdoor recreationists to the concepts of the Leave No Trace program. The students were very excited to talk about making safe and responsible decisions in the outdoors as well as taking the BigFoot Challenge on the Leave No Trace website!

All the best,

Agata and Jason

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gorge Hoppin' in the Southeast!

Gauley River
Southeast USA.  In our opinion, rivers are one of natures most spectacular gifts.  The peaceful sound of the constant flow of water is soothing and can undoubtedly bring about a zen feeling when relaxing along a rivers' bank.  Many songs have been written about rivers.  One of our favorites is actually called River by Yonder Mountain String Band. The song was inspired by the Yuba River near Nevada City, CA.  Gorges are another magnificent gift from the natural world which are most often created by rivers over long periods of time.  A favorite gorge that comes to mind is the Columbia River Gorge that creates a border between Oregon and Washington State.  This part of the country is a gigantic playground for outdoor enthusiasts that enjoy waterfall peeping.  In the upcoming weeks, Team East has the privilege of visiting and providing Leave No Trace outreach at both the Red River Gorge in Kentucky and the New River Gorge in West Virginia.  Do you have a favorite river or gorge to play in?  

Explore Responsibly...Kate and Tracy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pulling Down at the Pocatello Pump

Pocatello, Idaho -

Last weekend Team West was in southeast Idaho for the 30th annual climbing competition put on by the Idaho State University Outdoor Program. The competition started out in 1981 with 3 routes and a handful of climbers, and has grown into a premiere event in the region that boasts well over 100 routes and hundreds of climbers of all ages and ability levels!

The two day event provided many opportunities to connect with various members of the outdoor recreation community and talk about responsible outdoor recreation and the 7 program principles of Leave No Trace. Over the weekend we also had the pleasure of providing outreach at the Cooperative Wilderness Handicapped Outdoor Group fundraiser at the town park on Saturday evening!

Many thanks to Peter Joyce and all the staff and volunteers that made this weekend happen!

All the best,

Jason and Agata

Monday, September 19, 2011


This weekend, Team East joined thousands of whitewater enthusiasts at the Gauleyfest in Summersville, WV, presented by Subaru and American Whitewater.  Paddlers from all over the country came out to take on the rapids of the Gauley River, which boasts some of the best white water in the country.  With blue skies and white water, the paddlers were pumped to get on the river and enjoy the wet and wild adventure.
Team East set up an educational booth in the marketplace, where all of the paddlers enjoyed live music, screaming deals on outdoor gear, and had some fun learning about proper disposal of human waste while on the river.  Yep, that's right, we challenged all of the paddlers to leave no trace by playing Wag-go Baggo.  The goal was to toss three Go Anywhere Bags, formerly known as WAG bags, into a portable toilet.  If they made it in the bowl, they took home their very own Go Anywhere Bag to use on their next paddling adventure!
The excitement was so high that Bigfoot came out to join in on the fun and encourage everyone to practice Leave No Trace.  He tested out a few Dagger Kayaks, hung out with his friends at Subaru, and even signed up to win a pair of Chaco Sandals.  Although he did not win a pair of Chacos (he wasn't even sure if they had one in his size), he was so excited to see that Chaco donated a pair of shoes as a membership promotion to anyone who joined Leave No Trace as an individual member at the event! Thanks Chaco!
If you are a paddler and love the rush of whitewater, be sure to check out Gauleyfest next year.

Explore Responsibly...Kate and Tracy

Friday, September 16, 2011

Picture of the Week 9/16/11

United We Stand!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Leave No Trace in Salmon, ID

Salmon, ID -

Last weekend Team West was on the Salmon river in Idaho for a few events with our friends at the Student Conservation Association and organizational partner the Bureau of Land Management. The events were focused on teaching the seven principles of Leave No Trace and community outreach with the general public at the farmer's market in downtown Salmon, ID.

Above a photo of the volunteers who came out to work the booth at the weekly farmer's market. The volunteers brought a fresh perspective to teaching Leave No Trace and were greatly appreciated by Team West for their time and energy!

All the best,

Jason and Agata

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Whitewater Weekend!

Summersville, WV.

This weekend Team East will travel to Summersville, WV for the American Whitewater Gauley Fest.  This  fundraising event will support American Whitewater's river conservation and access works throughout the nation.  The festival began in 1983 to celebrate the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flow of the Gauley River.  It has grown to become the largest paddling festival in the world!  Presented by Subaru, this festival is sure to be full of excitement, awareness, and whitewater rapids!  The festival includes on-site camping, a marketplace, and live music.  Hope to see you there!

Explore and Paddle Responsibly...Kate & Tracy

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Glacier National Park Challenge!

Who can name all of the following animals and wildflowers?






Good luck,

Agata and Jason

Monday, September 12, 2011

L.L. Bean Fall Sports Weekend

 Freeport, ME.
Kate Bullock sips on a fresh cup of bean while posing with the iconic L.L. Bean boot in Freeport, ME.
The L.L. Bean flagship store has been a staple along Main St. in Freeport, ME for nearly a century.  In an effort to preserve environmental integrity, L.L. Bean has been a long standing supporter of the Leave No Trace program.  This weekend, Team East traveled to the L.L. Bean campus to provide outreach to tourists and locals alike during the annual Fall Sports Weekend.  The event highlighted fall sports including sea kayaking, hunting, fishing, rock climbing, and hiking through experiential workshops and informative seminars.  We would like to thank all the hospitable staff at L.L. Bean for making this weekend extremely successful.
All fueled up, Kate talks Leave No Trace campfires at the booth.
      What outdoor activities are you looking forward to this fall?

Explore Responsibly...Kate and Tracy

Friday, September 9, 2011

Picture of the Week 9/9/11

Hole in the Wall backcountry campsite, Glacier National Park -

Many thanks to program partner Cascade Designs for the comfortable accommodations on our most recent Leave No Trace adventure!

All the best,

Jason and Agata

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Talking PEAK with the Montana Wild Program

Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Helena, Montana -

Earlier this week Team West was back in the field for for a PEAK workshop with the Montana Wild after school program. During the afternoon session we had the chance to enjoy a few activities with the group that highlighted the seven program principles of Leave No Trace and talked about how to enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly!

Above two of the participants are comparing their ideas and experiences during the activity
"Minimum Impact Match". The participants were very knowledgeable and had lots of great stories to share and questions to ask during the over the afternoon session.

Many thanks to Laurie Evarts for inviting Leave No Trace to Helena, Montana.

All the best,

Jason and Agata

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bear Awareness in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, MT - Last week, Team West had the opportunity to venture into the backcountry of Glacier National Park for a 5-day trip. Backcountry trips usually take an incredible amount of preparation and in Glacier one of the additional things we had to plan for was the presence of Grizzly bears. After a summer full of tales of different encounters with bears, Ursus Arctos was in the forefront of our minds. The Glacier National Park website and the Backcountry Office in the park are amazing resources for learning more about backpacking in bear country. The first line of advice is always, "Don't Surprise Bears!" The suggestion is to clap and sing and basically make a lot of raucous while you're hiking. This sounds pretty easy when you read the suggestion at your computer, but after a whole day of hiking, especially if you're gaining elevation, shouting and singing definitely becomes a chore. We recommend working on your musical repertoire before you head out!

We began our trek at the Bowman Lake trailhead and literally five minutes into the hike, what do we spot but a black bear on the shore of the lake! We had been making plenty of noise, the bear heard us and jumped into the lake, but the reality of a bear encounter was reinforced by this encounter. We were even more cautious and recalled the other bear safety tips courtesy of the National Park Service. We made plenty of noise and were especially careful (and loud) near streams, in heavy vegetation, around blind corners, and when there was a rise in the trail.

The Glacier backcountry camps are set-up with bears in mind. They come equipped with man-made food poles and have a food-preparation area that is at least 100 yards away from the closest campsite. When we first arrived at camp we hung up our food and other bear attractants (cookware, toiletries, and garbage), and set up our tent in the designated tent area.

As we continued our hike, we continued to be vigilant and kept on singing. To learn more about hiking in bear country, check out this page from Glacier National Park.

While you enjoy bear country don't forget about other wildlife! At one camp we ran into a whitetail deer that enjoyed all the salty snacks campers had left for it, like their shorts, towels, socks, and boots.

All the best,

Agata and Jason

Monday, September 5, 2011

Principle Blog Series: Part 7 of 7-Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Be Considerate of Other Visitors is the 7th of 7 Leave No Trace Principles.  It is important to regard fellow visitors and respect the quality of their experience.  An easy way to do this is by following the yield triangle on a multi-use trail.  The above picture illustrates this concept.  Bikers yield to hikers, while both hikers and bikers yield to horses.  By practicing use of the yield triangle, user conflicts could be minimized in recreational areas.  Nature is a finite resource, not infinite.  Be considerate so that everyone can enjoy!  Here are some more pointers on ways to Be Considerate of Other Visitors:

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises

To learn more about Be Considerate of Other Visitors, CLICK HERE.

Explore Responsibly…Kate and Tracy

Friday, September 2, 2011

Picture of the Week 9/2/11

Hiking at Blue Hills, MA.  Kate takes a moment to point out the fragile mushrooms growing along side the trail to a Mommy and Me Hiking Club.