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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Combine and WIN!

Colorado Bend State Park, Texas:

We've tried to get this quasi-sport to happen for us and until recently it just had not panned out. This past weekend the stars aligned and finally we can say that we bike-backpacked! Thank you Colorado Bend State Park for allowing the combination of two great things. One point of advice... bring your padded bike shorts, or be ready for some intense bicycle butt.

Recreate your recreation,
Mark and Tara

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Partnership in Action

Cortez, CO.  A long standing partner and supporter of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, Osprey Packs, Inc.  holds a Kid's Essay Contest every year.  This year, Osprey is seeking great writing that highlights kid's very best adventures with a pack and demonstrates an understanding of the principles of Leave No Trace.  The winner of the contest has their choice of a pack in the Sprint Series- all of which have the seven Leave No Trace principles screened into the pack.  Here is the first winning essay from the contest:   

Our latest Kid's Essay Contest Winner
Justin Todes!

A Life-Changing Experience
By Justin Todes (15 yrs. old)

                As a Cub Scout, I always enjoyed camping in the outdoors.  I loved nature’s sounds, sights, and opportunities.  I worked my way up to Wolf and Bear before entering Webelos, when my love for the outdoors only grew.  Campouts were now once a month instead of twice a year, and the activities were increasingly exciting.
                The two amazing years of Webelos went by quickly, and it was soon time for me to join a Boy Scout Troop.  In April of 2008, I joined Troop 599, The Thunderbirds, and easily fell in love with Boy Scouting.  Now Scouting was more independent, more fun, and more meaningful.  Later that year, I was introduced to backpacking at a Wilderness Survival outing.  At this time, I did not know much about how or what to pack, or even the concept of backpacking.  Due to much discomfort from my gear and poor packing method, the outing was not a pleasurable experience.  This however, did not halt my backpacking endeavors.  Our Troop soon began educating us on proper backpacking, with emphasis on Leave No Trace, which motivated me to get back up and give it another chance as I began doing training hikes in late 2009 for a backpacking journey in mid-2010.  I had learned how to pack light (packing light is packing right), as well as what was essential to pack (and what is not).  This led to a comfortable backpacking experience, and I soon began to fall in love with backpacking.
                In July of 2010, I ventured off with a crew of 11 others from my Scout Troop to Philmont Scout Ranch, a vast, scenic, mountainous piece of land in northern New Mexico.  Two weeks of beautiful country lie ahead of us, and with those two weeks, 65 miles of backpacking.  I was Crew Leader, which added to my experience at Philmont in a very positive way, teaching me leadership and patience, in addition to some new outdoor skills.  Day by day, we hiked through Philmont, summiting mesas and mountains, crossing creeks (sometimes as many as fifty-three times), and enjoying the lush, green forests surrounding us.
                For our first three days at Philmont, a ranger guided us and taught our crew how to do things “The Philmont Way.”  This essentially came from the seven principles of Leave No Trace.  Specifically at Philmont, each campsite has a “Bearmuda Triangle.”  In one corner of the “triangle” is the fire ring and dining fly.  In another corner are bear lines on which bear bags are hung (smellables go in the bear bags).  In the final corner, for proper disposal of waste, is a sump.  A sump strains wastewater, storing the water in the ground and leaving food particles, etc. to be properly disposed of.    Fifty feet away from the dining fly was the tent area.  The sump was at least 200 feet away from the tents.
Our ranger taught how to hang bear bags, to protect us from the bears and to protect the bears from becoming dependent on human food.  This in a sense falls under Respecting Wildlife.  Our ranger also taught us about campfires.  We learned that fires only should be made in a fire ring (concentrated impact), and that the fire must be completely put out once everyone goes to bed.  The next morning, the ashes from the fire must be scattered along the trail for the first thirty minutes of hiking.  Finally, we learned about waste.  “Pack it in, pack it out” is a common phrase in the backcountry, especially at Philmont.  Any trash we produced had to come with us until we reached a staffed camp, where we could dispose of it.  However, minimizing waste is not as simple as this.  It also relates to the Bearmuda Triangle.
Meals the Philmont way were not exactly pleasant.  The “just add water” food was fine.  It was later on, after eating, when things got ugly.  To reduce waste (or at least waste we carried out), we had to pour water into our bowls after we were “finished” and drink the water, food particles and all.  I quickly learned how to drink this while avoiding my tongue.  Anything else left in our bowls was licked clean before washing.  With our pots, two crewmembers each night were given the torturous task of pot scraping.  This task involved eating any food left in the pot, and then scraping the pot clean (eating your scrapings as well).  The remaining bits in the pot were later removed with boiling water.  Using the sump, the water was strained.  The food particles on top of the sump’s screen went into “yum-yum bags,” special Zip-loc bags with the task of collecting these food particles, which were carried out as trash.  While minimizing waste was not necessarily fun, our crew managed to survive the two weeks of drinking cheese-water, oatmeal-water, Mexican beef fajita water, among several others.
Despite drinking these mysterious concoctions, the scenery was amazing.  Whether tall mountains, spacious canyons, or trickling streams, we still want to preserve the beauty contained within each.  Leave No Trace is an extremely important element of being in the outdoors.  Philmont was a gift that God gave to us.  Our way of thanking God is to maintain Philmont.  By implementing Leave No Trace, Philmont can and will be maintained.  Leave No Trace is what makes it possible for the land today to still exist for generations to come.  Just as those who have come before us have kept Philmont beautiful, we too can play a part and do the same.
Justin won an Aether 70 Men's Lightweight Pack.

To find out more about the essay contest, click here.
Thank you to Osprey for their continued support and to all of you that practice Leave No Trace!

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Getting the Whole Picture:

Whole Earth Provision Company, Dallas, Texas.

We always love when people get the whole picture. We visited the Dallas Whole Earth Provision Company earlier this week, and will be at both their Austin store on Lamar and main offices coming up this Wednesday the 29th. The attendees to our program will be hitting trails and green spaces in their communities with a better understanding of how to interact with other outdoor lovers that might need a little help in leaving less of a trace. What people want, we try to provide, and the folks in Dallas were looking for a bit more insight into Authority of the Resource. Ever wonder how to approach someone who might be impacting mother nature, or another visitor's experience? Check out the article linked above and hone your soft skills on behalf of the planet.

If you can't make our Whole Earth Provision workshop in Austin, we'll also be at their San Antonio store coming up on March 5th. Did we mention those who attend our Whole Earth workshops will get a $10 gift certificate to use in the store? Not that you need any more motivation than a good solid love for the out of doors;) See you there.

Recreate your recreation.
Mark and Tara

Texas Trainers:

Pedernales Falls and McKinney Falls State Parks, Texas.

Team West of the Subaru / Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers have been adding to the faithful ranks of Trainers in the Lone Star State. Trainer Courses were held at Pedernales Falls State Park and McKinney Falls State Park last week. Our participants are heavily involved in serving the recreating public. City of Austin Park Rangers will be taking outdoor ethics to the green spaces and bike paths that keep that city outside and playing. Scouting leaders are returning to their troops and families with expanded tool kits to effectively plant the seed of stewardship with our younger generations. Camp Fire USA staff will have more activities to keep kids critically thinking outside, rather than plugged in inside. Folks at Texas Outdoor Family will have the chance to instill the ideas of the Seven Leave No Trace Principles to those who may be just forming their own outdoor ethic. Tara and Mark have truly enjoyed facilitating these courses that will allow all of the participants to share the idea of responsible recreation with those they care about, and those they have not yet met.

A special thanks to Nick Hirsch and Lindsey Davis for providing the legwork for these trainings to occur. Without people to put an idea into action, there is only an idea. Thank you!

Recreate your recreation,
Mark and Tara

Monday, February 20, 2012

Outreach at Georgia Tech

Atlanta, GA.  Today, Team East is going back to college!  That's right, we are visiting Georgia Institute of Technology- Georgia Tech- to work with the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORGT) on campus.  ORGT offers numerous programs throughout the year, from caving to backpacking, kayaking to rock climbing.  As one of the best outdoor programs in the country, ORGT is dedicated to educating their students about the skills and ethics of Leave No Trace.
Outdoor Recreation Programs, like ORGT, have an opportunity to be a positive influence in many university students' lives.  By incorporating leave no trace education into their already existing outdoor programs, ORGT can instill a strong outdoor ethic in their students and help build the cadre of life-long stewards of the land.
Tonight, Team East will be at the ORGT, located in the back of the Campus Recreation Center, for an awareness workshop to train their guides and staff.  The program begins at 6pm.  On Tuesday evening, we will offer a second workshop for anyone who is interested in learning about Leave No Trace and the outdoor programs at ORGT.  Come on down to the Campus Recreation Center at 6pm!

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy

Monday, February 13, 2012

Plastic Water Bottle Ban at Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, AZ.   Every one of us can make a difference by making small changes to better the environment.  This past week,  Grand Canyon National Park passed a plan to ban the sales of individual plastic water bottles at the park.  The park's plan calls for the elimination of the sale of water packaged in individual disposable containers of less than one gallon, including plastic bottles and various types of boxes.  The waste associated with disposable bottles comprises an estimated 20 percent of the park's overall waste stream and 30 percent of the park's recyclables.

 The park has seen an increased amount of trash along the rim trails and strewn about the inner canyon.  Seeing trash can diminish the experience of enjoying the view from the rim and the overall experience of visitors to the park.  With close to 5 million annual visitors to the canyon, it is so important to practice Leave No Trace and dispose of waste properly!  To read more about the plan, click here.

Next time you visit the Grand Canyon, be sure to bring your reusable water bottle.  Better yet, every time you are outdoors, make a difference by using a reusable water bottle!    

Respect the Resource...Kate and Tracy