A (not-so) great campsite?

A great-looking camping spot isn’t necessarily a good camping spot. This site was a good lesson in what happens when you violate principle 2… We pitched our tent far too close to the creek, the ground was damp, and cold moist air made for a chilly night plus a wet tent the next morning. This site was adequate for two for one night, but would have been trashed by a longer stay or a larger group. We should have picked a more durable surface at least 60 m away from the creek. Next time we’ll camp higher up in the meadows.

Brandywine is one of those areas that’s being loved to death – the meadows are wet for much of the summer and too many people seek a drier route which just creates a maze of muddy paths. Hopefully the new trail will bed in nicely and the mud pits can begin to heal. And don’t camp here 🙂

A great-looking camping spot isn't necessarily a good camping spot. Following @happiestoutdoors in this week's #LeaveNoTraceTuesday, this site was a good lesson in what happens when you violate principle 2… We put our tent far too close to the creek, the ground was damp, and cold moist air made for a chilly night plus a wet tent the next morning. This site was adequate for two for one night, but would have been trashed by a longer stay or a larger group. We should have picked a more durable surface at least 60 m away from the creek. Next time we'll camp higher up in the meadows. Brandywine is one of those areas that's being loved to death – the meadows are wet for much of the summer and too many people seek a drier route which just creates a maze of muddy paths. Hopefully the new trail will bed in nicely and the mud pits can begin to heal. And don't camp here 🙂 #BrandywineMeadows #hiking #backpacking #explorebc #explorecanada #mecnation #mec #bigagnes #blacktusk #alpine #meadows #wilderness #camping #leavenotrace #lnt

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

One of the people I follow on Instagram is a certified Leave No Trace (LNT) instructor, and a few weeks back she started a new hashtag to raise awareness of the principles. Each “LeaveNoTraceTuesday” is aimed at highlighting one or more of the ideas behind LNT. This week was about principle number two, travelling and camping on durable surfaces.

Having spent a few years exploring the BC backcountry, I feel very strongly about LNT and wish more people were aware of it and followed its principles. Personally I derive a great deal of satisfaction from being able to look back at a place I’ve visited or camped, and see no evidence that I was there. I’ve also read some crazily intense disagreements about how prescriptive LNT is (or appears to be), but in my view these were caused exclusively by the objectors over-interpreting (even being insulted by) the principles.

To my thinking, the main point behind LNT is that the alpine backcountry is fragile and simply cannot deal with hundreds (or thousands) of humans tramping all over it – the growing season is simply too short for plants to recover. (Actually the same is true even at sea-level – look at any field after a festival.) If you’re in an area where almost no one visits, then you can get away with disregarding one or more of the principles. The problem is that if everyone did that, the alpine would be destroyed. And then the broken-window theory kicks in – if people come to an area that doesn’t look cared-for then they too will not be inspired to care for it.

So in the end my advice is to learn about LNT, seek to understand the thinking behind the concepts. At the end of the day it boils down to a simple message: just do your best to affect an area as little as possible.

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