Timber Wolf, Lake Superior, Ontario

A lone timber wolf greets
paddlers along the north shore
of Lake Superior, Canada
(Photo by Michael Neiger)

A thing is right
when it tends
to preserve the integrity,
stability and beauty of
the biotic community.
It is wrong
when it tends otherwise.
   -- Aldo Leopold


love of the land,
lacks meaning
or purpose,
for only in a deep
and inherent feeling
for the land
can their be
in preserving it.
   -- Sigurd F. Olson


Being a
wilderness enthusiast
is a lot like
sitting on an ice floe.
Every day
the floe gets smaller
as pieces break off
and float away.
You know
that it will continue
to get smaller
day by day,
never bigger.
That is the reality
that all lovers
of wild lands
have to face.
   -- Bill Mason


Sweet is the lore which
  Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous
  forms of things:--
We murder to dissect.
   -- William Wordsworth,
   English Romantic Poet,
  The Tables Turned--An
  Evening Scene on
  the Same Subject

The Rucksack Masthead
By Michael A. Neiger (aka: LandNavMan), Marquette, Michigan
Wilderness tripper: backpacking, winter camping, swift-water canoeing
Web site URL: http://therucksack.tripod.com • E-mail: mneiger@hotmail.com
Contents copyright © 1984-2007 by Michael A. Neiger • All rights reserved.

Leave No Trace Logo

Bush skills

By Michael A. Neiger
Copyright 2001

Last updated on December 5, 2009

Contents of page

   Low impact wilderness tripping

Looking for
wilderness tripping
equipment and
For 100's of sources for wilderness tripping equipment and supplies, visit the sources for gear page on this Web site.

Need help
finding a book?
Trying to buy a new or used copy of a book, but can't locate one? Want to find a library somewhere in the country that will lend you the book at no cost? Then visit the handy book finder page on this Web site.

a book, catalog,
or Web site.
If you know of a useful outdoor-related book, catalog, or Web site not listed on this Web site, e-mail the book's title, subtitle, author, publisher, date of publication, and short description; or the catalog's address and phone number; or the Web site's URL to Michael Neiger at mneiger@hotmail.com.

** Recommended




On your last wilderness trip, did discarded cigarette butts, scarred trees, or trash-filled fire rings spoil the view? Did pieces of toilet paper--or possibly even unburied feces--compel you to pass up an otherwise pristine spot?

If so, make sure you're not unknowingly contributing to the problem. Always practice low-impact, leave-no-trace techniques when in the wilderness. By adhering to some relatively simply guidelines, you'll be able to preserve the wilderness experience for the generations of trekkers who'll follow in your footsteps.

If you pack it in, pack it out

Cans, bottles, aluminum foil, and other non-burnable items should always be packed out. Don't bury them or leave them in a fire ring. Try to leave an area cleaner and neater than you found it. Pack out any trash you see.

Take only pictures; leave only footprints

Avoid scarring trees with nails or "constructing" rustic camp furniture. Don't cut standing trees or browse. Avoid "trenching" around your tent. Artifacts, plants, trees, and rocks should remain undisturbed. Avoid marking your route with blazes, surveyor's tape, or fluorescent tacks.

Bury feces, toilet paper, & soapy wash water

Human feces, pet waste, toilet paper, and soapy wash water should be buried in a six-inch-deep cat hole dug 200 feet (or 75 right-foot paces) away from campsites, trails, water sources, and any area likely to be visited by others. To further reduce your impact on the environment, use biodegradable toilet paper like the RV-type available from Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and other camping outlets. Avoid burning toilet paper in snow-free areas as many a disastrous fire has been started this way.

Keep in mind that sand, leaves, and pine needles are great, natural alternatives to soap for all but the greasy pot. If you absolutely must use soap, use a small amount of biodegradable soap and avoid the temptation to rinse off in a river or lake. Instead, rinse off with water from your cooking pot and water bottles well back from shore. If you're looking for a great selection of biodegradable soaps, contact REI at 1-800-426-4840, or point your Internet browser to http://www.rei.com.

Use a stove; keep fires small

To avoid scarring rocks, depleting wood resources, and creating unsightly charred areas, carry a lightweight backpacking stove. In the evening, try socializing around a candle lantern or two instead of a campfire.

If you decide to build a fire, protect the ground from scarring by laying down a six-inch-thick layer of sand or mud. Keep the fire small, and burn every piece of wood completely so unsightly charred logs are not left behind.

Always extinguish your fire so that after stirring, the coals are cool to the touch. Next, pulverize the coals into a fine ash and broad-scatter them where they're not likely to be spotted by others. To ensure that you leave no trace of your fire, return the protective layer of sand or mud to its original location.

By adhering to these simple, low-impact, leave-no-trace techniques, you can help keep the "wild" in your favorite wilderness.

See you in the bush.




Leave No Trace, Inc.
   A treasure trove of information

Leave No Trace--Outdoor Ethics & Skills for Outdoor Users, by Chris Conway

Outdoor Activities Guide to Leave No Trace Camping Resources, by Rick Curtis

Principles of Leave No Trace for outdoor adventures, by Boy Scouts of America

Tread Lightly

Wilderness Manners, by the Sierra Club
   (or search "Wilderness Manners" at http://www.sierraclub.org)




Backwoods Ethics--Environmental Issues for Hikers and Campers, 2nd edition, revised, by Laura Waterman and Guy Waterman (Countryman Press, 1993). A very well-written, insightful, and thought-provoking book.

Basic Essentials of Minimizing Impact on the Wilderness, by Michael Hodgson (ICS Books, Inc., 1991)

How to Build a Better Outdoors, by Bill Vogt (David McKay, 1978)

How to Shit in the Woods--An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art, by Kathleen Meyer (Ten Speed Press, 1994)

Leave No Trace--A Practical Guide to the New Wilderness Etiquette, by Annette McGivney (The Mountaineers, 1998)

Leave No Trace!--An Outdoor Ethic, pamphlet FS-520 (USFS, 1992)

Leave No Trace--Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation, by Will Harmon (Falcon Publishing Company, Inc., 1997)

Low-impact Recreational Practices for Wilderness and Backcountry (General Technical Report LNT-265), by David N. Cole (USFS, 1989)

Minimum Impact Camping--A Basic Guide, by Curt Schatz and Dan Seemon (Adventure Publications, 1994)

**Soft Paths--How to Enjoy the Wilderness Without Harming it, by David Cole and Bruce Hampton (NOLS/Stackpole Books, 1995)

Teaching Leave No Trace--Activities for Teaching Responsible Outdoor Skills (Leave No Trace, Inc.)

Wilderness Ethics--Preserving the Spirit of Wilderness, by Laura Waterman and Guy Waterman (Countryman Press, 1993)

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In God's wilderness lies the hope of the world,
the great, fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.
— John Muir 1838-1914, Alaska Wilderness, 1890

Content Copyright © by Michael A. Neiger
All rights reserved.
Comments? Suggestions? Dead links? Inaccurate info?
Contact the WebMaster at mneiger@hotmail.com