Leave No Trace
Why to treat nature like an old friend and leave no trace.
I remember my first experience with a state park. I was a Brownie, an entry level Girl Scout. My mom was a troop leader and we had summer day camp at the state park where I grew up. I fell in love with nature that summer.
When I got my driver’s license, I drove out to the park every chance I got. That park is where I went to think through the labyrinth of teenage dilemmas. Nature equaled wisdom and being surrounded by wisdom just made sense.
As an adult, I joined my friends on camping weekends. I cherish memories of sitting around a campfire under a canopy of stars surrounded by friends laughing at a bad joke. The sounds of laughter from other campsites made us all families of nature.
My parents gave my husband and I a pop-up camper for our wedding gift. It quickly became our favorite and most used wedding gift. We towed that pop-up through dozens of states to camp in national and state parks. The peace and serenity of being in nature is very romantic.
On a recent visit with my mom and sister, we went to the state park with a picnic lunch. There were families everywhere, kids playing and running around the park, hikers, cyclists, anglers and some just setting under the shade of an old tree. All ages, all colors, all walks of life were there celebrating the wisdom of nature.
Making sure our parks and natural areas are around to share their wisdom for centuries is our obligation, a thank you for all nature shares with us. I believe in the seven principles of Leave No Trace. They are all common sense. Every park I have visited in my life feels like an old friend, the kind you can go years without talking to and when you do it’s like no time has passed.
I treat nature like a treasured old friend. Good people take care of old friends so please follow these simple, common sense principles of the right way to treat your old friend nature…
Your trip will be a lot more pleasant with a little planning. Know what the weather is going to be, know what supplies you’re going to need, get to know the lay of the land, be prepared to leave no trace of your visit.
Stay on the trail. This will protect you and your old friend nature.
Would you go to your friend’s house and spread your garbage on their yard? Of course not, so don’t do it on your old friend nature’s yard.
Would you help yourself to your friend’s possessions? Of course not, so don’t take nature’s possessions. Leave the stones, trees, plants and artifacts there for the next visitor to discover. No carving your initials into trees or stones or stacking stones either. Take a picture, it lasts longer.
There’s no need for a bonfire. A small, responsibly managed campfire makes the canopy of stars far more visible. For backpack camping consider a small campstove. There’s no need to haul wood and you won’t run the risk of not being able to cook dinner. Speaking of wood…buy it where you burn it.
Let’s face it, no one wants to be the idiot in the viral video getting chased by a bear. Leave wildlife alone. Hmmm, maybe that’s why they call them WILD life.
You may love Van Halen blasting from your iPhone but don’t make everyone else listen. Respect the parents of young kids trying to get them to sleep. Respect the solo traveler absorbing the peace and wisdom of nature. Behave as you would in any sacred space. Be nice.
Everyone should enjoy the beautiful Hocking Hills State Park. It is a magnificent natural world. More than 4 million people enjoy the park every year. Everyone must do their part to protect this treasure to ensure the continued enjoyment of everyone.
Before you visit any natural area, whether its for an hour or a week, get familiar with the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace; https://lnt.org/ Help out your old friend nature. It’s the least we can do considering all nature has given us.