20161118 Tread Lightly Principles – Part Two

Carrizo Plain NM
Carrizo Plain NM

There is nothing quite like waking up with the sun gently filtering into your tent, the cool morning air urging you to get up. There is nothing better than that first cup of coffee while out in the back country and I strongly feel that the smell of bacon cooking in the great outdoors is one of life’s greatest pleasures. For many families, camping has become somewhat of a budget friendly tradition. Camping is perhaps the original ecotourism, a couple of days camping and you can gain a greater appreciation for nature, gain personal enrichment and environmental awareness. Combine that with the potential for exercise and education and you have all the ingredients for a great family vacation.

But the choices you make can have an effect on the environment and can actually inflict harm onto the area in which you camp. Here is where the Tread Lightly principles come into play. Here are ten ways you can minimize negative impacts when camping…


1.  Whenever possible, use existing campsites and camp on durable surfaces and place tents on a non-vegetated area. Creating new sites can permanently scar the landscape and removing plants promotes erosion that can further damage the area.

Mahogany Flats Campground – Death Valley NP

2.  Camp a least 200 feet from water so that you don’t disturb wildlife that may rely on that water and when camping in the backcountry disperse your campsite at least 200 feet from trails and other campsites to minimize impact.

Bachelor Wash – Mojave NP

3.  Pack out what you pack in and carry a trash bag to pick up litter left by others. If possible, take the garbage and recyclables home for disposal. Do not leave garbage at your campsite as this attracts animals and conditions them to think of humans as sources of food.

4img_2132Consider food options with minimal packaging or repack your foods in resealable, reusable containers to reduce the amount of trash you generate.

5.  For cooking, consider using a camp stove instead of a campfire. Camp stoves create less of an impact on the land and are much more efficient.

6.  img_1693Observe all fire restrictions and observe all rules regarding fires according to the area that you are camping in. If you build a fire, use existing fire rings or use a fire pan. If allowed, use only fallen timber for campfires, do not cut standing trees or limbs. Keep a 10-foot diameter area around the campfire clear of any flammable materials and make sure there aren’t any tree limbs or flammable objects hanging overhead.

7.  Allow the wood to burn down to a fine ash, if possible. Pour water on the fire and drown all embers until the hissing sound stops. Stir the campfire ashes and embers until everything is wet and cold to the touch. If you don’t have water, use dirt.

8.  Detergents, toothpaste and soap can harm fish and other aquatic life. Try to use a biodegradable, plant-based soap so it won’t harm the surrounding environment. Keep grey water 200 feet away from water sources and scatter your gray water so it filters through the soil and to avoid attracting animals directly to your site.photogrid_1477030084257

9.  imagesIn areas without toilets, use a portable latrine if possible and pack out your waste. If you don’t have a portable latrine, you may need to bury your waste. Human waste should be disposed of in a shallow hole six to eight inches deep at least 200 feet from water sources, campsites or trails. Cover and disguise the hole with natural materials. It is recommended to pack out your toilet paper. High use areas may have other restrictions, so be aware of local regulations.

10.  Following a trip, wash your gear and vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.


There you have it, ten tips so you can go camping and reduce your impact on the environment! If we all do our part to Tread Lightly, we can all enjoy our wonderful outdoors together. Thanks for reading and remember to find your adventure where ever you may wander!

Follow us on instagram @adventurenotincluded or for photos of our adventures, check out our Flickr account here.

20161112 – Tread Lightly Principles – Part One

As promised, here is the first of a two part series discussing the Tread Lightly principles… to be honest when we first starting heading out to explore the great outdoors I had never heard of the Tread Lightly principles and when I finally did hear about them I didn’t pay much attention. For the most part we tried to be conscientious when we were outdoors but some of the things we learned just from being out there. Now as more and more people are heading outside for the first time to enjoy their National Parks and backcountry there is a greater need than ever for all of us to be aware of and follow these simple guidelines so that all of us can enjoy the natural beauty and majesty of the outdoors. The Tread Lightly principles help us to minimize our impact to the environment and teach responsible outdoor etiquette. For more information please go to www.treadlightly.org to learn more tips or how you can be more involved in stewardship projects.tl-logo

Travel Responsibly by staying on designated roads and trails. If possible, go over obstacles instead of going around and widening the trail. Cross streams only at designated areas and minimize splashing and stirring up sediments. When possible, avoid wet or muddy trails to reduce erosion and rutting. When on water, stay on designated waterways and launch your watercraft in designated areas.

Turn off on the Burr Trail in Canyonlands NP

Respect the Rights of Others including private property owners, recreational trail users, campers and others so they can enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed. While on designated trails or roads, leave gates open or closed as you found them. Yield right of way to those passing you or going uphill and understand trail sharing etiquette. When on water, respect anglers, swimmers, skiers, boaters, divers and those on or near the shore.

Trail Sharing

Educate Yourself prior to your trip by obtaining maps of the area and get to know the restrictions and regulations from public agencies for where you are going. Plan for your trip by taking recreational skills classes, checking the weather forecast and familiarize yourself with your equipment and how to operate it safely.

topo maps are very useful

Avoid Sensitive Areas such as meadows, lake shores, wetlands and streams. Stay on designated routes to protect yourself and wildlife habitats and sensitive soils from damage. Do not disturb historical or archeological sites. When on water, avoid operating your watercraft in shallow water or near shorelines at high speeds.

Petroglyphs in Mojave NP

Do Your Part by modeling responsible behavior by leaving the area better than you found it. You can do this by properly disposing of waste and trash, minimize the use of open fires, avoid the spread of invasive plants and animals and avoiding damage to sensitive areas.mojave-wander-044

The next part of this series will cover some specifics for applying Tread Lightly principles while camping. Thanks for reading and remember to find your adventure where ever you may wander!

Follow us on instagram @adventurenotincluded or for photos of our adventures, check out our Flickr account here.

20161107 – How to Properly Use a Pit Toilet

With an upcoming car camping trip planned for this month and with some of you never having camped before, I thought I’d go over a subject that few others would probably talk to you about. It’s not that it isn’t important, it is very important but some of these things come automatically and some are learned over the years. The first thing to remember is that a pit toilet is your friend. You may not think of it but without that pit toilet you may well be faced with some of life’s crueler options to relieve oneself… the port-a-potty for one… and the field toilet, bag in a bucket as another. For me personally, digging a hole in the ground is much preferable to either one but after being in rural China and seeing the concrete ditch with no walls option, I am happy with a pit toilet. That being said, it is a gamble every time you approach one of these concrete bunkers… Is this a pristine, rarely used but regularly maintained toilet? Or is this a heavily trafficked and disgusting pit of human suffering? You can never tell… pittoilet

So here are eight things to remember when visiting your friendly neighborhood pit toilet:

  1.  Look down but don’t linger… it’s good to take a quick look down to make sure it’s not flooded or overflowing. Getting splashed by that brine of human waste would certainly ruin your day but no need to stare, you won’t find anything of value down there, trust me…

    Are you going to go down and get it?
  2. Lock the door. This may seem like a slam dunk but with all the nervousness of trying to remember the 8 items on this list you might forget and if you do you’ll certainly ruin someone else’s day as well.keep-calm-and-lock-the-door-2
  3. Check for toilet paper. Or even better, bring your own! I always carry toilet paper in the car for just that reason, just as an example, on our last group camping trip we managed to go through all five rolls that were in the toilet at the beginning of our trip. If you didn’t bring any, even though I strongly suggested it, you may have had to go begging among your fellow campers.imag2995_thumb3
  4. Secure your belongings… Don’t sit down yet! Make sure that all hats, glasses, cameras, cellphone, etc are secure and won’t tumble into the ever after, and if it does, well that leads us to the next item…

    This here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!
  5. Don’t throw trash down there. Most likely there will be a sign stating just that, don’t be an idiot, don’t do it. Everything that goes down there must be brought back out via a huge vacuum and trash can stop up the process. Imagine the work needed to UNSTOP that trash that’s now stuck in the vacuum. I’d rather not think about that… blogpittoiletsign
  6. Breathe through your mouth and take shallow breaths. I shouldn’t have to explain that you are sitting on a mountain of human waste and taking deep breaths through your nose would be an exceedingly bad idea. This is not the time to compose an Instagram post, be efficient and get out of there, especially when you have others waiting to use the same toilet!texting_on_the_toilet_bathroom_without_my_phone_was_weird
  7. Put down the cover. Again, this might seems small but I’m disgusted every time I enter a pit toilet and the lid is wide open. Keeping the lid closed keeps the odor of a thousand bowel movements somewhat contained and it also keeps the number of flies down. Yes, that same fly that just landed on your sandwich… Gross? Yup! so CLOSE THE LID!2fe3053900000578-3388799-image-a-10_1452179741419
  8. Bring hand sanitizer. If you are using a pit toilet you are most likely in an area that does not have running water so hand sanitizer is an essential item. Occasionally there is a dispenser of sanitizer there by the door but about half the time I find these are empty so it’s better to bring your own.dirty_hands

There you have it, that wasn’t so bad was it? Now you are fully prepared to take on the pit toilets of the world and be a little more appreciative of their existence. Thanks for reading and remember to find your adventure where ever you may wander!

Follow us on instagram @adventurenotincluded or for photos of our adventures, check out our Flickr account here.