I have always had a love for nature, animals and the outdoors, spending my childhood playing outside and exploring our family farm in Idaho. But, it wasn’t until I met my husband here in Nevada that I found my love for outdoor, back country adventures. We camp often and usually in primitive conditions. I’m a big fan of dispersed camping alone on public lands rather than official public campground camping with others. But that is just me.
Dispersed camping means you absolutely have to pack out every single thing that you pack in and is the true definition of “leave no trace” outdoor recreation. There are no containers to leave your garbage, there are no fire pits to build a fire, there are no toilet facilities, and no one is going to come behind you to clean up your mess. But I love the solitude of it and the beautiful back country places we have been able to see and enjoy.
I was first introduced to the concept of “leave no trace” camping long before I began working here at Nevada Outdoor School. My family has been very fortunate to take private white water rafting trips on a few rivers here in the West, but my favorite is Hells Canyon on the Snake River hugging the borders of northeastern Oregon and western Idaho. We have been lucky to experience floating quietly through this beautiful and breathtaking landscape many times and each time I experience something new and exciting. It is the deepest river gorge in North America and the upper section of Hells Canyon is designated as a “wild and scenic” national recreation area where the goal is to pass through the area and leave no trace that we were there, which is a challenge with the growing number of visitors to the recreation area each year.
The continued use of this unique environment is largely dependent upon us, the users, and thoughtful and appropriate behavior by all is essential to the protection of the canyon’s outstanding aesthetic and environmental values. It is essential to the continued protection and use of all of our public lands while observing and preserving fragile cultural and natural resources. We still cook our meals – with gas or charcoal in a portable fire pan. We still use the toilet, we just pack it from camp to camp as we travel along the river then pack it out. And we pack out every single piece of garbage and gear that we brought with us.
They truly are simple principles to follow if you really value and love the outdoors and here at Nevada Outdoor School we work hard to spread the message of responsible recreation through our Outdoor Ethics programs providing Leave no Trace and Tread Lightly trainings and outreach all across Nevada to the benefit public land use all across this great country. We can provide these outdoor education opportunities it individuals, groups or agencies for free thanks to the generous financial support of the BLM, Nevada State Parks Recreational Trails Program and the Nevada OHV Commission. For more information on our Outdoor Ethics programs and training opportunities, contact Katie Fithian, Outdoor Ethics Program Director here at NOS.