|Alex and Hal instruct the group at the start of the trip.
|Finding room in our packs for the group gear.
LNT consists of 7 principles:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors
|Lee presents on "Dispose of Waste Properly" on the hike.
Over the next two days, each of the eight participants presented on one of the seven LNT principles. We had two presentations addressing durable surfaces by the mother/daughter pair of Mary and Margo, with Margo presenting on travel on durable surfaces and Mary presenting later on camping on durable surfaces. Some of these presentations were along the trail, and some were at our camp for the night.
|Indy tells folks not to take stuff, even if it looks cool.
Hal and Alex brought a ton of LNT experience and history to the table and I feel lucky to have been guided by two people who have been practicing and teaching these principles for such a long time.
|Our elevation profile of both days' hikes.
I have been on a brief section of the Hazel Mountain Trail near our campsite once before, back in 2004 when I climbed up from a trailhead off of Route 231. But since there are no real landmarks along the way in this part of the park, I didn't realize at the time that I had passed through before. This is actually a pretty confusing area of the park. You have the Hazel Mountain Trail and the Hazel River Trail. And you have the Catlett Spur Trail and the Catlett Mountain Trail. You pass by the Buck Hollow Trail and the Buck Ridge Trail. We seemed to be passing by those concrete posts every ten minutes announcing new trail name variations!
But the area has some good backcountry camping spots, and that was the real reason we were back there. (I think that was probably the reason the eight or so others we came across were also in this part of the park.) We camped on a relatively level spot near the intersection of the Hazel Mountain Trail and the Catlett Mountain Trail. It was out of sight of the trails, as is recommended to leave no trace of your activity - camping in a spot visible from the trail encourages others to camp in the same spot, which quickly degrades the area.
|Lisa borrowed my camera and took the greatest photo. Here is Lee showing how to not harass wildlife.
Note he has his LNT card in his hand in case he forgets anything!
I learned what a Hennessy Hammock is like and how to get in one from Bruce. I have always been curious about what these are like and would love to try one overnight.
I learned about the PATC Trail Patrol from Murry. It sounds like a great way to volunteer!
I learned from Alex that real strict LNT would mean that everyone leaves their packs next to the kitchen area so they walk back to their tents less frequently, though thankfully our group did not practice this.
|Margo checks her feet for insect bites.
In back, Alex, Murry and Lisa
assesses a recent presentation.
Jay told us about the history of Philmont Scout Reservation which he first visited in 1961, and Lee was once a ranger there.
Alex reminded me that my decision in high school not to join my Explorer post on its journey to Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior might not have been the best one I have made in my life.
|Dayglow hiker with son (in hat) and friend on a May PATC hike to South River Falls.
Note the absence of any wildlife in the photo!
Mary taught me that some kinds of sleep aids really do help in the backcountry, even if Margo thinks her mom is a "pusher." And Mary also taught me that Ambien is best taken just before going to bed and not if you plan to stay up in your tent giggling with Margo and Lisa (as she did).
And because Ambien has been linked to bizzare sleepwalking behavior, if anybody needs to talk to me about late night incoherent tent visits or wildlife harassment, I am blaming Mary!
Lisa taught me about the subject of her master's pursuit: Eco-Psychology, which seems like a pretty interesting profession.
From Hal I learned that digging a cathole too deep means that there will be no organic matter and what you leave in the hole will stay there forever. Ugh!
|Our water hunting
and Croc finding run.