Leave No Trace During Winter Camping - Panergy
The Leave No Trace focus is a salient topic if we want to keep our woods, our fields, and our world in the same condition that it is currently in. The numbers of campers and hikers out in the wild during the winter months are much smaller than the rest of the year, but that does not mean the Leave No Trace focus is less important. In fact, some aspects of Leave No Trace are more important in the Winter.
First, let's do a quick recap on what Leave No Trace is. Leave No Trace is a standard to ensure that when we go out into nature, we do not make it worse by doing so. Things like littering, starting (uncontrolled) fires, and vandalism are all obvious things to avoid. But even things like walking off of trails and wearing perfume can have negative effects.
In Winter some of these things are lessened. For instance, in the summer, especially when it is raining, it is very important to stay on trails. Trails are hard, packed places of earth that can handle people walking on them. If you walk off of the trail you can be breaking up important and delicate pieces of vegetation. This can actually kill certain plants and get rid of food sources for animals. But in the winter the ground is frozen and hard, so it's less of a concern. Even with that being said, it does not mean the ground and the would-be vegetation are impervious to our actions, we still must pick our locations wisely.
The thing about picking your locations, for campsites and for walking, is that you don't know what's under the snow. Simply walking across the ground may not do too much to what is below, even in fragile situations, but camping on top of delicate ground that may grow unique plants later on can be devastating. Most places have mapped our campsites, so use them.
One of the main aspects of Leave No Trace is the idea of planning ahead. When you plan ahead, you prepare yourself for what you might find. When you are prepared you take a lot of pressure off the locations you are visiting. In the winter all of this still applies. Heck, some places are more dangerous, to you, in the winter, so when you prepare, you are protecting yourself from having to use the landscapes in a negative way.
A lot of people, for some reason, tend to think they can leave more waste behind in the winter than usual. Maybe it's because the snow quickly covers it from sight. But the snow will melt and then it will be out in the open. And it will have sat there for a long time, allowing it to do damage to the environment. Because you can easily leave things behind in the winter, as things can get covered quickly, it is very important to practice good waste removal. If you bring something into the woods, you must carry it out.
Respect the world around you and the people in it. This is the key to Leave No Trace Ethics. When you take the mindset of striving to waste as little as possible you will achieve it. This is the world we live in, these are the locations we choose to visit. It is our duty to make sure, in 100 years from now, others may do the same.