Leave No Trace has Entered the Building

The Exit Strategies has come and gone but the message is beginning to rebound and the subsequent concentric ripples are rolling through a larger and larger realm.

This blogger won’t go through the details and reports from the conference. There are plenty of those on the AAC website.

This blogger also acknowledges that the problem isn’t restricted to alpine environments. And it’s not limited to simply hikers. It is a much bigger global problem than one conference of 140 conservationists and scientists can address.

I hiked out to Chicago Lakes from Echo Lake a few days ago. While I’ve snowshoed in during winter months, I’d not had the simple luxury of a summer hike and made it my choice for a perfect Rocky Mountain day. To those unfamiliar with the hike, the first mile drops from Echo Lake into Chicago Creek canyon. Four more miles up past the Idaho Springs Reservoir and you’re atop the moraine enjoying a spectacular Mt Evans cirque view.

On a summer Sunday, Echo Lake becomes a water park for Front Range folk escaping the heat and the trail to the Chicago Creek crossing busy as a fish peddler during Lent. It’s a favorite spot for families with small children and pets and, as we know, neither can control their personal functions very well.

As I hiked back across the Creek, a family with four small children was preparing to leave the area. I heard the father ask if anyone needed to go to the bathroom. On reflex I shouted to them “not in the creek you don’t!” I stepped back and quickly explained to my startled company the ramifications of urinating in a stream that flowed into a city water supply and the 100-foot rule of backcountry waterways.

Hiking back around the north side of the Lake, I sidled up to a woman whose dog had “assumed the position” and was leaving its trace in the lake. She was as stunned as the previous party when I pointed out the children dangling their feet in the water alongside the parties fishing for trout to toss in the fry pan.

These were seven people out of the hundreds at Echo Lake Park on one Sunday. It’s a miniscule start but I’ve added to my wish list that concentric ripples of wisdom, ownership and Leave No Trace turn tsunami.

All it takes is a little nudge from each of us.

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