Last week I attended a Leave No Trace (LNT) Master Educator course put on by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Yosemite National Park. I have been wanting to go to this training for a couple of years now... I have many opportunities to teach LNT in my job and I wanted to hone my skills and learn new ways to get the LNT message across.
On Monday 8 of us students and 2 instructors spent the morning in a classroom at Parson's Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows then the afternoon getting ready for our hike up Lyell Canyon. Here we would spend 4 days in the backcountry talking about and practicing the 7 LNT principles and more. On Tuesday we embarked on the John Muir Trail (also the Pacific Crest Trail) from Tuolumne Meadows for Lyell Canyon. We hiked up this relatively level and easy and spectacularly scenic trail until we got near the junction for Evelyn Lake. Then we spent about an hour searching for a LNT campsite, that is one that is at least 200 feet from water, 200 feet from the trail, where no one could see us, and on a durable surface. Traveling to and finding the campsite was part of the lesson I gave on hiking and camping on durable surfaces, which is the second of seven LNT principles. Each of us took turns teaching one another about these principles and more topics related to LNT. In this way we not only learned but we also developed our communication, leadership, and teaching skills.
NOLS definitely does not let its students go hungry! We had plenty of good food to eat on this trip and we split into 3 smaller cooking groups. Our cooking area was located about 200 feet away from our sleeping area, which I wholeheartedly agree is a good idea and this is why... One evening after everyone had cooked dinner and cleaned up and put everything that smelled good into their bear canisters they headed off to bed. I headed off to use the "latree". As I was doing so I heard some noises over by our kitchen area. I asked if anyone was still over there and Pacer said, "Yes, I'm over here." So I went back to my business but then kept hearing the noises. So I hurried up and finished then walked back towards the kitchen. I was within about 10 feet of it when I saw a bear sniffing around. I screamed and fortunately the bear ran away. The others heard me and came down to help! We made sure everything was cleaned up and secure then went to bed. The next evening one girl in the group awoke to a bear sniffing her sleeping bag and tugging on her hat! She was calmer than me and simply told the bear to, "Shoo!" lol
On Wednesday we dayhiked further up Lyell Canyon and had a few more lessons in LNT then returned to our campsite. On Thursday it was more lessens then we practiced finding a good LNT campsite once again and we moved down and across the canyon. That evening we were treated to a beautiful site of alpenglow on the Kuna Crest and then a full moon rising. On Friday we hiked out, and after a brief graduation ceremony where we were given our LNT Master Educator diplomas and pins, we said goodbye and parted ways.
The 7 Leave No Trace Principles:
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
More photos here http://www.tarol.com/lnt.html
The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com