LEAVE NO TRACE if you haven’t heard this phrase or don’t understand it, it basically means, PACK OUT what you bring in. Apple cores, banana, orange peels and avocado peels, pistachio and peanut shells... etc These are not biodegradable and its litter. Leaving food behind is actually not good for the wildlife and can potentially make the critters sick - introducing food into their diet that is not common can cause them stress, plus the critters begin to become used to the food folks leave behind which they become less afraid of people and start doing things like coming into camp, approaching folks which can endanger the critters... think of the bears In Yosemite and how common it is to have them come into camp. They have become used to people leaving their food out or not properly storing Feeding the wildlife or tossing food out is food not meant for the wildlife. Think for example of the diets for folks who are lactose intolerant or folks with celiac - you wouldn’t host a dinner and feed them dishes loaded with dairy and gluten. Or at least we hope you wouldn’t. Think of the wildlife this way. Feeding them is not a good idea. If nature calls think about WAG bags. Carins, rock piles, trail ducks. Whilst trail ducks & carins marking a poorly marked trail may be helpful, adding to the trail marker by adding more rocks to the stack and building more rock piles is actually damaging to the ecosystem. By removing a rock to add to a stack or to build a carin, one is exposing the soil and the critters that live underneath the rock. Every time a rock is removed a critter looses a potential home and for critters who burrow under the rocks for protection are also feeling the effects.
If you are trekking in an area that you are unfamiliar with, stop by the ranger station or visitor center and get a map of the area. Be responsible please, if you don’t know the area, go with someone who’s does. Don’t choke the plants, trees and shrubs out by tying a marker on them just so you can find your way back. HIKE responsibly, carry a map, research the area before you enter, carry a compass and learn to use it before going outdoors. Learn how to use a topo map because it can save your life. Cary a beacon like the InReach by Garmin or the SPOT device.
Yesterday when trekking out to climb at The Corral Wall we met a guy who goes by the name of “Bad Metolius Shawn” who was out to replace bolts and anchors. He and I noticed that we were both removing the bright orange trail markers that someone left behind and we both smiled and agreed that if you don’t know what your doing or the area STAY OUT followed by a hug!
I know that it’s hip and cool to be outdoors now. It’s the thing now, but it’s also a thing to respect Mother Earth. Also PLEASE do not tie hammocks on Joshua Trees. Don’t climb, hang, sit, stand on them either. Even the ones that are down and look like they are dead are actually not many times. Even while down a Joshua Tree can begin growing. The root system of the Joshua Tree is very shallow and easily uprooted. High winds, flash floods and drought can cause the roots to uproot. These beauties don’t need more stress just so that folks Instagram pics can get more likes.
The cool thing is to respect the outdoors, carry out trash even if it isn’t yours. Carry a bag with you and help pack out. We don’t want the outdoors to look like some filthy city... I moved to Joshua Tree 4 years ago to get away from the city and now the city is coming here with no respect for the area that many of us call home. The Joshua Tree National Park is becoming increasingly popular and the impact is evident.
I can get bitter towards tourist visiting but the tourist are actually building to the local economy. I am especially annoyed by the folks building fires in areas that are not designated for fire or camping. The hipsters coming out with their floppy hats, flowing lace dresses walking on land that’s not marked as a trail so they can get a photo of themselves with a Joshua Tree, the thing that is even more annoying is that many of the folks are pulling off side of the road making themselves a parking spot, walking 40 feet to get a picture next to the Joshua Trees. Take a hike, get on a trail go further than merely 40 feet for a photo opt. It’s like saying you backpacked the John Muir Trail but had a mule to carry your gear. It’s cheating.