Doug Schnitzspahn, editor of Elevation Outdoors, reflects on how the Leave No Trace principles he learned on his NOLS course apply to daily life. Building on the core concept of “leave what you find,” he articulates a LNT ethic that’s transferable to the front country.
"My big introduction to a life and career in the outdoors came on a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) trip kayaking down the Sea of Cortez in Baja, Mexico. Alongside learning how to roll a sea kayak (not easy), read the wind at dawn and identify sea birds, we practiced the basic, beautiful principles of Leave No Trace. This ethic, of being as soft as possible on the land and wildlife and ecosystems, resonated with me.
I admit I was horrified at first by the idea of using smooth stones instead of toilet paper (hey, don’t knock it until you try it). But…all these ethics go beyond camping and climbing: Follow the respect and restraint inherent in them, and you can navigate a path through the world that ensures the world itself thrives."