Photo by Annalise Grueter.
Journalist Shikha Tripathi grew up in the striking landscape of the Kumaon Himalaya and she later earned an advanced degree in mountaineering. But it wasn’t until she took a NOLS Trip Leader course that she learned the principles of Leave No Trace, an experience that shifted her perspective on human presence in the outdoors.
“Every single day, we uprooted our temporary homes and walked for miles, set them up again before the day ended, lit our stoves and cooked our meals, and in between, learned invaluable lessons in packing and strapping on our bags right, ‘stormproofing’ or keeping equipment safe for the night, attending nature’s call without giving in to the temptation of toilet paper, and sharpening our navigational skills.
My NOLS backcountry experience changed some things irreversibly for me, even in frontcountry living. My bedside water jug has been replaced with my neon blue NOLS bottle, the seven LNT principles glowing on it. I use toilet paper sparingly, and opt for a bucket bath except for the occasional indulgence of a shower. I put out unnecessary campfires lit by hikers (much to their annoyance), and on cold, clear nights, I pull on the hood of my jacket and go look at the constellations that I learned about from my tent-mates.”
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