A response to TheDihedral.com’s ‘Why #LeaveNoTrace is pointless – Prove me wrong’.

I read TheDihedral.com’s post on #LeaveNoTrace a while ago and shared it with a partner, but it has been sitting on my mind. I grew up, out of town, in the woods, and was big into trekking over the past few years. The principles I grew up with, and the experiences I have had random camping in Canada, have lead me to take LNT to heart.

Over the years I have ended up taking out many newcomers to the hiking, and specifically the backcountry camping, world. LNT is something that I pounded into thier minds. This was 90% about safety and 10% trail preservation.

I do fully agree with all the points in your blog, and have had a few hikers with me that needed an explaination like yours. For the most part, the city folk who accompanied me would have no clue about any park etiquette and some would continue thier littering habits right onto the trail. They would need LNT constantly reminded to them, and they still would be dripping food all over there clothes, or the ground, or wherever. For these people, LNT is but an unachievable dream that they NEED to strive for in order to remain alive.

My seriousness here is that hiking or climbing from Kananaskis AB, to the Coastal Ranges in BC, involves a fair bit of dangerous wildlife. We have wolverine, bear, cougar, wolf, moose, and elk as some of the larger animal friends that could potentially cause you harm. The smaller ones can be issues as well, deer can kick your dog, and I have had issues with some larger weasels other than the wolverine.

Throwing your apple into the bushes on a mountain trail may seem like a fine idea, and I love your example, yet smaller food waste discarded from a throw will bring the smaller animals to eat it. Squirrels and rabbits will learn that food is easily found near the hiking trails, and often this food will be human food, high in sugar content (addictive). It may not seem to be a big deal having a load of cute mountain bunnies on a approach trail, but cougars eat the bunnies and you just brought their food to where the humans are.

Once one of our bears in Alberta eats human garbage, it is sentanced to death. Feeding a bear, kills a bear we say. This is because the bear learns of the easy, high carb and high sugar, food that can be found near human activity. Yes LNT helps keep our trails looking nice, and a good bivy site will ensure the alpine meadows that take hundreds of years to grow will not be damaged, but not letting your beer spill at camp will save the beer, and possibly your life.

#Leavenotrace is what the people who live the backcountry tell the newbies repetitively to break their bad habits. I did not know that there was an actual society, where one could volunteer their time to propagate. That seems ridiculous, but if that is what is needed to educate the new wave of insta-pic chasers, then I am all for it.

For me personally, LNT has just been a way to stay observant on my actions while random camping. If I cut down a dead tree for firewood, I will cut it down as close to the forest floor as possible, and burn all the cut pieces of it, so the area is ‘untouched’ for the next team on the same approach. I will ensure that I spill no food, because food is precious and it attracts unwanted attention. I will also not bring soap for dishes nor myself, as all of the water sheds I venture up lead into water sources for many of the communities here.

As human’s, we destroy and build. I think this is just fine. Trails and backcountry campgrounds are made to house us in the mountains. If I toss my apple an arms throw from a trail, it may not be a big deal, but if every new hiker to Banff National Park does that this summer, we will have serious issues. We are never going to live to the code of #LeaveNoTrace, but it needs to be talked about with anyone new to the backcountry. Sadly in our current day and age, snagging a summit selfie for your Tinder bio is far more important than doing beta, training, and actually dedicating a small portion of your care to the backcountry.

Saturday Worship

How do you know you found what you were looking for?

The start here would be knowing what you are looking for. Often we know what is missing, but only from the absence. How do we know when we found the missing piece? How do we know the piece fits, as all things in life changes.

I found something this weekend and it was not myself nor my purpose. I can’t even tell you what I found, as it is not for you. Sense of our lives can only come from within. Although we are all one, and the same, the individuality of our nature is just as present.

I may know what I know, and know I am missing a lot, but it is not for me to determine the path I choose. We must all follow the path that is set in front of us. Fighting the current only wears one out, yet failure is a large part of the learning process. Life grows back stronger after the burn.

I have found a life. I have found a home. I have found a community. Or was it given to me? I certainly did not take it, nor is it mine to posses. I am a part of it, just as we are all a part of the grid. No longer do I care to rush my life. Time is all we have, but for me it is time to smell the roses. It is time for me to learn. I have a ton to learn, and there is such a short time to get it all in, but the slower you take it, the better the lesson sticks.

Life in the fast lane moves slower than the other, but the journey will take you places, and you won’t get lost.

Community, and extension of self, from within.

Waking up to the new light is hard. Comfort is cherished in this life and nothing can change that fact. Type II fun, is still fun in my book. I know it is the Left side in us that feeds off this. As a Cancer, I get off from being wronged naturally. Shedding that ego layer was more than just a tad bit of work.

Community from within? What do I mean by this statement. If you havr ever had the chance to share a trail with me, you will immediately come to realize that my speach is full of contradictions. This is done intentionally. I am not confused. Opposites are really just extremes of the same thing. Hot and cold are both describing temperature. Up and down are both descriptors of your vertical position. Sometimes to describe a feeling, you need both of these opposites.

The same goes with the solo (or small group) aspect of alpinism. This pretty much sits well with any sort of isolated venture. The more of a isolated venture, the more support is needed. Even the off-grid mountain liver, they rely on the community of non-human life around them. A community of human life with only offer more support for trade of goods and labour.

This may be a round about way of getting to my point here. I want you to think today. I want you to relate. Relate what I just said to your experiences. Your experiences are due to the concious energy withing you, giving you life, that you call your soul. All concious life is connected to the grid. I call this energy N. We are all N. We are all sharing the same concious energy here. All concious life. We are all the same. We are one.

The implications of this is that everyone is experiencing the same thoughts, it may not be the same train of thought as we are all individuals with our own ‘soul’ and set of experiences. The issue with thinking individually is that we are all of one energy. The more we work on ourselves individually, the more we share. Inspiration for the uninspired is not what I am talking about. I am talking about shared experiences.

Alpinism is about finding yourself. Some call it masochism. Some call it dangerous. I will not say it is not. The internal struggle that comes when making choices, life balancing ones, is the same in us all. The more we can be open, and in the ‘zone’, the easier we can flow and make these descisions correctly. The unseen result is the concious energy we all use to animated these bodies of dust gets enlightened, and we all benefit.

Go forth in your training. Community or solo. Go forth in your ventures, more than likely in groups, and know we are all at stages of the same growth. I will be doing the same.

Humble beginings

Step 1 in learning alpinism; The mountains are always going to be bigger than you.

Jokes aside, I have nothing that I can be proud about. I have ran my life into the ground. Literally. I have exhausted every lifeline that I didn’t even know I had. I lost my car, I got layed off, and I had nothing to fall back on. I was thinking too many steps ahead, without any firm ground at my feet. I turned my life into canadian choss.

That being said, I have awoken my mind to the reality that surrounds us all. Starting off fresh is the only choice I left myself with, and I can only go up from here.

My body may be ready for taking the next step in my venture towards the heavens, yet the mountain game is two-fold. I learnt that spending most of my 2017 winter outside, meditating alone in the mountains. The mind has a lot to deal with in those situations, and the consequences are severe if one fails. I have been out enough to see someone crack, and not downplaying ropeless adventures, but I have not been in a situatuon that is pushing the limits to the extent I plan too in the near future.

Humility is not a strong aspect of my previous life. I know it, and if you knew me, you know it. On the plus side, I changed more than I thought possible, on the down side, I am no longer the same person at all. I am happy now, and not just in name. It is time to move forward in this life. I thought I was on a bonus round, I am just at the starting gates.

I ended up meeting a rad dude in William’s Lake. I am currently hired to help an old band put out a new album, and have chosen here to set my roots. There is a crag nearby, tons of trail running, and I am surrounded by the best mix of quiet beauty. The people in this place are awake, smiling, and it is a community.

Volunteering in this community lead me to meet this man named Eric. Eric works at the Salvation Army in William’s Lake. During the fires in BC last year, he was evacuated, and his home burnt to the ground. He has been unable to make it back to his plot until today. His fear that it remained standing was zero. He knew it would more than likely be gone. His hope to rebuild. His hope to move on. And his hope to grow a new community on this land was only strengthened.

The conversation we had as we walked the perimeter of the place he once called home humbled me. I have been trying to learn to be humble, but it is not something to learn. It comes with the awakening of our mind. It comes when you can breath in your own skin.

A few hours out in the woods, with another human, was the best medicine for me as well. Being mostly solo for the longest while had got to me. I enjoyed the trek, the sun, and the memories I created today. I enjoyed the fellowship I have begun in this place I now call my home. As much as alpinism can be a solo game, a community of like-minded support, is what I have been missing.

Trying to fit into any game is not ideal. Trying to be the best out of a lot is silly. I am trying to be the best me. I am training for it daily. I dedicate my life to bettering myself, because the better I am, the better we are. And we are team.