Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Leave No Trace~

The flyer~
Sometimes, it's all about timing...  I've been appalled - more than usual lately by the way our local trail-heads are being abused.  Even Lord Hill, where I seldom go & is usually clean - had many piles of manure left on the gravel of the parking areas when I was there last week.  I've picked it up myself & hauled it away - but why should I have to do that?

The Bracken Road parking area on the Pilchuck Tree Farm, was so dirty last week that I could hardly take a step without walking on manure...  What's happening here?  Is it that horsemen take these areas so for-granted that they forget it's a privilege to ride there?
During the last few months, Butch was corralled into taking on Leave No Trace, for our local Traildusters Chapter of Back Country Horsemen.  We also belong to the Cascade Horse Club.  Both Chapters sent us to this class & we were looking forward to the weekend.

   We left Fri. night about 6:30, had dinner at South Hill, outside Puyallup & made camp at the Cowlitz Ranger Station in Randle - by 10:30 p.m.  Pulling in so late, we weren't there for the work of getting the tents set up.
Our spot~
 BCH is the only organization with a program to teach LNT.  This Awareness Class, was the first in a series of three - with the purpose of educating horsemen on ways to lesson our impact on the environment.

Our alarm went off early to a brisk sunshine morning!  Breakfast was at 7 & class started promptly at 8 a.m.!   I had on my thermal pants & warm jacket - but the tents were already warmed by a nice propane fire.  Jane Byron was our instructor - otherwise known as;  "LNT Jane" :-)  She did a wonderful job of leading us through the program in an easy to understand fashion.  We were challenged to think about what impact we may have - before we make one!
Gar Abbott came by to welcome us to his neck of the woods :-)
 We learned each of the seven principals - throughout the weekend & how to use those principals to think first - as we take our horses out - trail riding, horse camping & interacting with other user groups.   This all goes back to having respect for the land.
"Trail"in the grass~
 After watching the "Soft Paths" video - we went out side & walked single file through the wet grass - later in the day we checked the area & could still see the circular path we'd taken.  It only takes a few times, riding off trail - to make a trail where there was none.  Something we don't want to do.
High Lining
 We enjoyed the benefit of having some very experienced instructors - to teach us how to high line, while doing minimal damage to the ground.  How to mitigate that damage by putting the high line on ground that is best suited - the most durable surface available.
"Doc" lectures on high lining~
 Fire building is discouraged now days - with the increasingly heavy use that the back country receives from it's multitudes of visitors each year.  Camp stoves are convenient, light weight & do a good job cooking meals.  We did learn some great techniques to keep a fire footprint to a minimum!  We were divided into groups & asked to build fires using different methods - that we had to keep burning for four hours.  Of course the wind was blowing - so getting them started was a challenge.
This one on a fire barrier & on top of rock!
 The one above did scorch the grass & soil.  A rock barrier under the fire barrier would have helped, or a deeper layer of rock.
Ours, in a pan.  Butch raised it off the ground & filled the pan 1/2 way with mineral soil.
 Ours, that Butch set up - did very well.  It was hard to light without a wind block, but once it was going, just a little fuel kept a nice fire.  By the following morning - when we moved the pan - there was no sign that there had been a fire.
We'd built it in a rut - there was no scorching of the grass or soil!
 Below is an older model of a fire blanket.  It was made from some tough materials, but can you imagine having only that between you & a out-of-control fire?

Portable fire blanket for Fire Fighters
 Another lesson, digging a proper pit for human waste.  A minimum of 6" deep, removing the top layer of grass or plants intact, dig beneath - then re-fill.  A minimum of 200 ft. from any water source.
Hole in the ground~
 It was a very busy weekend.  We moved from books to do-it-yourself instructions throughout both days.  Our meals?  Well - they were incredible!  Lewis County Chapter volunteers provided three meals a day, dutch oven, plus mid-morning, mid-afternoon snacks & a sack lunch to go on Sunday!  If we'd been there any longer - we would have all gained weight!  The chocolate lava cake - dutch oven style with vanilla ice cream topped the list when it came to good!
I can't say enough about the army of volunteers who provided the support for this event!  It takes a village - but in our case - it was more like an army!  With tents to set-up, tear down, stock to haul, gear to provide, the list goes on.

Becoming a member of Back Country Horsemen is more than sending in your yearly dues.  It's a commitment to a cause!  The cause of keeping horses on the trails in every sense of the word.  Leading the way in educating others when it comes to minimal impact on our fragile environments - whether they be in the Wilderness, or on our Front Country Trails.

1 comment:

  1. Looks pretty interesting! Those fire barriers are neat! Great sunny weather to enjoy too!


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