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  • Writer's picturePublic Lands Hate You

Leave No Trace Principle #1 – Plan Ahead & Prepare

Updated: Jan 5, 2020

***Posted to the @PublicLandsHateYou Instagram account on 7/31/2019***

Leave No Trace Principle #1 – Plan Ahead & Prepare

This principle is more about YOUR safety than about preserving our public lands. I’ve been in more situations than I can count where I’ve ended up having to help people who were devastatingly unprepared for the situation they were in. Sometimes stuff just happens no matter how well prepared you are, but much of the time these situations can be avoided with a prudent amount of planning.

What does planning and preparing look like? It means asking the right questions, giving honest answers, and moving forward accordingly. The questions are basically the same for all trips from a local park to a North Pole expedition, but the answers and required level of preparation will vary widely.

Do you have the maps, permits, and gear you need? Are you familiar with the terrain you’ll be traveling over? When is the local land management agency open so you can get up to date conditions? What does the weather look like? Is your group prepared for the potential conditions you could experience? Do you have enough food and water? Do you know the rules for the area you’ll be visiting? Does someone back home know the trip itinerary? Does your physical and mental fitness align with the goals of the trip? How about everyone else who will be participating?

These questions, and the associated answers, are applicable to all situations be it a front country interpretive trail or a backcountry epic and will get your group thinking about the best ways to stay comfortable and safe while enjoying our public lands. No one wants to be stuck on an exposed ridgeline in a thunderstorm because they didn’t get the timing of their hike correct. No one wants to have to start rationing food and water at the end of the hike. No one wants to have to build an illegal campfire to cook dinner because they forgot a camp stove. No one wants to have to call for help and risk other’s lives because they got themselves into a situation they weren’t equipped to handle.

Do yourself a favor. Plan Ahead and Prepare. The effort you put in before a trip will pay serious dividends during the trip in the form of comfort, confidence, and good memories.

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