April 2, 2021
Leave No Trace is a set of principles to protect the environment. More than that, though, it’s a movement to leave nature better than it was when you arrived! As the LNT Center says, “We are all the solution to conservation, and Leave No Trace is leading the way. With pioneering science, hands-on training, and simple guidelines, Leave No Trace helps you explore the outdoors sustainably every time you get outside.”
Plan ahead and prepare.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
Dispose of waste properly.
Leave what you find.
Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
Be considerate of other visitors.
These principles aren’t just a set of rules to follow. It’s a way of living and respecting the environment; a set of ethics that we all need to uphold for future generations. These ethics are specifically aimed for backcountry users. The backcountry refers to areas that are more remote, and typically only accessed by backpackers. But the problem is that people don’t always respect the frontcountry, which causes a lot of damage. The frontcountry refers to areas that are easily accessible by vehicle and day users. These areas are often more trampled and trashed because they are popular due to their accessibility. But LNT is often not black and white, and it really depends on the situation. It’s just super important to try your best and continue to learn how to be better.
The Leave No Trace ethics are extremely important for a lot of reasons. They help…
Fix damaged trails + natural areas
Keep water clean
Connect youth to nature
At risk wildlife
Prevent destructive fires
Create awareness for crowded parks
We want to preserve the environment for future generations. More and more people are enjoying the outdoors, and it’s extremely important to make sure that we all are doing our best to take care of nature. One time doesn’t damage the environment, but something that happens over and over again, will create permanent damage.
Also, it’s important to note that small outdoor weddings and elopements can have a huge impact on the environment, especially over time. For example, certain locations could get damaged from becoming more popular, and could even become off-limits. We want to make sure this doesn’t happen so that you can enjoy the spot you got married at, and so that other couples can elope there in the future!
Areas with living soil. Living soil is also known as crypto, and is found in desert environments such as Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Living soil is made up of small organisms and retains moisture, but this also makes it extremely fragile. Since it looks like dirt, it is vulnerable to traffic by foot and vehicle. It’s important to not step on living soil if you can help it. In a lot of desert areas, such as Arches National Park, there are hefty fines for damaging crypto.
Speaking of the desert, try to avoid puddles and mud holes as well. Water is a valuable resource in the desert, and it can be a home for certain organisms. So when you step in puddles and mud holes, you’re destroying thousands of micro-organisms. Other areas, like the Bonneville Salt Flats, are easily damaged when wet as well. When the flats are wet and vehicles or foot traffic takes place, the salt crusts can be irreversibly damaged.
Another environment to be careful of is meadows and areas with a lot of vegetation. For example, Mount Rainier has a lot of alpine meadows with flowers. Do not step on these flowers or grassy areas, but instead stay on the trail! Meadows and fragile vegetation can show the effects of foot traffic very quickly, and it’s hard for those areas to recover. If you want to learn more about Mount Rainier, check out our page here!
When you venture to elope, make sure to venture ON the trails or on durable surfaces!
A lot of the time, you see a photo that you absolutely love and you immediately want that iconic image of you and your partner on your wedding day! We get it. That makes sense! It’s beautiful! But the thing that people don’t always realize is that those epic locations have a completely different experience than what it appears to be. You see this couple by themselves with a beautiful sunset at Horseshoe Bend in Utah. But what you don’t see are the hundreds of people that also came to see the sunset. You don’t see the time you need to wait to get your shot, and the 30 seconds you have before it’s someone else’s turn. That’s totally fine, but we want to give you a better experience. So, it’s important to know the conditions, accessibility, crowd, and the interactions before you choose a location. We do our homework! We prefer to hike and scout locations before we take our couples there because we want you to have a better experience. We can get those iconic shots if that’s a dream of yours, of course! But we’ll help you find an equally beautiful spot or time to get married that is a more private experience!
As mentioned above, we make sure to do our research! We research and scout our locations to the best of our ability before taking our couples there. It’s important to do this because then we are educated on what the experience will be like, and how we can prepare beforehand.
Once a couple inquires with us, we make sure to communicate about Leave No Trace, especially when it comes to certain locations. It’s super important to us that we’re all on the same page about taking care of the environment!
From here on out, when we post blogs or information on our social media, we are going to make sure to nod to LNT. We watched a video by Adventure Instead and the LNT Center, that made a really good point! You never know who is going to see your content and whether or not it’s going to go viral, so it’s important to make sure to properly educate with each piece of content you post on the internet.
In our location guides, we include pertinent information regarding the Leave No Trace principles, so that everyone is educated on the environment. For example, we talk about which surfaces are durable and can be walked on vs. which surfaces cannot be walked on.
We stay on the trail when we hike! Don’t worry, we’ll get EPIC shots, but we’re going to get them in a sustainable way!
Human waste – Make sure you are aware of what environment you’ll be adventuring in because in environments like deserts and high alpine, you always need to pack your waste out. So make sure to bring bags with you in case the location does not have any! But there are other locations where you can dig a cat hole. Just make sure it isn’t close to a water source and that it’s at least 6 inches deep!
Stay on trails – Stay on designated trails whenever you can! It’s important to not walk off trail and damage the land. Certain areas have a hard time recovering from human traffic. However, if you can’t stay on the trail (for a survival reason), make sure to widely disperse if you can, so that you aren’t creating a new trail.
Pack everything out – Everything that you brought needs to come back with you! This includes things that you might think are “natural” or “biodegradable.” Oftentimes, these things aren’t native to the environment, so they can actually cause damage. Plus, things take a long time to degrade!
Leave what you find – Make sure not to take anything from the environment when you’re on an adventure! Instead, take a photo or video. It’s important to leave things as is so that the environment can thrive and so that others can enjoy it as well.
And just make sure to follow all of the other principles to the best of your ability! The cool thing about Leave No Trace is that it’s a learning experience. Be humble if someone reaches out to educate you, and be polite if you need to help educate someone else. Everyone makes mistakes, and no one is perfect. Not even us. We’ve made mistakes before, and we probably will make mistakes in the future. But we’re doing our best to educate ourselves and our couples so that we can do better! For example, we’ve done many champagne pops before, but that can actually be harmful for the environment. Sometimes you can’t find the cork, which isn’t great. Also, the spray can attract living organisms and put them at risk, so instead, we’re going to try non-flavored sparkling water in the future! Whenever you make a mistake, just learn from it and recognize how you can improve. Get creative and find ways to have an epic experience, while still respecting and taking care of the environment!
If this sounds like something that resonates with you, feel free to contact us! We’d love to document your day in an environmentally conscious way.