|Striving for Minimum Impact|
Before You Go
Before you go, contact local land
managers for maps, regulations and opportunities fo concerning
permits, campfire, party size, grazing, weed-seed-free feed, trail
conditions and closures, and more. Make alternate plans in case of
bad weather. r your area(s), information and rules
It's easier to travel outdoors when both
you and your animals are in shape for the trip.
stock: Which animal leads best? Which ones follow better? Which is
the slowest traveler? The slowest animal determines the speed of the
pack string. Are they familiar with trails, packing, and with the
equipment you plan to use? Get your animals used to highlines,
pickets, hobbles, and various temporary corrals before you go.
If you plan to pack in bear country,
especially grizzly country, make sure you obtain and understand
special safety and food storage regulations. Be aware of where bears
live, eat, and travel. Food odors can attract hungry or curious
bears and other animals too, so it is important to store your food
properly. In some areas, this means using bear-proof boxes and
Don't get caught unprepared when you find
your favorite grassy meadow is dry or overgrazed. Plan to take
supplemental feed and get your stock used to it at home. Ask local
land managers about available grazing and restrictions, so you know
how much supplemental feed to bring and where to camp.
While planning, find out if
hay and uncertified feed are allowed where you're going. It may not
be required, but you can help prevent the spread of noxious weeds by
using certified weed-seed-free feed.
Many areas permit only
certified weed seed-free feed because some feed contains seeds of
noxious weeds and non-native plants. Once established, noxious weeds
such as spotted knap weed and leafy spurge can spread and destroy
grazing for your stock and wildlife. Some offenders: Leafy Spurge
and Spotted Knap Weed.
The Bare Essentials
Lightweight, compact camp equipment: sleeping
bags, tents, campstoves, cookware, and utensils help reduce the
number of pack animals, allowing you to take what you really need.
Use these to feed your stock hay, pellets
or grain. They help reduce waste, you don't have to feed stock on
the ground, and it's easier on the land.
Safe Drinking Water
For short trips, carry enough water for the area
you're in. Or, check into water filtering devices for longer trips.
A giardia filter is highly recommended.
Try prepackaged meals, dehydrated or freeze-dried
food, or repackage food to save space and to reduce weight. Use
lightweight, reusable plastic containers and plastic bags instead of
glass and cans.
A shovel, axe, and water container are
useful for fire safety and keeping camp clean. Use these tools to
clear brush and trees that fall across trails when you can do so
Take insect repellent and a first-aid
kit for both yourself and your stock Make sure you know how to use
Hints For Smooth
Use your "horse sense!" It's easy to
overlook, but your own or your animals' lives could be at risk in
rough country. Let your stock pick their way through boggy places,
slide zones, on slick and steep trails, and through deep water and
snow. Or get off and lead them through treacherous stretches.
? Please stay on trails. Cutting across switchbacks tramples
plants and creates parallel paths which erode severely.
Although it's tricky, keep your stock from skirting shallow puddles,
small rocks, and bushes. This helps prevent the creation of wide,
? At rest stops even short ones tie
your stock off the trail. This is courteous to other trail users and
helps reduce wear and tear on the trail. Before you move on, scatter
? Especially during fire season, NO SMOKING
Making Friends in the
ln the backcountry, say hello! A little simple
courtesy makes life more pleasant for everyone.
basics of trail courtesy:
? In steep, rough country,
down-hill traffic usually yields to uphill traffic. If you have a
better place to pull off, do so, and let the other folks pass
? People with llamas, on foot, or on mountain bikes
should yield to stock traffic because it is easier for them to move
off the trail. If they don't, smile and yield the way, or ask them
to stand below the trail and wait quietly for your stock to pass.
? In the backcountry, say hello!
? IN STEEP COUNTRY,
DOWNHILL TRAFFIC YIELDS TO UPHILL TRAFFIC.
Keeping Them With
Your animals are
important if they wandered off, you'd have a heavy load on your
shoulders! Be sure to familiarize and refamiliarize stock with all
containment methods you plan to use before you ride into the
backcountry. A few ideas are listed below.
Where to Put
Keep pack animals at
least 200 feet from streams, lake shores, trails, and camping areas.
This helps keep water clean, protects the soil and plants, and keeps
trails and campsites clear of loose stock. Rotate stock throughout
the area to reduce trampling and prevent overgrazing.
Tree-Saver Straps: Used with
highlines, these make a big difference in keeping your stock from
Highline: A highline is one of the
easiest, lightweight ways to keep your stock in camp. It is easier
to put up with a tree-saver strap. The highline prevents stock from
trampling roots and chewing bark. See the picture of highlines and
tree-saver straps for details.
Hitching Rails: If you must tie
stock to a hitching rail or dead pole, tie a four-to-six inch round
pole between two trees. Place padding or wooden shims under the lash
ropes to protect the bark. Use rope or twine instead of nails or
wire. Again, take it with you when you leave.
How to use them:
1. Choose a hard and rocky
2. Place the tree-savers and rope about 7 feet above the
3. Stretch the line between two trees using adjustable
4. Run the rope between the straps, tie
with a quick-release knot, and pull tight.
Picket Ropes and
Bring an easy-to-move picket pin such as a metal one. Avoid
areas with obstacles so the rope doesn't get hung up. If you walk
your animal to the end of the rope before turning it loose, it's
less likely to injure itself by running past the end of the rope.
Move the picket pin frequently, to prevent trampling and reduce
overgrazing. When you break camp, be sure to take that picket pin
Wandering horse? Hobbles
work for some animals, but others can move fast while wearing them.
Again, get your stock used to them before going into the
Fences and Corals:
plan to spend several days in one spot, a temporary corral or fence
is a good way to keep your stock in camp. Make sure your stock are
trained to stay in temporary corrals before leaving home. If you
find permanent corrals at trailheads or designated horse camps, use
them! Try some of these temporary fences and corrals (don't forget
to take them with you!):
Plastic Snow Fences:
This fencing is
light- weight, easy to pack, and comes in colors such as green and
Rope corrals are
relatively easy to rig and move, but they do require extra rope. One
method uses two parallel ropes tied with loops or bowlines and
threaded with cross ropes for a more secure enclosure.
Keeping it Clean
At last, you've found your
spot. Hmm, looks like other people like this place, too. Some areas
receive lots of visitors, and they don't all follow the 'pack it in,
Pack it Out" philosophy. Should you stay here and clean it up, or
let the next person take care of it? You've decided to improve your
site? Good for you!
Like most people, you enjoy campsite
privacy and solitude. Where should you put stock and gear? You can
follow the "200-foot guideline": keep stock and gear at least 200
feet from the nearest lakes and streams, meadows, trails, and other
camps. In designated Wilderness, this is a requirement which helps
keep streams and lakes clean, protects the soil and plantlife, and
keeps trails and campsites clear of loose stock It's helpful to
follow it in all areas.
Tips to Remember in Camp:
Picking a Spot: Select an open, well drained, level spot. In Wilder
areas, you must follow the 200-foot guideline. Rotate stock
throughout the area to reduce trampling and prevent
? Soaps and Detergents: For washing chores, use
a basin at least 200 feet from water sources. Water plants and fish
are extremely sensitive to soap, even biodegradable soap, and can
die from it.
? Cleaning up: To prevent contaminating water
sources with stock or human waste, dump it at least 200 feet from
water, camp, and trails. Use biodegradable, unscented, white toilet
paper. Bury human waste and toilet paper in a small "cat hole" in
the top 6 to 8 inches of soil, or use a latrine for large parties or
long stays. Cover your latrine completely.
Where fires are allowed, we all enjoy the romance of a campfire.
However, campfires sterilize the soil, blacken rocks, and leave
long-lasting scars on the land. Build them where campfires were
previously built. Keep your fires small, attend them while burning,
and let them burn down to a fine ash; then stir, scatter or pack out
ashes according to local practice for that site.
? Fire Pans
and Cookstoves are good alternatives to traditional campfires. Fires
built in fire pans are similar to campfires on the ground, but cause
Iess damage. You can also use a cookstove instead of a fire: it's
light, convenient, and reduces impacts to the land.
Structures: Rock walls, log benches, lean-tos, and other structures
detract from and needlessly impact the natural landscape. If you
need temporary structures, bring lightweight equipment with you.
? Breaking Camp: Pack it in, Pack it Out
? Pack out
all refuse, burned cans, unburned campfire debris, and garbage -
including food scraps, grease, aluminum foil, and paper.
Burn what trash you can. Burying garbage or burning aluminum foil is
not an acceptable disposal method and is illegal in some locations.
? Break up and scatter horse manure and fill in pawed holes.
? Finally, scatter a covering of needles and cones over the