Learning to Teach Leave No Trace
Tuolumne Meadows and Lyell Canyon, Yosemite National Park, CA
August 7-11, 2006
A deer we saw on the hike out...

The 7 Leave No Trace Principles:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

More about the 7 Principles
More about LNT
Teaching LNT
More about this area
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Last week I attended a Leave No Trace (LNT) Master Educator course put on by the
National Outdoor Leadership School (
NOLS) in Yosemite National Park.  I have been
wanting to go to this training for a couple of years now...  I have many opportunities to
teach LNT in my job and I wanted to hone my skills and learn new ways to get the LNT
message across.

On Monday 8 of us students and 2 instructors spent the morning in a classroom at
Parson's Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows then the afternoon getting ready for our hike up
Lyell Canyon.  Here we would spend 4 days in the backcountry talking about and
practicing the 7 LNT principles and more.  On Tuesday we embarked on the John Muir
Trail (also the Pacific Crest Trail) from Tuolumne Meadows for Lyell Canyon.  We hiked
up this relatively level and easy and spectacularly scenic trail until we got near the
junction for Evelyn Lake.  Then we spent about an hour searching for a LNT campsite,
that is one that is at least 200 feet from water, 200 feet from the trail, where no
one could see us, and on a durable surface.  Traveling to and finding the campsite was
part of the lesson I gave on hiking and camping on durable surfaces, which is the second
of seven LNT principles.  Each of us took turns teaching one another about these
principles and more topics related to LNT.  In this way we not only learned but we also
developed our communication, leadership, and teaching skills.  Also, since we came from
diverse places, we learned a lot about LNT and how it applies elsewhere.  For example,
Pacer and Leanne are from Arizona, AnnMarie is from Missouri, Peter is from
Washington, Bob is from Florida, and Chitose is from Japan!
I took a few photos of Tuolumne Meadows and its surrounding
granite domes at sunset on Monday.

Lembert Dome is my favorite as I climbed to the top of it as
my first hike in Yosemite back in the summer of 1998.
Fairview Dome
The last light of sunset on Cathedral Peak
Heading out to Lyell Canyon
The Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River
Brent sitting by the river, he is a wilderness
education volunteer with the Forest Service
The campsite we found was on a high bench above and far away
from the river.  It was large enough for all our tents and on a
durable surface which was sandy decomposed granite.
Bob demonstrates how to dig a cathole.  He works
for the Florida Trail Association.
LNT recommends you walk down the center of the trail, even if it's
muddy, so you don't go around and trample the vegetation and thus
widen the trail and its impact.  You can plan ahead and prepare for
this by wearing high waterproof boots and gaiters.
NOLS definitely does not let its students go hungry!  We had plenty of good food to eat
on this trip.  We split into 3 smaller cooking groups and here's my group cooking dinner.   
Our cooking area was located about 200 feet away from our sleeping area, which I
wholeheartedly agree is a good idea and this is why...  One evening after everyone had
cooked dinner and cleaned up and put everything that smelled good into their bear
canisters they headed off to bed.  I headed off to use the "latree".  As I was doing so I
heard some noises over by our kitchen area.  I asked if anyone was still over there and
Pacer said, "Yes, I'm over here."  So I went back to my business but then kept hearing
the noises.  So I hurried up and finished then walked back towards the kitchen.  I was
within about 10 feet of it when I saw a bear sniffing around.  I screamed and
fortunately the bear ran away.  The others heard me and came down to help!  We made
sure everything was cleaned up and secure then went to bed.  The next evening one girl
in the group awoke to a bear sniffing her sleeping bag and tugging on her hat!  She was
calmer than me and simply told the bear to, "Shoo!" lol

On Wednesday we dayhiked further up Lyell Canyon and had a few more lessons in LNT
then returned to our campsite.  On Thursday it was more lessons then we practiced
finding a good LNT campsite once again and we moved down and across the canyon.  That
evening we were treated to a beautiful site of alpenglow on the Kuna Crest and then a
full moon rising.  On Friday we hiked out, and after a brief graduation ceremony where
we were given our LNT Master Educator diplomas and pins, we said goodbye and parted
Hiking towards the head of Lyell Canyon and Donohue Pass
Looking back down Lyell Canyon and the Kuna Crest
Potter Point and the Tuolumne River
Just finishing up with dinner at our durable kitchen site
that also happened to have a great view
Chitose uses the path more traveled.
Her goal is to bring LNT to Japan.