During our JMT trek this summer, Mary and I took special attention to packing out our garbage and biohazards.
As we trekked from South Lake into Kings Canyon National Park, we were shocked to see progressively higher amounts of garbage and litter on or near the trail.
I felt that Trekkers in general had a mindset of, “Oh some ranger will come and pick my Cliff Bar wrapper for me”.
At many of the lakes where we camped, old myths were evident. One that was prevalent: if you get the campfire hot enough, the fire will melt the tin foil used to cook trout. Often we could see the foil at the bottom of these lakes.
Toilet paper and Feminine products were also evident near most of the campsites.
The most shocking offense was our lunch stop at Sapphire Lake in Evolution Basin where we actually found a pile of human waste and toilet paper as close as 10 feet from the west shore near some erratic boulders. Did these hikers believe that the toilet paper would degrade that quickly, even if it were biodegradable?
Mary and I were so shocked by the litter, we began picking it up, if it was not biohazard in nature.
During the trek into Ansel Adams Wilderness just north of Devils Post Pile, we could see the evidence of Inyo National Forest’s effort to put more oversight into protecting the fragility of the high lake basins. At Shadow, Garnet and Thousand Island Lakes, recent obvious postings of wilderness regulations were at all of the trails leading into each of these lakes. The signposts explained the regulations on camping at these lakes with a map that also illustrated where you could and could not legally camp. This I thought was a good step but feel there still needs to be a conversation about why there are regulations, and what their goals are. It’s seems meaningless to say it is the “law” that you must camp 100 feet away from a lake without explaining why. Maybe “Authority of the Resource” rather than “Authority of the Badge” can empower conservation in the backcountry more effectively.
To see bio-hazard
Authority of the Resource
Posted by Tony Bellaver