Basics and Importance of LNT

Who’s favorite thing about hiking is finding trash on the trails?

It’s such a far cry from the truth, and yet a common issue throughout our trail networks. With the uptick of users in the front and backcountry, there needs to be an uptick in education. In Utah, the proximity to the foothills and the Wasatch front make access easy for virtually everybody in the valley. Oftentimes I see groups of people enjoying our trails who are either unaware or uneducated about the ethics of backcountry and front country use.

So, let’s start here: what is LNT?

LNT stands for Leave No Trace, a non-profit created in 1994 to educate users about their impact on the environment. At the time, their main focus was on backcountry users, to educate them on the best practices they’d discovered through scientific research. Since then, LNT has created a front country program to address the issues facing day-use facilities.

Before I dive into the main principles of Leave No Trace, I want to highlight why it’s important.

Our wilderness areas are precious, beautiful ecosystems. For as long as mankind has inhabited the earth, we’ve enjoyed the simple pleasure of venturing out to a stand of pine trees and feeling utterly at peace. As our population continues to grow, our wild areas continue to shrink as we break ground for apartment complexes, housing developments, and strip malls. Thankfully, private and public organizations, along with federal employees, are continually fighting land access and purchase battles to preserve these places.

With all the time and money that goes into protecting these primitive areas, it’s our duty, as users, to maintain and respect the land. Realistically, the more people who are venturing into alpine environments, the more people we need to proactively make minimal impacts on the environment. That’s where Leave No Trace comes in.

These seven principles aren’t rocket science, or even that hard to follow. The more closely we follow them now, the longer we’ll have to enjoy our mountain environments.

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1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

This is as simple as checking the weather, obtaining a map of the area, and letting someone know where you’re going. It follows the line of thinking, “prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.” Most of the time you won’t need your rain jacket, but the time you do, you don’t want to have forgotten it.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

I know that pitching a tent in the middle of a field of wildflowers sounds picturesque, but if everyone did that, we’d have no wildflower fields left to enjoy. If you’re going backpacking, chances are someone has been on that trail before you and has set up camp in a similar location you’re looking for. The emphasis is on finding already established campsites instead of creating your own. Think flat, dirt or rock surfaces at least 200ft away from any body of water.

3. Proper Waster Disposal

If your bladder is bursting, ensure you are at least 200ft away from any body of water so as not to contaminate it. If it’s your bowels, dig a 6″-8″ hole, hunker down, and fill it in with dirt when you’re done. If using toilet paper make sure to pack it out instead of burning it. Bring an extra ziplock bag for this purpose!

4. Leave What You Find

This is the hardest principle for me because I love wildflowers. I wish I could come home with a bundle after every hike. But the more I take the fewer there are for others to enjoy. The same goes for rocks, branches, and animal remnants (antlers, bones, etc.).

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

If possible, use already existing fire rings. If there aren’t any near your campsite, keep your ring small, and try to use dead and down twigs to stoke your fire. Make sure the coals are out before you go to bed, and when leaving the site, it’s recommended you scatter the cooled ashes. The motto with campfires is, “if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.”

6. Respect Wildlife

It’s their habitat, we’re the visitors. Bears, Moose, Deer, Mountain Goats, Bobcats, Squirrels, all of them, we are visitors in their territory. Respect their distance. Here’s a funny video that I think is neat and relevant:

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

A lot of people head to the mountains if they’re seeking solace. Solace, however, can be quite hard to find when someone is blaring their boombox a half-mile down trail, or if someone’s over-friendly border collie won’t stop sniffing your junk while the owner thinks it’s hilarious. Think about disconnecting and not disturbing other users, it’s pretty simple. Take your boombox to the lake, and we’ll all probably be a little happier for it.

 



 

If we think of the wilderness like a co-op, where we’re all part owners and members of this incredible collective, it’s a little easier to enact these principles. You wouldn’t visit someone’s house and trash it, and the same goes for wilderness. Let’s all become more sustainable users.

Any tips and tricks for LNT practices? Leave them in the comments below!

 

7 Foods to Grill that Aren’t Meat

Tis the season for outdoor barbecues, sunset beers, and camping! As a vegetarian (or someone trying to cut down on their red meat consumption), it’s easy to feel left out when the grill master is yells out “Order up!” for all the hot dogs, burgers, and bacon he’s just grilled to perfection.

Have no fear! There is food for you yet my dear herbivores!

Aside from the traditional veggie burger or tofu dog (which really have come quite a long way), there are heaps of other items you can grill that aren’t meat. And if you grill with enough flare, you might even steal some jealous stares from your burger-loving friends.

1. BBQ Seitan

Need I say more? This recipe from The Spruce is a classic take on the hearty staple of seitan. It requires minimal prep, just cut and marinate the pieces, throw them on a soaked bamboo skewer, and grill ’em up!

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thespruce.com

2. Grilled Onions

It goes without saying that you can grill any kind of vegetable, but this grilled onion recipe hits the nail on the head. Perfectly charred sweet onions are the brilliant side you’ve been searching for to accompany your BBQ seitan.

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chefsteps.com

3. Sweet Potato Skewers

I swear, put anything on a stick and I’ll be excited to eat it. Equal parts sweet potato and onion, these skewers, once drizzled with some tahini sauce (or sauce of your choosing), are the bees knees and super easy. Feel free to add/subtract whatever veggies your heart desires.

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naturallyella.com

4. Mexican Street Corn

Oh my yum. I first tried Mexican street corn when I was climbing down in El Potrero Chico, and while this isn’t quite the real deal, it comes dang close. Although the idea of putting mayo on your corn sounds a little out of place, trust me, it works.

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seededaetthetable.com

5. Peaches

It’s like a mini peach cobbler! Halve the peaches, take the pit out, spread on a little sauce, and let grill for a few minutes. While this recipe doesn’t call for it, I recommend placing a dollop of ice cream in the middle and spreading some pie crumbles on top. YUM.

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tastespace.wordpress.com

6. Din Tai Fung Tofu

While the black vinegar in this recipe may be hard to come by, I would be amiss to leave out grilled tofu in my vegetarian grill edition! Packed with flavor, and so easy even your cooking-inept friends can do it.

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fried dandelions.com

7. Balsamic Garlic Grilled Mushrooms

Mushrooms might be my favorite vegetable, and marinating them in balsamic and garlic definitely seals the deal. These mushrooms are so easy. 30 minutes marinating and a few minutes on the grill make this recipe an instant winner.

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closetcooking.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your go-to grilling recipes?

Weekly Round-Up #8

Self-control, how does one attain such a thing? If you’re like millions of other Americans, gaining, re-gaining, or denying self-control is an all-encompassing task. Thankfully, self-control is like a muscle, like a magic muscle, actually, that gives back what you put into it. Nathan DeWall knows this well. After losing his mother, he turns to running as a coping mechanism, and in doing so learns that the self-control he needed to train and run for a 100-mile race was also applicable at home and the office.

Did you know that 25% of college-educated women are forgoing procreation? It blew my mind too. This article attempts to deconstruct the age-old idea that women who choose a life without children are “shallow, selfish, and self-absorbed.” Turns out, women nowadays are thinking critically about the decision, and realizing that maybe rearing children while also commandeering a full-time job is not what their dreams are made of.

The times they are a-changin’. Women and minorities are stepping into roles they’ve previously left unoccupied in numbers we haven’t seen before. In conservation, it’s no different, “Today, an unprecedented number of women are pursuing degrees in conservation science, leaving men as the minority in the classroom.” On top of that, minorities, and women of color, are making their mark on the conservation world. Read more about their stories here.

Gina Lucrezi is a trail blazer. Literally. In 2016, she created the online community Trail Sisters, which promotes and empowers women in trail running. After moving to Colorado Springs, and meeting Nancy Hobbs, Lucrezi continued to realize the importance of community in such a solitary sport. Through trail running, she began learning more about the discrepancies between male and female athletes and decided to take a stand against it. This article, “Every Woman Should Have a Trail Sister,” encourages women to find another women to run with, and if that isn’t possible, to at least find the online forum for the sense of community and solidarity it offers.

Trail Run Tempo

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Trail running can be hard.

In Utah, where 99.9% of all trails head directly UP, and switchbacks are scarce, getting into trail running can be, well, exhausting. If you’re hard-pressed to find a moderate trail to begin on, is it even worth “running” at all if you spend the majority of the time speed-hiking?

When I talk to people about venturing into the world of dirt and scraped knees, the most common, and almost immediate, response is this:

I don’t think I can run the whole thing.

My dear, sweet friends, I have good news for you!

The majority of trail runners walk the uphills.

You read that right! When I first started trail running I had no idea that even the elitest of the elites will hike the uphills and run the downhills (granted their uphills are literal mountains, but still).

So when we’re talking about how fast or slow you should be trail running, the best answer I can find is to do what feels right for YOU and YOUR BODY. It’s easy to get so caught up in what we think we should or shouldn’t be doing, that we make it impossible for ourselves to even start. That’s a nasty trap to get caught in.

In Salt Lake, there are some great, moderate trails for beginners. The Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon, and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail near the Avenues and the University, are both great options. And as you move on from there, give yourself grace, and a high-five for getting out in the first place.

The outdoors can be intimidating, I know from experience. It’s even more intimidating when you live in a place that professional athletes use as their training ground. However, I suggest we use that as motivation to get out and get after it.

Who knows? After a few years of training you could be running laps around the Wasatch.

 

Weekly Round-Up #7

In this week’s news:

Agnes Vianzon worked with the California Conservation Corps for over a decade where she learned the basics of trail work, backcountry ethics, and the importance of LNT. These experiences lead her to create the Eastern Sierra Conservation Core, a non-profit dedicated to “building a stronger and more inclusive community,” who aims to “provide opportunities to experience and better understand wilderness and natural resources by providing a transformational backcountry experience.” This summer they have multiple all-female trail crews, and Women in the Wilderness backcountry experiences. You can listen to the podcast on the She-Explores site.

Feel like you’re using your phone too much? You probably are. In this tech-ridden era, it’s hard to find the fine (and quickly disappearing) line between our phones and our independence. It seems the two are so intertwined to be nearly inseparable. Brad Stulberg thinks it’s high-time we start monitoring and limiting our techno-use. Here are some tips on how to do that.

She Moves Mountains gives me chills. These two women, Lizzy Van Patten and Carey DeVictoria-Michel, are concretely pursuing a dream that’s been in the works for a while: teaching women to climb. Last year, the duo partnered with a local climbing company in Smith Rock to provide all-women climbing clinics. With the help of a recent crowd-funding event, they’re now able to kick off their own guiding company. In Lizzy’s words: “I began guiding in hopes of showing people, especially women, how powerful they are.”

Legendary mountaineer, Katie Bono, set the women’s speed record on Denali on June 14th. She had a round-trip time of 21 hours, 6 minutes, and reportedly “crawled into basecamp on Alaska’s Mount Denali, frostbitten and exhausted.” Hell yeah, Katie!

Reflections on a Marathon

There are plenty of things I thought I might never do. Running a marathon was one of them.

For at least ten years I’ve put “run a marathon” on my bucket list, or my one-year list, or any other goal-oriented list I made. I can recount my goals for 24, 25, and 26, and all include running a marathon.

I finally got around to it.

The thing about running a marathon is this: if you want to do it, you can. Not to put off the years of hard work and effort that elite runners put into it—I’m speaking to the first timers, the wannabe’s, and the slightly interested.

If you want to run a marathon, just do it.

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On my 26th birthday I registered for my first marathon. I was tired of putting it off until the next year, because eventually I would be 80 and wishing I had done this thing I had spent so many years wishing I had done. There’s a quote I rely on, etched into my journal, that reads, “How you spend your days is how you spend your life.” I realized, on the celebration of my 26th year on earth, that I’d spent a lot of days (9,490 to be exact) waiting to do something, to be somebody, to finally cross things off my bucket list.

26 would be the year I stopped wanting and started becoming.

As I sat in a coffee shop with a good friend of mine, I found a marathon, I registered, I downloaded a training plan, and I set my mind to it.

It really was as easy as that.

For ten weeks or so I ran four days a week. In that time, I traveled to Mexico, had a fluke knee accident, came down with a cold that left me in bed for four days, and never ran farther than 10 miles.

I don’t recommend it.

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If you’re going to run a marathon, train for it. Give yourself enough time to develop your athletic base, endurance, and most importantly, your mental fortitude. Fortunately for me, climbing strengthened my mental muscles and, it turns out, I’m mentally stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.

Leading up to the marathon, when I felt I hadn’t had enough training due to circumstance, I told my friends my mental game would get me through. After all, nearly everything is 90% mental, 10% physical, right? For a marathon, however, I’d cut it down to 60/40.

I leaned on examples of extraordinary individuals. Like the young women who runs half-marathons despite frequent seizures. Or the man with no limbs who climbs mountains. Or any other individual who disregards the resounding “you can’t,” and shows them they can.

We drove up to the start line around 6:30am. I finished off a cup of water, went to the bathroom, and did a few jumping jacks to warm up. My husband and brother-in-law were running together, and I was prepared, and excited to run the race solo.

I headed to the start with my running vest equipped with some extra GU’s, a bottle of water, my phone, and headphones.

When the gun went off, I was elated.

Part of me never expected to make it to the start line.

Even a week before the event I thought about calling in and switching my registration to the half-marathon. I’d only run 10 miles. I didn’t want to disappoint myself. I didn’t want to disappoint my husband. I didn’t want to fail, and have to tell people I hadn’t met my goal. Before I started that marathon, I still believed that having not tried might be better than failing.

I started out slowly, treating the first mile as a warm-up. I began near the back of the group, with maybe ten people behind me. But it felt comfortable. I didn’t need to go out with guns-ablazing. My number one goal was to run the entire race. My number two was finishing with an average 12 minute mile (5:24:00).

Running had never felt so good.

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Before I knew it I was coming up on mile 8.

Then mile 9.

When I passed mile 10, I was in unchartered territory. From then on, every mile was a new record, the official furthest I’d ever run.

Mentally, I was prepared. I knew I could get to mile 20, because I knew I could run 10 miles. Once I got to 20 I knew I could run 6 miles. That was my mental game plan.

It worked.

 

The miles kept passing, and I kept running. Until mile 22, I never felt the need to distract myself.

Those last four miles, though. Damn.

It took a lot to run the last four miles. My legs were aching, knees wanted to buckle, and my hips were so stiff. But I’d run so far, I couldn’t quit.

When I passed the mile 26 marker, I kicked it into high gear.

My last mile was my fastest.

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I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes. The volunteer handing out finisher shirts and metals asked if I was alright. I replied, “I’m just so happy!”

I don’t know what else competes for that moment. Never had I felt so accomplished, so tired, and so elated at one time. It was euphoric.

Running a marathon redefined my limits, and what’s possible for me to achieve. I’m no longer sure of the validity of “I can’t,” because can’t is a misnomer. It confuses what’s possible for you now, for what’s possible for you in the future.

You can, it just might take some time.

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Review: Scarpa Boostic

My first pair of climbing shoes were Scarpa’s, and after my La Sportiva Solutions took their last route, I decided to go back to my climbing roots.

When I tried on the Boostic’s, Scarpa’s “premier weapon for everything past the vertical,”  they reminded me of the La Sportiva Miura’s I had a few years back. The fit is similar, maybe a bit wider, with about the same downturn in the toe, giving it the aggressive feel for steeper routes.

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And true to Scarpa’s claims, the Boostic’s are a powerhouse. I’ve climbed nearly every type of route in them. Sandstone, granite, limestone, multi-pitch, traditional, sport, and bouldering. Disclaimers: I would not recommend these shoes on sandstone, multi-pitch, or trad! At the time I didn’t have another pair of shoes that would fit the bill.

The Boostic is a stiff shoe. I’ve been climbing in these since last November and they still have barely any give. This is my main issue with the shoe. After climbing in the Solutions and getting used to a softer rubber, using a stiff shoe feels uncomfortable and unstable to me.

Honestly, I’ve been waiting for these to blow out so I can go back to the Solutions or the Miura’s. This is also because for me and my feet, La Sportiva’s provide the best fit.

With that being said, I do enjoy wearing these shoes indoors. They are true to size, and when I’m climbing in the gym, I can usually keep them on for multiple routes before I need to give my feet a breather. Because they’re not as downturned as other aggressive shoes like the Instinct, or 5.10’s Hiangle, it’s much easier to smear in these shoes. However, I wouldn’t trust them too much. I tested them out on granite and it didn’t go very well.

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If you’re looking for a stiffer shoe with a good edge, the Boostic is a great shoe. I’d definitely recommend these shoes to someone who’s looking for their first aggressive shoe. It’s the perfect amount of downturn to feel like you’re one with the rock.

Retail for $180, but you can find them on sale for around $110.