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A group of six gathered at Old Sacramento’s Trail Mix store Sunday morning to hear author and avid outdoorsman Jordan Summers teach the workshop, “Leave no trace.”
“Leave no trace” consists of seven principles to promote responsible outdoor recreation.
“It allows you to preserve the resources of which no more is being made,” Summers said.
The back country was the focus of the workshop. Summers said the first six-mile stretch of a wilderness area is considered front country. Past that is considered back country. He said five times more people visit front country than the back country.
Summers has been a hiker and active in the outdoors since his childhood in Virginia. He has lived in California since 1968.
He first learned about “Leave no trace” while attending National Outdoor Leadership School in the 1990s. He has led mountain expeditions with lamas, full moon hikes, overnight hikes, taught backpacking courses and led workshops at REI stores. He is the author of “60 hikes within 60 miles: Sacramento.”
Summers is currently retired and leads hikes for the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.
“My husband and I have been interested in getting back out in the wilderness,” said Deborah Finn of Sacramento. “I thought this would be a great way to get back into it and get more knowledge.”
The seven back country principles of “Leave no trace” are: plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, respect wildlife, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other visitors and leave what you find.
Summers led the informal workshop with interactive demonstrations and asking audience members for their opinions on principles.
To plan ahead and prepare, Summers said adventurers need to know about the location and conditions before visiting. He asked those in the group what they had to plan for, and answers varied from whether dogs were allowed to what the weather would be like for their children.
The audience was given cards representing different objects for the principle, “Travel and camp on durable surfaces.” The audience then arranged themselves to guess the order of decomposition. Most were shocked to learn it would take 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose and a million years for a glass bottle.
Summers pointed out the fragility of wilderness vegetation. He asked what those in the audience would do if they were part of a group that wanted to cross a meadow lacking a path.
“I thought the answer was cross in single file,” said Paul Finn of Sacramento. “It’s not true – you want to spread out. You might think you’re doing the right thing, and it may not be.”
To dispose of waste properly, Summers said hikers should carry out everything they took in with them to the wilderness area as well as garbage left by others.
Wildlife can be endangered both actively and passively, so people need to be careful. He said people actively feed squirrels and rats that can carry the bubonic plague. Humans endanger bears through passive actions like not placing food in food lockers.
Bears are relocated the first time they’re found near campsites, Summers said, and they are killed if they return.
Campfire dangers and tips for creating them safely were discussed during, as well. Summers said most people don’t bring enough water to douse a fire completely. He encouraged the use of fire pans, mound fires and building campfires in river tidal zones.
An interactive demonstration taught the audience to be considerate of other visitors and leave what they find.
Summers said to step off a trail 15 feet when taking a break and leave natural objects where they are.
“The value of ‘Leave no trace’ is it’s not a list of rules,” he said. “If you only know one or two things about it, you’ve got a good understanding and you can answer other questions.”
1) Summers leading the workshop.
2) The Trail Mix store exterior.