Seven Principles

4 Ways To Protect the Alpine

Susy Alkaitis - August 25, 2019

While the alpine brings to mind a successful hike and sweeping views, it is also home to delicate ecosystems in which many organisms cannot survive. With soil acidic as lemon juice, fierce winds, ice and a short growing season to battle, alpine ecosystems are home to some of the most rare and adaptable plants in the world. Use these tips to help protect sensitive alpine areas!

1. Prepare for the weather conditionsIt can be 75 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny at the base of a mountain and still be in the 40’s and raining at the top. Always check weather conditions before heading out, and plan accordingly. Even if it is supposed to be a nice day, bring extra layers. Seeking shelter in an alpine environment is not only difficult, but it will lead you off trail, where sensitive alpine plants can easily be trampled.

2. Do the rock walkStick to the trail by following designated trail markers such as cairns and rock borders made by Stewards and Rangers to avoid rare plants such as Boott’s Rattlesnake Root, Lapland Rosebay, and Alpine Azalea. Avoid making your own rock stacks- they can confuse visitors and accidentally lead them off trail where they can get lost and may need help.

3. Keep your dog on a leashHelp your dog do the rock walk with you! With a few frolics in a sensitive alpine ecosystem, dogs can quickly cause a lot of unintentional destruction. Help your dog travel and camp on durable surfaces in the alpine by keeping them on their leash.


4. Pack out ALL the poopBefore embarking on your adventure, learn if outhouses exist along the trail. When possible, always choose to go the bathroom in designated facilities. If nature calls en route to the summit, you are still below tree line and it is permitted in the area, dig a cat hole 6-8 inches deep 200 feet from the trail and water sources. Once your past tree line, it’s BIFFY BAG time! Shallow, delicate pH balanced soil is no place to bury your poop. Play it safe when heading to the alpine and pack a wag bag, biffy bag, any bag that will safely store your poop so that you can pack that stuff outta there! Pack out all waste including trash and dog poop to keep the alpine environment clean.


Like these tips?  Learn more below!

Leave No Trace’s Monika Baumgart and David LeMay are part of the 2019 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of AmericaREIEagles Nest OutfittersDeuter, ThuleFjällräven and Klean Kanteen

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