Skills & Techniques

5 Tips for Leave No Trace Canyoneering

Jessie & Matt - September 5, 2019
Exploring Arroyo Seco

It may be the week after Labor Day, but it’s still HOT out there. Follow these tips for how to #LeaveNoTrace in your water-venture:

1: Canyon walls are steep, so be prepared to pack out your poop if you can’t get at least 70 steps away from water. Portable personal toilet bags are a great way to “go” when you’re in a tight place.

2: Let people know where you’re headed, and research your route. An unplanned scramble out of a canyon endangers both you and sensitive plants and soils, like living biological soil crust.

3: To protect sensitive plants and soils, stick to water, sand and rock whenever possible.

4: Secure your belongings AND your trash. Waterlogged towels, flimsy shoes and busted floatation devices are very common canyon-trash. Anything not in a waterproof bag will probably get soaked. A waterproof dry-bag is ideal, but a heavy duty trash bags will work in a pinch.

5: Many canyons can be navigated by scrambling, but for more technical descents, make sure to learn the rope skills necessary to be safe and keep canyon rocks in great shape. Soft rocks like sandstone can be easily cut and degraded by rope and cord, so use flat webbing for anchor points. Plan for removing your gear when you’re done, since abandoned webbing and rope ends up as trash.

Leave No Trace’s Jessie Johnson and Matt Schneider 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 OutfittersDeuterThuleFjällräven and Klean Kanteen.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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