San Juan Island, WA: Have you been to a Labyrinth lately? If not, we suggest taking a stroll through your local sacred gateway sometime soon. Many people walk labyrinths for the vibrant rows of natural colors – sunflowers, poppies, asters, and the list goes on. While some are after the herbs – with the beloved and relaxing scent of lavender dancing through the air, what’s not to like about a Labyrinth? Others are looking for a passage to self-discovery, one that may contain balance and regeneration. There’s no doubt about it, people visit these healing garden spaces for all sorts of reasons. Though, most visitors are not looking for or thinking about how they can Leave No Trace while experiencing a Labyrinth.
This past week, the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers West Team had a chance to visit the Whispers of Nature Labyrinth on Lopez Island in Washington. On their visit, the notorious “Pack-it-in, Pack-it-out” Leave No Trace catch phrase caught their eye as they prepared to enter the beautiful path under an archway of Tibetan freedom flags. Now, we should mention that this isn’t just any Labyrinth.
This particular seven circuit Labyrinth was dreamt up by Nick and Susie Teague, a local Lopez Island couple whose roots grow deep into outdoor ethics soil. Nick – a veteran Bureau of Land Management employee has helped to lay the foundation for the development of educational and interpretive projects for use in public, private and academic venues. Nick incorporated Leave No Trace practices into this foundation last year when he worked extensively with the Center on the 2014 San Juan Island Hot Spot. As a result of his efforts, the island communities are motivated and passionate about promoting minimal impact outdoor recreation. Included in these community members are the various Island Youth Conservation Corps, who participate in monthly volunteer projects, working to protect the natural beauty of the fragile coastal ecosystem.
With so much hype about responsible recreation and pure love for their land, the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling trainers should not have been surprised as they browsed through the information on the kiosk and came across the familiar, but tailored tips to participate in outdoor ethics at the Labyrinth. Suggestions like:
1. Walking only, no bikes.
2. No Pets.
3. Stay on pathways inside the Labyrinth.
4. Leave the flowers, plants and herbs for others to enjoy.
5. Be considerate to others.
6. And of course the infamous… Pack it in, pack it out.
They wrap up the suggestions by encouraging participants to enjoy their experience and thanking them. By following these guidelines, walkers will help to ensure that the Labyrinth stays open for all to enjoy.
The incorporation of Leave No Trace into the Whispers of Nature Labyrinth is a perfect example of how the science based seven principles are relevant in settings where you least suspect it; And that Leave No Trace extends beyond the backcountry corridors to include all types of recreational users and spaces. So the next time you’re at a skate park, or touring the grounds of a historic estate, or collecting produce at a community garden, get creative, connect with those places and think about how the Leave No Trace principles are applicable.
See you downstream,
Jenna and Sam
Leave No Trace’s Jenna Hanger and Sam Ovett are part of the 2015 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 America, Deuter, Hi-Cone, REI, Smartwool, The North Face, and Yakima.