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Jun 01, 2015

Little River State Park, VT:  You wake up early, antsy to climb Camel’s Hump Mountain and summit to the 360* view.  Hours later, legs heavy with the repeated squat-like steps up the mountain’s side, you hear the “Sound of the drums, Beating in my heart, The thunder of guns, Tore me apart”.  And suddenly realize, “You've been, Thunderstruck”!

Every year, thousands of hikers are struck by lightening.  Yes.  Thousands.  This week, we decided to discuss different tactics we can do if we find ourselves in a lightning storm.  Please, keep in mind, these are not sure-fire ways to avoid the dangers of a lightning storm, only precautions that may minimize the threat.

“I was caught; In the middle of a railroad track; I looked round; And I knew there was no turning back”

Let us learn from the above lyrics by making a pact to never find ourselves caught, looking around, and finding there is no turning back.  Best way to ensure that happens?  Plan ahead and prepare by avoiding thunderstorms.  In mountainous areas, large storms tend to cumulate in mid-afternoon; knowing this, we can plan our trip accordingly by either hitting the high-peak trails early, summiting/descending before the storm hits or by heading out post-storm.  If post-storm, be aware of slippery terrain and remember to avoid walking around any puddles that may have formed on the trail (stepping to either side can widen the trail, harm surrounding vegetation, or send us into flight due to the slippery terrain).

“Broke all the rules; Played all the fools; Yeah yeah they, they, they blew our minds; And I was shaking at the knees”

Okay, so maybe the weather report was wrong (or perhaps we broke all the rules, figuring the storm would not be that intense) and while on top of the summit that blew our minds, we heard the first boom.  Saw the first strike.  And felt the earth shaking at the knees.  What now?  Well, there are a few things to consider: 

1.  The basic goal of a lightning bolt is to discharge its energy into the ground.  The basic goal of a human is to not be its connection to said ground.  With that in mind…

2. Consider the distance and usefulness of the nearest shelter.  An ideal shelter is not a tent, shed, or out-house.  Rather, it is a 4-walled structure with electricity and plumbing—both which serve as a connection to the ground through which the lightning can discharge its energy.  If, say, there was no nearby shelter, doing the jig down to the car before the storm hits is another option to consider; however, when it is safe to exit the vehicle, be sure to jump with both feet to ensure we do not create a connection between the vehicle and the ground through which the lightning’s energy can travel. 

3.  Get below tree line, avoid tall objects, and nestle low into a dry ravine or depression in the earth.  When doing so, do not lay flat; if lightning strikes nearby, energy can travel through the ground and be harmful to our bodies.  The lower we can get to the earth and the less contact we have with the ground, the better.

Knowing the above could help us while in unpredictable elements; but the only way to ensure our safety is to plan ahead and prepare:  knowing when storm might strike, getting acquainted with the area, pinpointing safety shelters, planning emergency exit routes, and always telling our plans to a family member or friend. 

Post thunder and lightning inspection.

Just recently, the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer East Central Team was caught in a Vermont thunderstorm which roared through the Little River State Park.  Luckily, after checking the weather, the two decided against hiking one of the famous high peaks in the area; however, there was no chance of avoiding the storm’s tantrum after a large tree fell across the only exit of the park.  With the above knowledge in mind, the two took refuge in parks’ restrooms until the lighting subsided.  This sequence of planning ahead and preparing potentially saved them from an epic.  

“It's alright, we're doin' fine; It's alright, we're doin' fine, fine, fine; Thunderstruck, yeah, yeah, yeah”

So be careful!  Avoid the thunderstorms.  And keep exploring. 

"You've been Thunderstruck”

Katelyn Stutterheim and Blake Jackson

Leave No Trace’s Katelyn Stutterheim and Blake Jackson 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, Coleman, Hi-Cone, The North Face, REI, Smartwool and Yakima.


May 30, 2015

Portland, OR: While in town for the International Trails Symposium The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers stopped in to visit KEEN, one of the wonderful partners that supports the Traveling Trainer program. During their visit, they had the opportunity to tour the offices and learn more about the inner workings of this fantastic company! 

The 4 reasons why we love KEEN, amongst many others -

1. They are a partner of the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program, and for that we are very appreciative. It’s partnerships like KEEN’s that help cultivate a community of awareness and appreciation for the outdoors, as well as help educate many others on how to Leave No Trace.

2. They make great products! From KEEN.DRY to KEEN.PROTECT to KEEN.CUSH, the Hybrid.ologies offer maximum performance, ability and comfort. Check out the Traveling Trainers KEEN’s in action in the snow.

3. They have a strong commitment to protecting the environment. They are on the forefront of implementing sustainable practices, such as: sustainable product development, strategic sourcing options, reduction of waste in manufacturing, impactful community outreach, harvesting waste streams for use in new shoes, and a progressive work environment.

4. The Traveling Trainers spend a lot of time in their KEENS, and their feet are always happy after a big day of education and adventuring. Next time you go to a Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer event check out the team’s feet. They will be outfitted with an awesome pair of KEEN shoes! Find an event in your area: Team Calendars

Let KEEN’s sustainability practices be an inspiration during your next adventure, and reduce your impact by Leaving No Trace.

Enjoy the pictures from their visit and make sure to watch the video of how the office building was built with sustainability in mind. Very cool!

Informative chalk art in the entrance way to the KEEN Garage and offices, discussing how the space was built as eco-friendly as possible

Leave No Trace Education Director, Ben Lawhon, admiring KEEN’s environmental storyboard

Now that’s something we can all get behind!

Chris Enlow, KEEN’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, showing the Leave No Trace Crew around the offices

Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, Jenna and Sam, sporting their favorite pair of KEENs

Chris Enlow, Sam Ovett, Jenna Hanger and Ben Lawhon

The KEEN Garage Retail Space – how many upcycled materials can you spot being used to make this space functional and fun?

Wouldn’t you want to stay?

We did!


Adventure on!


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.

May 28, 2015

Waterbury, VT: Have you ever had an EPIC because you accidentally took the baby shark trail and left your first rest stop without a quick gear check, leaving yourself camera-less after doing the jig to catch your awe-mazing moment?

To be sure this doesn’t happen to you, here are a few key terms, ideas, and philosophies to remember this summer while getting ready to hit the trails:

AN EPIC:  This is what happens when you forget a few essentials while planning and preparing—often ending with picker filled limbs, stubbed toes, and fresh pack tears.  Not a single step went as planned and zero goals for the adventure were accomplished.  You feel lucky to have survived.

BABY SHARKS:  A well-maintained trail, with either man-placed or natural rocks, that are just big enough, and just sharp enough to attack you through the soles of your shoes.    

GEAR CHECK:  You will learn this one fast—whenever you leave your picnic site, camp, or rest area, stare down the area like Chuck Norris stares down his opponents—check for crumbs, micro-trash, or your precious gear.   

DOIN’ THE JIG:  That thing you do to catch sunset at the vista point.  Somewhere between a jog, skip, and a waddle—imagine the “potty” dance in a forward motion.

AWE-MAZING:  That moment when the jig paid off and the true meaning of awesome and amazing come to light.  Go be awe-mazed. 

Not only is this the latest and greatest lingo-on-trail, but it proves several solid points on how to have successful adventures in the out-of-doors.  Be sure to plan ahead and prepare by knowing the distance and the terrain of your intended route and wearing/bringing appropriate gear.  Remember, sometimes durable surfaces include baby sharks and sloppy puddles—find out beforehand so you do not end up with bruised, soggy feet.  Debating on letting your crumbs run free?  Take the extra seconds to check your resting areas; not only will the little critters will thank you for helping them fight their addiction to human food and for steering them off the road of habituation, but you will also lose less gear.     

Stay safe on the trails this summer and be sure to share your adventures, your AWE-mazing moments.

Katelyn and Blake

Leave No Trace’s Katelyn Stutterheim and Blake Jackson 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.

May 27, 2015

Redwood National Park, CA: Spending time outside can bring out the inner child in all of us; exploration, discovery, curiosity, and wonder are part of any outdoor experience, an area where the excitement of finding and observing something spectacular in nature is a tide pool. Adults and kids can spend hours (depending on the tides) searching through the rocks and seeing what creatures inhabit this zone. Tide pools consist of a sponges, sea stars, sea anemones, tubeworms, snails, crabs, and so much more. Due to the popularity of some beaches and the accessibility of tide pools (depending on tides), exploring tide pools is best done with care and certain considerations should be taken. (National Geographic)


Please use the following list of recommendations on your next trip to a tide pool.

1.     Walk on rocks to avoid crushing anything or damaging any plants. Be careful when walking on the rocks in a tide pool because they can be slippery and jagged.

2.     Know the rules and regulations of the area you are visiting. Check to see if seashell collection is allowed. Research the rules and specific considerations about handling or touching anything living in a tide pool.

3.     If handling or touching is allowed, be very gentle when touching anything living in a tide pool. If it does not come off the rocks easily, don’t remove it because it could die after being pried from a rock. If anything flees let it go. (Monterey Bay Aquarium)

4.     When touching anything in a tide pool, wet your hands first so that your skin does not damage their delicate surfaces. (

5.     If you lift up a rock to look underneath it, place it back in the same way that you found it so you don’t kill any animals living under it.

6.     Anything that you pickup to observe should be place back exactly where you found it. Rather than picking it up, just observe it from a distance.


Using these techniques when you are visiting a fragile and beautiful tide pool can help reduce your impact on it. If we all do our part to minimize our impact on tide pools, we preserve their integrity and allow for future visitors and future generations to enjoy.  


Thanks for reading and remember to be like the Center’s mascot Bigfoot and Leave No Trace.

Pat and TJ

Leave No Trace’s Patrick and Theresa Beezley 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.