Winter brings with it a new list of ‘Leave No Trace’ principles for outdoor recreationists. Here are 12 ways to recreate responsibly when wintry conditions hit Colorado’s backcountry, including the seven ‘winter’ principles of Leave No Trace.
1. Plan ahead. Be prepared for the worst.
Plan your wintry route ahead of time to avoid getting caught in a blizzard or avalanche. Included in a plan for the backcountry route is a map and compass to eliminate the need for tree markings, rock cairns or flagging. Colorado Avalanche Information Center provides forecasts for avalanche conditions; reports of accidents, injuries, and damage by avalanches, and more. To safely plan for winter conditions, carry and learn how to use gear such as an avalanche beacon, probe and shovel. It’s also important to make sure the car is packed with items that may help with winter road emergencies.
2. Hike the trail in a sustainable way
It’s tempting to take a few steps off-trail during snowmelt season when trails are slushy and muddy. However, Leave No Trace principles require hikers to walk through the mud and slush in order to protect plants and vegetation and to avoid creating new trails.