Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer
With hundreds of miles of hiking opportunities in Macon County – be they on the Appalachian Trail (AT), Bartram Trail, Mainspring Conservation Trust properties, or Forest Service roads – traversing responsibly is key for not only everyone’s enjoyment, but for the environment as well. Recently, Sarah Adams, Appalachian Trail Conservancy regional manager for Georgia and the Nantahala National Forest, shared information at the Macon County Regional Library about the concept and practice of Leave No Trace (LNT).
“LNT can apply to everywhere you walk, bike, hike, and travel,” said Adams. “For example, there are many day, section, and thru hikers year-round on the AT, and we want everyone, for a long long time, to enjoy the recreation and challenge aspects of that trail … to preserve the trail for the future. So how do we reduce impact?”
Anyone can order an AT Conservancy LNT card to clip to a backpack. The small card reminds hikers of the “seven principles,” including: Leaving the trail the way it was found, which means, for instance, not carving initials and messages into trees; minimizing campfire evidence by burning wood only in existing campfire rings; not feeding wildlife; abiding by camping and trail posted regulations; staying on designated trail, instead of establishing new trails; carrying out all trash; burying bodily waste; and, more.
Plus, Adams instructed individuals present at her library lecture on smart safety preps.
“Anytime you go on a walk or a hike, let someone know where you’re going,” she said. “That’s so important. Anything can happen, even if you think it is just going to be for a short time.”
In addition, walkers/hikers should always bring at least a small backpack that includes water, a snack, a flashlight, clothing/gear appropriate for the weather conditions, and a first aid kit. For longer hikes, and overnight stays on trails, more planning is necessary. One tip she shared is that some compactable gear, such as a rain jacket, can serve as a first aid wrap, if necessary. Plus, weather conditions should always be checked before heading out, she noted.
During hunting season, brightly colored clothing and/or a backpack is advisable, she said.
More LNT tips, as well as information about the AT, can be found at www.appalachiantrail.org or at www.LNT.org.