Submitted by Slim Woodruff 2/24/2017
Havasupai has been called a paradise, and deservedly so. Havasupai is a favorite destination for the first time hiker. However some of these new time campers, and admittedly many of the old ones, do not seem to understand the idea of Leave no Trace.
Leave no Trace is a system of ethics regarding the use and protection of public lands. It is a system of ethics, because often one may follow rules only when there is a possibility of getting caught. Ethics are what one does when no one is watching. There are seven principles of Leave No Trace.
Plan ahead and prepare.
Make sure of the regulations before starting down. Don’t go without a permit. Day hikes are not allowed. Alcohol and illegal drugs are prohibited, and use of same is disrespectful. Yes, there are those who indulge and they usually get away with it. However when visiting a friend’s home, one respects the wishes of said friend. The Havasupai do not allow alcohol. The same goes for cliff diving, drones, and professional photography.
Travel and Camp on Durable surfaces
Stay on the trail. Admittedly, most of the trail is in a wash, but in those last, long, sunny switchbacks, do not take shortcuts between said switchbacks.
If visiting certain waterfalls, be aware that the newly-cut creek bed is unstable in places. Respect those signs which tell you to stay back from the edge. Climbing cliffs and rocks is prohibited. Hiking anywhere but the one established trail is prohibited. This is the home of the Havasupai people, and they don’t want trespassing.
Dispose of waste properly.
Simply put, this means carry it out. If you can carry it in full, you can carry it out empty. Do not toss it by the trail. Do not leave it in the campground. There are those who decry the use of pack horses to carry gear. Then they leave stuff behind. How do you think trash which is left, there gets out? On these same pack horses. Trash containers in the outhouses are, not for your camping trash.
If some of your equipment breaks or tears, carry it out. If clothing or shoes get too dirty to ever use again, carry them out. The only exception is leftover stove fuel. It is permissible to ask the rangers if they can use this. But ask first.
Soap does not go in the water, period! Not biodegradable, not hemp soap, not natural, hand-crafted by Buddhist monks soap. Biodegradable soap is designed to be dumped on the ground, not in the water. That is suppose to be 200ft from any water source. Would you like to drink water with soap in it? Soap affects not only fish and other aquatic wildlife, but the microbiological systems in the water.
Leftover food must be carried out. Animals will eat it, yes, but that trains them to become dependent on humans and thus pests. Conditioning the critters to damage tents, packs, and other gear while they attempt to search for a easy meal. Buried food will be dug up.
Use the outhouses provided. Yes, sometimes it is a long walk, particularly after dark. Yes, sometimes there is a line. But if people do not use the outhouse, the campground will start to smell like a cat box.
Hanging food from trees is a good idea, but take down the ropes when finished. I collect several yards of cord and rope every time I am down there. This could be a hazard to birds or to climbing animals.
Leave what you find (Anything that is natural).
No collecting rocks, flowers, or any artifacts. You may, however, pick up as much trash as you wish.
Minimize campfire impact.
This one is simple: no campfires are allowed. Yes, you may see fires, but they are illegal, rude, and inconsiderate. You will notice leftover fire rings and blackened ground from these illegal fires. Some of the fire rings are residue from maintenance being done be local crews during the winter off season. Visitors and Tourist are not permitted to have fires at anytime.
Do not feed the animals or leave leftover food. See above. If you bring a dog, keep it on a leash. Regarding Supai dogs, it is temping to feed them, but do you feed junk food to your own dogs?
Be Considerate of other visitors.
Not everyone wants to hear your boom box or your external speakers. Some hikers take to their bed sooner than you so as to get an early start on the trail hiking out. The campground is very crowded and close quarters. Keep the noise down.
Stay within the confines of your camp. The campground is almost always full. If you have a smaller group, do not spread out over several tables. If someone camps right next to you, it is usually because there is no other place available. Play nicely and share.
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