The creators of the LP 9'er want to continue promoting the Leave No Trace initiative and get new hikers started on the right path and refresh old hikers on proper hiking etiquette. Learn more about the 7 principles of the Leave No Trace initiative at www.LNT.org
While these hikes are meant to be half-day (or less, or more depending on the hiker), do not take them lightly and always be prepared. Do your homework before hiking by knowing the trail, what to expect, and always have twice as much water as you think you'll need. Some suggestions to have in your backpack before the hikes include:
- Lots of water and electrolytes (gatorade, nuun tablets, etc)
- Proper hiking footwear
- Extra socks (this can be a real life saver!)
- Rain shell
- Fire Starter/lighter
- Headlamp (with extra batteries)
- Duct tape (wrap some around an old credit card to save space)
- Small First-Aid kit
- Small Knife
- Map and Compass
- Food (quick carbs)
You will likely never need most of these items on the 9'er peaks, but it's important to always be prepared because the woods and mountains can be unpredictable. Always be (over) prepared.
1. Hiking pace. Don’t try to hike at your partner’s pace. If your speeds don’t match and you are on a well-defined clear trail, try splitting up for a while. Meet up at predetermined points along the way. This way you can hike at your own speed and enjoy the special solitude of hiking alone; and probably see more wildlife in the process. Every 15 minutes, however, the hiker(s) in front should stop and wait for those in their party to catch up. When splitting up it's good to constantly check on one another. If the trail is confusing however, never separate and hike at a slower pace. Slow and steady wins the race up the mountain.
2. Hiking with kids: As soon as children can walk well by themselves (around age 4 or 5 and certainly by 6 years old), head out on a short day hike to get a feel for your child’s pace, level of interest, and endurance (great local options include Henry's Woods and Heaven Hill Farm Trails on Bear Cub Lane in Lake Placid). You will also test your own patience and tolerance, not to mention your ability to carry your kid back to the car when that last half-mile is just a little too far. Younger kids are much less likely to continue and not complain when the going gets tough. Some kids don’t see the point of suffering like most adults who are too embarrassed to complain. When many kids get tired, hot, wet, or miserable, they simply stop walking.
3. Enjoy the peace and quiet. Leave your electronic devices (phones, radios and music devices) at home. If you want to listen to something, listen to the sounds of the wilderness. Resist the temptation to catch up on your phone calls. If you must bring your phone, take a few pictures then put it back in your backpack and enjoy the nature surrounding you.
Be sensitive to how much noise you make, especially in a group. When you’re outside, sound carries much more than you think. Keep your voice down and don’t make unnecessary noise. Act as though you are in a library or watching a performance in a theatre.
And there’s so much to hear. While there is a distinct lack of city noise such as traffic, honking horns, telephones, buzzers, beepers, car alarms, and (I hope) blaring music, there is no shortage of sound. Sounds of wind, water, birds, and other animals all add to the “music” of the wild. This is the most common reason people go into the woods, to enjoy the sounds of nature and the relative silence that ensues.
4. Stick to pre-arranged plans. If you are hiking with a partner or a group, don’t go off alone without telling someone what you are doing and when you intend to rejoin the group. If you agreed to hike, picnic, or camp in a certain location, don’t make a spur-of-the-moment decision to go off on your own. Your group could get worried or even frantic if you disappear. They could even get hurt or worse if they go looking for you in unfamiliar territory or in the dark.
5. Stay on the trail. Hike on existing trails. They are designed for the high impact of many hikers. Walk single-file so as not to widen it. Wear hiking boots so you can keep on the trail through wet or muddy stretches. Skirting puddles creates additional side trails and unnecessary erosion. Don’t shortcut the switchbacks. They are designed to minimize erosion and ease the ascent and decent in steep sections of the trail. Cutting these corners causes downhill drainage that can quickly erode a trail. When taking a rest break, move off the trail to a hard, rocky area, a non-vegetated place, or a place with durable vegetation, such as dry grass. When able, always do the "rock hop" and stay off all vegetation on the peaks.
6. Share the trail. You have a pace that is natural and comfortable. If people behind you catch up, step aside—typically to the right—and let them pass. While this may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many hikers choose to speed up instead. The problem is that slower hikers usually can’t maintain the faster pace and must slow down eventually, so faster hikers catch up anyway. Repeating this becomes uncomfortable for everyone, so don’t do it. Also remember those going up have the "right-away" when you're coming down, so step aside and let them pass (and say hello)
7. If you pack it in, pack it out. Whatever you bring in with you take it out with you. Everything. Every time. This is how we leave no trace.
8. Respect the environment and wildlife. Don’t alter the environment to your liking or bring home souvenirs. Allow the next person to see as much of the natural world as you did. It’s exciting to find an arrowhead or deer skull by the trail. Why not leave it there so the next hiker can enjoy the same excitement as you did?
You are in the home of wild animals and birds, so respect their need for undisturbed territory. Disturbing animals can interfere with feeding or breeding behavior. When following an animal for a photo, stay downwind, avoid sudden motions, and don’t charge or give chase. Resist the temptation to feed them. Leaving seeds for birds or breadcrumbs or nuts for squirrels can upset the natural balance of their food chain. Feeding wild animals can make them dependent on human food, which causes big problems, like bears in some areas ripping the doors off cars to get to the people-food inside.