Practice these rules on your trips to preserve the environment for
yourself and your fellow citizens.
Keep the group size small to reduce the impact on camp sites
Prepare the trip well:
Do your research: geography; local fishing, forestry and wildlife; laws
Discuss the trip with all participants before you head out: route,
logistics, emergency plans, consensus on purpose and pace of the trip, rules of the
group such as what's listed on this web page.
Make sure you carry enough food for the trip and do not rely on the
environment for emergency food.
Carry appropriate equipment: e.g. quality raingear, tents and cooking
Stay on existing trails and portages. Following wildlife trails is
better than cutting new trails.
Use switchbacks on trails. Don't cut a new trail to save a few meters of
walking, as you might be starting an erosion problem.
Don't wear ridge-soled boots if you can help it. These soles destroy
moss and other vegetation which leads to erosion. Try running shoes: they flex much better
and will allow you to kneel in the canoe without trapping your legs.
Use existing campsites. Keep your heavy-use areas small to minimize soil
compaction. Don't expand the campsite.
If you have to choose a new campsite, choose one that will disturb trees
or shrubs as little as possible. If your tent is pitched on top of live vegetation, move
it after two days.
Don't "improve" the site by digging trenches or pulling
Use a floored tent. Don't make shelters or bedding out of branches or
other natural materials. Bring a light-weight tarp if you need to make extra protection.
Use camp stoves whenever possible. It will save wood and give you a
chance to do some star-gazing.
If a fire is used, keep it small and use existing fire pits.
When a fire pit is absent, build your fire on bedrock or pure sand.
Where this is not possible, dig a pit down to the mineral layer of the soil. Pick a spot
that avoids roots, overhanging trees, needles, leaves and other forest litter.
Use only dead wood for the fire.
Drown your fire thoroughly with water. Stir the ashes. Add more
water.Leave unused firewood for the next camper. Pack out all unburned bits of garbage,
such as aluminum foil, cans, etc. In wilderness sites, eliminate all traces of the
Sit down to have a smoke; so you can be careful with your ashes.
Remember that cigarette butts are garbage and should be packed out. They
won't degrade naturally. A small metal cough drop box is a good way of storing them.
Use existing outhouses and latrines whenever possible.
Where necessary, dig a small hole about 3 inches (8 cm) in the soil, at
least 100 ft (30 m) from any open water to protect lakes and streams from pollution. Use
single-ply white toilet paper and bury everything completely.
Carry out everything that you carried in
Wash dishes, clothes and yourself in a dishpan, not in the lake or
stream.Rinse away from open water. Dump waste water in a pit located at least 100 ft (30
m). Use liquid or bar soap instead of detergents.Fish guts attract flies and bears to a
camp site. After cleaning and gutting fish, collect the waste and bury it in soil far away
from the camp site. Or better, paddle it out to a rock island where birds will eat it.
Remember, you are a guest in someone else's home. Avoid disturbing
wildlife, especially young animals or nesting birds.
Avoid overhunting and overfishing. All animals and plants are protected
in our parks.
Obey all fish, game and forestry regulations. If you don't know, find
Avoid picking edible wild foods except where they are abundant. Wildlife
depends on this food. Collect mushrooms only if you are an expert: many of our mushrooms
are deadly poisonous.
Never feed wildlife, intentionally or otherwise. Guard your food and
garbage carefully and keep all food out of your tent. In bear country, seal all your food
and garbage in a pack overnight and hang it at least 6 m high on a rope between two trees.
Bears that develop a taste for handouts eventually have to be shot.
Pack out any garbage.
Cover up fire pits and latrines that are in poor locations so that other
campers will stop using them.
Let the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (or equivalent in other
provinces/states) know about any major problems that you may find.
Feminine Hygiene Considerations:
|Cheryl Stoltz, a proud mom and competent camper
in Ontario, gives the following advice when asked about how to dispose of feminine hygiene
products. I would like to add a comment from Stephen Herrero's
well-researched book on bears and the wilderness camper: "A basic
precaution should be to wear tampons, not external pads." But here is
|I am so
glad you asked! I am just disgusted and grossed out by all the wraps, applicators etc. I
see out there! It really gives us gals a bad rep. I have pasted an excerpt from an article
I was asked to write a few years ago for a course and then a magazine (it was not
published). Hope it has what you want to know.
"This brings us to a topic that is even less talked about and even more avoided. That
is, feminine hygiene. After quite some research, I have come to the conclusion that there
are few options available to the fairer members of the species.
It takes very hot fires and some time to burn tampons, and a lot of discreteness for those
uncomfortable dancing up to the fire and making the toss (but they do burn). Tampons take
years to break down, and unless they are 100% cotton (Tampax 100% cotton or Terra Femme),
they will release organochlorines and dioxins over the next century or so. Another problem
with just dumping them somewhere is that you leave behind an item saturated in blood that
is going to attract animals. Tampons are best packed out. Applicators should be packed out
or burned as well. Carry a zip lock inside a zip lock (the new slide locks are nice), or a
1 lb coffee can with a lid. Place your feminine waste and TP in one of these, and then
take it back to the campfire and just dump it in. The idea of the double zip locks is so
that the out one carries fresh TP, and the inner one gets your waste. (If you just have
TP, you can burn it right there if you are careful. Works best if you punch some holes low
down around the can.)
Pads work better for short trips unless you are doing white water. One thing to keep in
mind though is that canoeists tend to get wet - picture yourself for days on end in rain
where there is not a part of you that stays dry. The only thing worse than being
constantly cold and wet, would be to have your period and not be able to keep your pad
dry! "Prima" brand are super thin, super absorbent pads (also a great addition
to the first aid kit) that burn well, or are easy to stack and pack out in minimal space.
Other brands have layers of thicker cotton that needs to be torn apart to let air in
before burning. For the thicker pads, you need a hotter fire as well.
All products that have come in contact with blood need to be hung at night with the
garbage and food. An MNR bear specialist once recommended to me that all food and (here he
blushed)feminine products should be sealed in a barrel that is wiped down with Lysol
disinfectant every night. He did not recommend staying away from pads, although I have
heard from others that they have been recommended to do so.
"Instead" is another product available at the larger drugstores. It is a small
diaphragm with a collector in the middle. They burn great, and stack well for easy
carrying. Although they are not recommended for re-use, many users do carefully wash and
re-use them. I am not going to recommend you do this, but see the website below for
opinions. This product is not overly expensive, given its convenience. The package insert
also says "Instead" will not be noticed if left in during romantic, passionate,
nocturnal activities with your paddle partner. Just don't count on them for birth control.
The Keeper has been around since 1981, and is the culmination of research done on cups
that have been developed over the past 100 years. Made of rubber, it has a long life span,
and is re-usable. Easy to insert, it just needs to be emptied and wiped out occasionally
(leaves work great) or rinsed (take your water bottle with you). The initial expense is a
shock (~$50), but I have spoken with women who have used it for 1, 7, 10 and 12 years and
they all say it is worth more to them than their thermarests!
Instead and the Keeper may be ordered by e-mail or phone. Both have information on the
web, and telephone help lines (automated and human). For general information and opinions
on these products, plus links, visit www mum.org. This site has a wealth of information
Caught without any of the above? Moss, nature's natural diaper, is usually available, is
comfortable, absorbent and works well. You might want to place a little bit of TP on the
earthen side so that it doesn't muck up your undergarments.
So there you have it. Trip to the 'loo in an environmentally friendly fashion, and you
will be able to come back to a pristine area down the road.
Keeper www magi.com/-keeper/ or 1-800-680-9739
Opinions on these: www mum.org"
Acknowledgement: These guidelines have been published by the Conservation Council of
Ontario in form of a pamphlet: "The Woodsman's Code".
Back to Erhard's Canoeing Page