Let’s Talk About 💩

Let’s Talk About 💩
Let’s talk about it. Why? Well, because have to. We’ve all nonchalantly ignored it, or covered it with leaves, or pushed it into the woods, further off trail with a stick. Guilty as charged. We laugh about it with our friends and accept the fact that they’re doing it, too. But, Dispose of Waste Properly is the 3rd Leave No Trace principle. The question used to brush it all off of our “outdoorsy” conscience? If wild animals poop in the woods, what difference does it make if my dog does, too?

There are some huge differences, and the proof is in… well, the poo. Let’s learn!

dog reading book

ew… It’s full of bacteria

“Wild animals are consuming nutrients from the resources around them in their natural habitat, then promptly returning those same nutrients back into the Earth.” (lnt.org)

See the photo from Rocky Mountain National Park’s team below depicting sprouts from bear scat. The food that gets ingested, ends up deposited and regrows. This is important!

“When we start adding in dogs, that balance is thrown way off. Most domesticated pets aren’t eating native plants or wild game – they’re eating processed kibble or Greenies or rawhides or leftover spaghetti your grandpa throws in their food bowl. This results in excess nutrients along the trail, and in turn creates unstable conditions that allow algae blooms and create an easy habitat for invasive plant species to grow.” (lnt.org)

ew… There’s too much of it

Are you still not picking up what I’m putting down? Take a deep breath on this one: all the dogs in the US produce 21 billion pounds of waste each year. And with that, “Just three days worth of poop from 100 dogs has enough bacteria to temporarily shut down 20 miles of a bay or watershed for swimming and shellfishing.” (huffingtonpost.com) So much for jumping in the lake this summer!

Dog in Lake
Say what?

Wes Siler from Outdoor Magazine lays down the heavy load.  “A study conducted on a heavily polluted stream in northern Virginia used DNA analysis to determine that 42% of the controllable bacteria in the water came from dog poop.”

So, let’s help the environment and our fellow hiker’s boots and clean up after our furbabies. It’s doing more harm than good.

Oh… How CAN I Help?

Carry out! Whatever comes out with you must come back with you. I have been using biodegradable Frisco Pet Waste Bags* that you can find on Chewy.com that are super easy, rather large for swift pickup and leakproof for a cleaner clean-up. The packaging is made out of recycled materials and the bag is built from product that will break down faster, so that there’s less guilt about using so much plastic. I tried to do some research on the biodegradability of the bags’ EPI technology, and it’s still plastic materials. For now, these work well and I’ll stick with, but let me know if you’ve found safer options that wont leak – if I am doing this, I might as well go all. the. way!

As for cleaning up while hiking, Frisco sends a great little capsule that attaches to my leash, so I always have some on hand. Plus, I’ve been using an old water bottle with a wide, screw-on lid to pack the bags out in – no stank! I’ll carry it out with the cap sealed tight in my backpack. (I actually got this carry-out idea from a great hiker girl on Instagram but I forget her handle – DM me and I’ll credit you for this genius-ness!)

All in all, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics says it best, “Responsible pet ownership means doing our “doody” to pick up our pet’s waste.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Leave No Trace principles, visit their website at lnt.org.


References:

Blog Excerpt from Leave No Trace Center: https://lnt.org/blog/wildlife-poop-versus-dog-poop-explained

Article from Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/21/dog-poop-tons-feces_n_1440383.html

Outside Magazine Article: https://www.outsideonline.com/2292736/its-time-talk-about-dog-poop 

Not used, but interesting study from Leave No Trace Center: https://www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/2_2_18_OSMP_Pet_Waste_Final_Report-1-201802051053.pdf

*Chewy.com sent me this product in exchange for my open and honest review.

#ICE2017 Helping The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail

I have been posting about local hiking since I started this blog and the @Christina_Skis social media handle. A fellow hiker and outdoor enthusiast, @HBFOutdoors, has created a team of other likeminded explorers in the area to create #ICE2017. Meaning Inspire, Connect and Experience the great outdoor recreation that western Pennsylvania has to offer.

I’ve put together a team of PA hikers and true outdoor enthusiasts for adventure and to give back to the outdoor community of Western Pennsylvania. We’ll be exploring various trails, sharing our adventures, volunteering, and inspiring others to connect with the outdoors for awesome experiences. – Brian Ford, HBFOutdoors

You can view the entire #ICE2017 team at hikebyfaith.com. Brian plans to end the season with a backpacking trip along the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail to raise support for the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Shelters Fund.

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail has provided 40 Adirondack style shelters to hikers for over 40 years. As a result, it has introduced many to a lifelong passion for backpacking. Some of these shelters are under restoration to working order. However, 2017 may be the last last year for four shelter areas. The Route 56, Grindle Ridge, Route 31, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike are in need.

     Finally, renewed hope comes in the form of a $10,000 grant from REI to restore these remaining shelters. Now, PA Parks & Forests is asking for your support. Still, there is $14,000 remaining in need to restore these remaining shelters. As of June 22, 2017, they have reached 14% of their goal.

How to Help

You can learn more about the shelters fund and donate, at the PA Parks & Forests Foundation.

Shelter images were taken with permission from the LHHT Facebook page.

Western PA Hideaway – Lick Hollow

On your way to Ohiopyle, stop here for a quiet hike or picnic under mountaintops before arriving to the summer crowds at the popular state park.

  • Park: Lick Hollow in Forbes State Forest
  • Location: Along Route 40 East, incline headed up to the summit.
  • Trail Type: Out & Back, 4 Miles

Pine Knob Trail & Overlook

As for trails in the area, there are 4. We chose Pine Knob Trail, a 2 mile hike to an all-natural overlook over the Laurel Highlands. The beginning of the trail was covered in ferns and gnats but quickly moved into the traditional rocky style hike that Pennyslvania loves to present. We hiked through one switchback and eventually ended at a fork in the road where we chose to walk left and ended walking onto what looked like a quad or snowmobile trail with a few other entrances to other paths. We easily found the right way to hike (straight through to continue along the path) after backtracking a few feet. Duh. Soon after, we arrived at a rocky ledge with a view that resembles that of the pull-off along the summit and route 40, but of course, the journey and the arrival experience here is much better.

Lick Hollow in Forbes State Forest, Fayette County

“Just 2 miles long, and stretches from the picnic area to the Pine Knob overlook. The trail parallels Lick Run for parts of its length, but it is a rugged trail for the most part. Trail elevation changes roughly 700 feet from the lowest 1,440 feet above sea level at the picnic area, to approximately 2,130 feet at Pine Knob Overlook. However, nothing to worry about as it’s only Pennsylvania. Prepare for a 4 hour roundtrip. Pack plenty of liquids during the summer and warm clothes in the winter.” – Trail Map (View Here)

Hike to another area of Forbes State Forest, Quebec Run Wild Area, start here with Whitetail Trail. A 9.5 mile journey will get you to the top of the mountain into Farmington, PA. Farmington is full of history, and offers tourist sites such as Fort Necessity National Battlefield and Braddock’s Grave. #GeorgeWashingtonWasHere

This area is a great spot if you’re a local looking to get away into the woods minus the Ohiopyle crowds or a visitor that wants a beautiful aerial view of western PA with a nice hike to boot.