The Hiker’s Code of Conduct
May 1, 2019
The first time I ever stepped off a trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, my mother grabbed my hand and pulled me swiftly to her side so that no one else would see what I did. “It takes up to 250 years for the cryptobiotic soil to recover,” she scolded. I was 13 and a little embarrassed to be sure, but I never did it again. Too bad there weren’t more LNT-minded mothers around when the government shutdown occurred last winter.
Here’s what it looked like: Trash piled high in the roads and bathrooms overflowing. Locks and chains to closed campgrounds cut open. Vegetation burnt and trampled to death by illegal campsites. Miles of living cryptobiotic soil crushed by off-roaders. It could be a montage in a dystopian thriller, but it’s not. It’s our national parks—or was, only a few months ago.