In Western Horseman's June 2006 print edition, veteran horse camper Les Sellnow offers horse-camping planning tips in the feature "Planning for Adventure." Here, the Riverton, Wyoming, horseman shares advice for setting up and leaving a "no-trace" campsite.
"The highest compliment anybody can pay you occurs when he arrives at a campsite the day after you left it and wonders whether anyone's camped there recently," says Les. "Your objective should be to leave it much as it was when you got there, if not better."
According to Les, the first and foremost campsite rule is to leave no sign of human waste. He recommends using a shovel to dig a small hole, then using the shovel to properly cover any fecal matter and toilet tissue. It's disgusting to think about, but Les says he's seen more than one campsite ruined in this regard by discourteous campers.
When it comes to other kinds of refuse, he notes, "If you can pack it in, pack it out."Don't leave trash behind, even if it's not yours.
When pitching camp, Les says to make sure you're back a minimum of 200 feet from water and trails. "A water source is your prime requirement," he says of site selection. But, he adds, proximity to water often means boggy ground. To avoid damaging the area, look for a sandy or rocky strip of beach to use as water access.
Les also recommends that you check with jurisdiction authorities to determine current fire regulations. If your campsite has a pre-established fire pit, don't make a new one. If you're in an area that's never had a fire pit before, asbestos cloths made for such use helps protect the ground. When gathering fuel for your fire, use only dead and downed timber.
"We're really strong proponents of leave-no-trace camping," Les says. "And really that amounts to using a lot of common sense and courtesy."