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Earth Matters : Leaving a positive trace on the land

By Monya Relles

Over a long weekend in August, my parents and I met in Vermont to hike Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain in the state. The section we walked, struggled and scrambled up is a steep path, part of Vermont’s Long Trail, and the summit offers breathtaking views of the sloping Green Mountains.

The ridge is a delicate alpine zone and “Leave No Trace” principles — which focus on minimum impact while enjoying the outdoors — are posted all along the hike, beginning to end. A Green Mountain land steward at the top told me that in 2004 the mountaintop was practically bare rock. In contrast, the weekend I climbed it, it was awash with life: from petite mountain sandwort flowers to an abundance of low-bush blueberries to a pretty house finch perched near the summit. But I just couldn’t help thinking: Can’t we do even better than this?

Published in Earth Matters on September 3, 2021.

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