I've written about the strange and mysterious items that I have found in the backcountry. Of course there are the usual, not-so-interesting suspects: bottles, cans and tin foil, left perhaps in the belief that a Fire Ring Fairy will spirit them away. Here though I want to discuss the things campers leave in the mistaken belief that they are being helpful.
1. Tarps. Hundreds of blue, billowing, unsightly tarps. Perhaps their owners think that the tarps will help shelter someone in need. What really happens is that the tarps get shredded by wind, pounded by rain, chewed on by bears. Pieces of tarp lie scattered along the lakeshores in a bewildering display of plastic. Just say no to leaving tarps!
2. Grills. If you can hike in a grill, why can't you hike one out? Perhaps the owners feel that the next party will show up with hot dogs and no grill. Unfortunately what does happen is that the next party shows up with their own grill and is afflicted with the same inability to bring it out. Soon grills festoon the site with abandon. Pity the wilderness ranger who now must hike these out.
3. "Furniture." Okay so perhaps you have forgotten your crazy creek chair. Sit on the ground? Horrors! Say, let's drag some logs over here to sit on. While we're at it, let's make a table! The really creative make twig chairs or use saws to actually carve chairs. Please, people. If you need chairs and tables, stay home.
4. The biggest fire ring in the universe. Hey, if a few rocks are good, more must be even better! Let's get some linebackers to roll in some really big ones! I have dismantled some rings with 200 rocks. These are unsightly and absolutely unnecessary. Ditto for those people who have a fire ring in their site and decide they can build a new, better one, while leaving the first one there.
5. String in trees. Enough said.
If you are going to leave stuff, please make it good. Expensive sunglasses work. Leathermen are always a plus. Knives of any sort. And beer. If you forget your beer in a stream, wilderness rangers everywhere will salute you.