So now you've had a fun time in the woods, mountains, commercial campground or wherever you've pitched your tent and it's time to go home. There are many things that now need to be done when breaking down your camp site. From tents and other gear, to litter and your campfire ashes … all of it needs to be disposed of before you leave the area. You always want to leave your camping area in better condition than when you arrived. Maybe the people before you left candy wrappers, cans, bottles or other items lying around. Help old Mother Nature out, and in turn, be a friend of the animals in the area and your fellow campers who will use the site after you. Depending on where you're camping, you can both collect and hike out your trash to be disposed of later, or if you are in an area that allows it, burn all the flammable items to minimize the weight.
You might say, "Hey, it's biodegradable, why can not I just leave it here to rot?" Well, it might be okay to rot away and not clutter up the area, but the animals in the area might eat it and become sick, after all they're not used to eating cooked stuff with spices and all. In some cases, pieces of garbage can fall into streams and cause fish to be injured. Each time this happens, the ecosystem gets more and more out of whack and the effects can be devastating. True, taking good care of the site might be an inconvenience, but if you want to come back to the same area again, would not you want it to look as nice as you found it? Character and stewardship of nature go hand in hand … but I'll get off my soapbox now. Remember the rule: Pack out what you pack in.
Packing up your personal gear is a pretty straight forward process. If you want your equipment to last as long as possible, everything should be as clean and dry as you can get it, before you stow it. Whether you roll your sleeping bag or stuff in a compression sack, brush it off. When you break your tent down make sure there is no debris in or on it. Most new tents are made to be free-standing, so keep the poles in and undo the stakes. You can then lift and shake out the tent to clean it. If that's not possible due to time constraints or weather conditions, pack the tent up as you normally would, but be sure to open, hang and dry it out before you stow it for your next trip. Remember, if you put ANYTHING away without drying it, when you open it next time you will have the equipment covered in mold & mildew.
Many people use campfires to cook as well as the trusty, old camp stove. Depending on the location, you may need or want to clean out the fire pit area (in a well used site that has established camping areas). Also, if you are camping in the woods, as a good outdoors person, you should either clean out the fire pit you created, scattering the DEAD ashes in a wide area, well away from where you camped OR you should pack out the cold ashes to be disposed of in a landfill. Be sure to replace the sod, dirt and whatever else you removed to create the pit. When you are cooking with a stove, the clean disposal process will vary based on the fuel you use. If you are carrying a liquid fuel stove, you will most likely have a special fuel canister and not need to dispose of any waste. However, if you are carrying a propane or dual-fuel camp stove, you will need to dispose of the space, metal fuel containers after cooking. Be sure you NEVER leave them in the woods; they take a very long time to fade away into Nature's beauty.
Remember, if you take care of your equipment, and the environment, you will be able to use the gear and the great outdoor spaces for a long time in the future.
You can find more tips like this one at Birdseye Outdoor Supply . If you would like more detailed advice and training about leaving the woods as you found them, please visit this organization's website: Leave No Trace .