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Vancouver Island Backbone

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Hiker on the Beaufort Range

Hiking Guide to the

Vancouver Island Backbone

ISBN 0-9680766-1-0

Out of Print
available electronically

Wilderness Ethics

Backcountry travellers have a special duty to familiarize themselves with, and practice strict no trace camping techniques. By leaving the wildnerness untouched by our passage we ensure that others who follow will have an experience equal to our own. The very concept of the Vancouver Island Backbone is to provide a route unmarked and undeveloped, beyond the facilities that already exist. Please respect this concept and do not under any circumstances flag, cairn, or mark the route in any way. There are many trails on Vancouver Island that are well marked and maintained, and those people following the Backbone are looking for something different.

Please do not light fires, the presence of firepits is unsightly and the collection of firewood places undue pressure on the fragile alpine ecology. If you do encounter firepits left by those unfamiliar with no-trace ethics, take the time to dismantle them. We must not only ensure our own passage leaves no trace but also take positive action in caring for our diminishing wilderness. Carry a lightweight campstove and use it for cooking. Extreme care must be exercised when lighting stoves and smoking. A forest fire can be devastating, and many fires start each year through carelessness.

Pack out what you pack in and please take the time to remove any garbage left by others. Dispose of all waste with due care to the water supply and do not leave toilet paper or other paper products lying around on the ground. Either pack it out, or carry a small tin can which can be used to burn paper waste in a safe manner.

Vancouver Island is one of the wettest places on Earth and water is rarely far away. The purity of the water supply must be preserved by following some simple measures. Never wash dishes with soap, even the touted biodegradable soap, nor leave food scraps in fragile alpine lakes. Pack out food waste and learn to cook only enough to eat.

Don't swim in lakes with your skin covered in insect repellent or sun tan lotions. Remember that the alpine is the source and headwaters for all the rivers on the Island and any pollutants left here will affect the entire watershed downstream. Toilet waste should be buried in cat holes far from any water supply. Human coliform bacteria in water is an increasing global problem. At the moment, water on Forbidden Plateau is the only area along the Backbone where treatment or filtration is required. Please help stop the spread of water borne bacteria and disease by defecating responsibly.

One of the easiest ways to minimize impact is to travel in small groups. Groups of five or less provide enough resources for safety in remote areas while keeping traffic and impact to a minimum.