Thursday, June 30

No Trace Left Behind

It was a dark and stormy night, and there was a murderer among us. There was also an angel saving townsfolk from death and a sheriff hot on the heels of the perpetrator. Yes, we were playing the game "Mafia" after we finished our rigorous first day hike during our overnight trip. Our trip started with a ride on the Palm Springs tramway; a lift high up in the air that showed us around the mountains we would be on and brought us to the beginning of our hike. Some of us had to face our fears of wildlife and the hike itself during this section of our trip, but we all did so valiantly and made it all the way to the top and a fire service station, more than eight thousand feet above sea level in the San Jacinto mountains.

A special feature of the San Jacinto mountains is that they are open to all. The beautiful scenery that we were able to be in sees many hikers every day, not just day hikers, but also overnighters like us. Before we started on our two day experience, we were informed on the importance of being in nature without disturbing it. The Leave No Trace movement is a conservation movement dedicated to teaching people how to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors responsibly. Following this ethic, we did several important things to keep the natural environment as pristine as possible so that others could enjoy it without seeing human impact. We stuck to the trails in order to not destroy nature, packed out all the trash we brought in, left everything we found (other than the plant samples we took), and respected the wildlife from safe distances.

Following these rules didn't hinder our experience in the slightest, and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We slept under the stars, played games, saw awesome views, and spotted some deer. And, of course, we collected plants for the research.

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