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Take only pictures...

"Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints." - Anonymous?

"When in nature, don't be a dick." - Emerson Kaye, 1999

I took this panoramic photo during my 2017 Foto Safari from Toadstool Geological Park and Campground. When I make these photo journeys, my mantra is, "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints." I was curious about when that phrase came to be.

Composite photo of Toadstool Geological Park
Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints

The quote's origin is rooted in mystery. Some have suggested it was to Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement in 1907, "Leave no trace." John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club in 1892, also has been given a claim to it. However, I didn't find any direct evidence for either of them.

I did find a quote by Chief Seattle, who made a speech in the mid-1850s that included the phrase, "Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints." However, the original copy of the address he gave in his native language was lost. A translation was done at the time, but it was thought lost in the Great Seattle Fire in 1889. The remaining translations are suspect.

In 1952 the Baltimore Grotto, a cave exploring club, adopted the motto, "Take nothing but Pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time." It was probably to encourage others to respect the caves and pick up after themselves. So perhaps then it became part of the lexicon of environmental awareness.

Regardless of its origins, the meaning has endured and been adopted in many local and national parks. Traveling as much as I do, I make efforts to honor the idea. Sometimes I wish others would remember it, especially when I see a discarded water bottle lying along my path. (sigh)

Settings - ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/800s

Equipment - Nikon D610, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

Four photos merged to create the panoramic and edited for social media.

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