andrea | 🇨🇦 | wandress

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After nearly a month of doctor ordered (and sometimes ignored) bedrest I was finally cleared to run earlier this week. I figured as a marathoner it would be easy to run the 10km roundtrip to yoga Wednesday morning… boy was I wrong. I woke up Thursday to aches and pains I don’t recall ever experiencing - my body felt foreign to me. So I rested all day and tried again last night, I ran my favourite hill, and of course this morning I was sore, sore and frustrated with myself. Isn’t it crazy how quickly we lose our muscle memory? How after a winter on the snow your first day back hiking is likely one of the hardest of the season(and vice versa)? This photo was the sunrise after I injured my achilles - @ryanclennett and I were supposed to do our last guaranteed summit before the snow came, but I wasn’t able to put weight on my left foot without looking like Bambi. So we shifted gears, borrowed some coffee, made new friends and watched the sun rise over Emerald Lake.

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One of the things I have been working on this year is learning to say no (in the most Canadian of fashions I was raised to believe that politeness trumps(almost) all else). But more specifically, learning to say no so that when an opportunity that makes you want to yell “F yes!” presents it’s self you have the space to do it. I am going to be honest, I have had a disproportionate number of those over the past several months (probably so many that I am out for the rest of my life) - and this trip was one of them. A few days the middle of the week spent in the backcountry with no cell phone reception and some of the most inspiring people… we stayed up way too late talking, watching the moonrise and the stars appear and a few short hours later beat the first sunlight on the mountain. We drank coffee, hiked through the larch trees and eventually took a swim in the lake. I ended the trip with an inflamed achilles, a tetanus shot, eight stitches in my big toe and not a single regret.
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📷 - @bruinalexander

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We woke up at an ungodly hour on this morning to pouring rain, I protested leaving bed but was outvoted. So we drove high into the alpine, parked the car… and didn’t open a door for nearly an hour. It was our last morning in Italy and we were determined to find “the view” - eventually we layered up and made our way along the trail. As the rain began to let up a thick fog rolled in, we kept moving unable to see what was around us. (Very) slowly the fog began to dissipate and we were speechless, one of the most spectacular places I have ever laid eyes on began to reveal its self and we were in the middle of it. This morning I woke up in Nashville to pouring rain worried about a girl in a white dress but yet again... tonight under a starlit sky I watched the union of two of the most beautiful souls I have had the pleasure of meeting. Now is where I say something about rainbows after the rain and clouds with silver linings...but maybe it's all true, the best things require a little faith. ⠀ ⠀
📷 - @michaelmatti

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I thought I had my backcountry wakeup routine down pat… before sunrise I surface from my tent full of weird aches and pains, slip into my swimsuit, brew a cup of coffee and jump in the nearest alpine lake (ruining the reflection for everyone else). Unfortunately this reflection was too beautiful to break, instead I sat in this spot(with swimsuit on and coffee in hand), exchanging welcoming smiles and nods as our crew one by one emerged from their tents. Few words were shared, it was almost as if there was a common understanding that speaking, or even breathing too loudly, would wakeup the lake.

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We spent the day hiking over 40km… well more accurately @ryanclennett and I spent a Saturday evening walking 22km of road and hiking 18km+. This moment was what we were in search of, a place to kick our feet and watch the sunset overlooking one of my favourite places. I love that pieces of the world are a little bit less accessible, I think it makes us appreciate them a little bit more. Yoho National Park has some of the most beautiful, but fragile, ecosystems - there are little signs all over the park outlining the practises of leave no trace, they explain the importance of staying on trail and picking up garbage, the seemingly small actions that cause catastrophic damages to these places… the more time that I spend in the outdoors the more that I want to protect places like this.

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Backpacking isn’t something that came naturally to me - I suffered a spinal cord injury when I was much younger and my “recovery” was more like a series of hurdles set up in my path. Things that doctors told me to avoid or my parents asked me not to try became extremely frustrating very fast. Why can’t I run marathons or spend weeks in the backcountry, all of the other kids are jumping out of airplanes and off of bridges attached to bungee cords… It never seemed “fair” to me. My first time backpacking was with my mom (and a guiding company that carried all of our food and half of our supplies), we spent a few nights at the bottom of the Grand Canyon... my back and neck ached for weeks, but I didn’t want to admit it. The next few times I would go with friends more able bodied than I am and subtly have them carry the bulk of the weight…. over time I carried more and more and my body would recover a little quicker each trip. This past week I went out with a few friends and because of how things worked out I didn’t have anyone to help me. I carried everything I needed (and more) up the side of a mountain, I set up my tent alone, cooked dinner and fell asleep a little proud of myself. The next morning I sliced open my foot and still managed to truck it all back to the parking lot. I know that for most people this would not be a moment of pride but kicking over another hurdle that I thought I would never accomplish is always a good day in my books.
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📷 - @michaelmatti from one of my favorite backpacking trips in Washington earlier this summer.

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Tonight’s prematurely snowy night in the mountains brings me back to my last night backpacking under the (smoky) Washington sky. We got to the ranger station a half hour before it opened and were already number ten in line for permit choice, when our number was called we knew that our chances for our desired campsites were nil. Instead as Michael scoured the map of the North Cascades I asked the ranger for his recommendation. He smiled and not only spilled his favourite campsite in the national park but also a sunset vista that took more than a little but of bushwalking and route finding to obtain. We reached this lookout as the sky began to light up, first a vibrant orange and red and then fading into a soft purple as the sun slipped below the horizon and the moon lit up. This was one of the rare occasions in which the route down was harder than up and our friendship was tested on a few occasions, we made it back to the campsite under the light of the moon and an older couple staying next to us expressed their concern for our late return as they wished us a goodnight. When I think back to all of the things I have been able to experience this summer it’s nights like this that can’t help but to bring me right back, back to the fleeting moments curled up in my sleeping bag reflecting on the day before falling into the kind of deep sleep you only find on cool summer evenings.
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📷 - @michaelmatti

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Would it really be an adventure if I was not found dangling my boots over the edge of a 400-ft cliff? There is something unnerving about the ground in Iceland - it reminds me a lot of the mountains on Kauai… the ground was soft and it crumbled under my boots ever so slightly with every step. I crawled out to the ledge and sat in this spot overlooking the sea cliffs at Vík, I closed my eyes and took a moment to appreciate the warmth of the midday sun shining on my face… and then I opened my eyes and my stomach dropped. It is not the granite, limestone and shale that I am used to, at home I could have sat here all day, enjoyed a picnic and taken a nap but I only lasted a few minutes in this spot feeling the soft earth in my hands. Maybe this means I need to spend more time in places like this that scare me a little extra.

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I was trying to take a photo of my face and then got distracted by a mountain goat just as the shutter clicked. But I think that this is a better representation of an average mountain day with me. We went out to find yellow larch trees and a little bit of snow in the alpine but instead got sidetracked checking out a beautiful alpine lake and almost missed our sunset. I get asked a lot why I don’t show my face in photos and I don’t really have a good reason why - I tend to feel gross and sweaty and my hair is always full of dirt when the views are just right for photo ops(this was no exception a good 18km into our hike). But as such a commonly asked question I figured I would try to show more than the back of my head a little more. So I am curious why you guys would like to see more of as I continue on this journey? ⠀ ⠀
📷 - @ryanclennett

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Another weekend in the books. My first time in the Rockies in over a month and it was…amazing. Filled with peaks lightly dusted in fresh snow, alpine lakes in colours that hardly seem real and larch trees slowly turning yellow in preparation for the season ahead. The sneaky @ryanclennett catching moments of awe between me and my mountains(thanks for being the best hiking buddy and always going along with my crazy plans). I should probably be a little bit more concerned that my left foot can’t current bear any weight… but I am still riding high on this weekend’s adventure (thankfully I have universal health care so fingers crossed my doctor can sort that out tomorrow).

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I took my first step off of the plane last night and instinctively reached for my jacket… it is finally time to accept that summer is over in the Canadian Rockies. Growing up in Alberta, autumn has always been a little bit of an elusive season to me. A quick few days of watching the leaves change colour before the wind and rain and snow quickly whisk them all away and long cold winters set in for the long haul. It was not until moving to the east coast for university that I gained an appreciation for the season. My first semester in Nova Scotia we had a record breaking Indian summer - I remember aimlessly wandering the city streets in the middle of late November nights, sipping on apple cider and talking to new friends about both everything and nothing. There were months of red and orange and yellow leaves holding onto the trees until well after the first snow fall in early December. Something about that year made me appreciate that maybe autumn is just a reminder of how beautiful letting things go can truly be.
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📷 - @michaelmatti during one of my favourite fall road trips.

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Tomorrow I head home. I feel as though I have spent this week inside of a little Icelandic bubble, somehow at arms length from the devastation all of my friends have been experiencing. The Waterton Lakes National Park evacuation. The Columbia River Gorge engulfed in flames. A friend’s wedding cancelled because of the fires surrounding Assiniboine Provincial Park. The heartbreak of St.Martin/ Sint.Marteen where I was playing on the beach a few weeks ago… I sat in the car reading the pain of a dear friend as her childhood home in Anguilla washed away. The countless evacuations on both coasts. I glance over headlines, captions and status updates - the pain is visceral but somehow I just can’t wrap my head around it. These (and so many more) places will never be the same and I don’t know where I am going with this or what I can even begin to say. This photo is from a warm fall day last year in Waterton - the day that this park gifted me some of the best friends I could ask for.

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An Icelandic rain storm last night brought me back to this whirlwind trip to the Italian Dolomites earlier this summer. With only a must-see list a mile-long (and a mere 36 hours to complete it) bad weather was the last thing on our minds. We arrived at Tre Cime di Lavaredo socked in by thick low lying clouds. Within minutes the rain started, sheet after sheet of ice cold water fell from the sky. Seeking shelter under the loading dock of the Rifugio we laughed at our luck until the rain let up and the four of us ran our hearts out to catch the last night of the night along this ridge. The fog would roll in and out revealing only fragments of the alps at any given time leaving our imaginations to piece it all together. I don’t know if it was the severe lack of sleep but every time I think back to that trip the relentless rain and cold are not what come to mind first - it is singing country music at the top of our lungs driving through narrow mountain passes, running around some of the most beautiful ranges on earth in completely the wrong direction and aimlessly wandering old Italian streets in the middle of the day sipping espresso and overdosing on pizza.
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📷 - @michaelmatti

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This summer has been all about saying “yes.” I know, its cliche, but it’s also terrifying. It scared me to leave my corporate job and travel the world, I was unsure about visiting to the Middle East for the first time and when the opportunity presented its self to hop on a plane to Iceland and meet up with @frankframesthings (a complete stranger from the Internet with only one mutual friend)… I had no idea what to expect. But flights were booked and here I am - in a country I had only dreamt of one day visiting, plowing through rivers, watching wild ponies run, hiking up mountains, exploring glaciers and witnessing the aurora every night(so far). I guess it’s true that if you want something you’ve never had you must be willing to try things that you’ve never tried and this adventure is something I could have only imagined in my wildest dreams.
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📷 - @frankframesthings

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Our second day in the Enchantments we set our sights on the Core... after a surprisingly painless maneuver up Aasgard Pass we set our tents up nestled between a series of tarns. I brewed a cup of afternoon coffee and watched as the smoke from a nearby forest fire rolled in and out. With no clouds in the sky, @michaelmatti and I decided to test our luck and take in sunset from the summit of Little Annapurna. A short scramble up revealed the origin of the smoke, a spectacular view of Mount Rainier and endless layers of mountains. As the sun dipped lower in the sky a piercing cold wind picked up and for the first time this year I realized that summer may finally be ending.
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📷 - @michaelmatti

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So lovely was the loneliness of a wild lake… there is something almost magical about an alpine lake at dawn. The stillness that seems to be lost so many places is found in these moments. We broke up our time in the Enchantments by spending our first night at Colchuck Lake, setting up camp as the sun dipped below the mountains, saying our goodbyes in awe of where we would shortly be waking up - as morning light began to creep into the valley one by one tents unzipped and fresh faces slowly emerged, tripods were set up along the lakeside and I sipped on a cup of coffee listening to nothing but the occasional sounds of a shutter releasing. Unable to resist, I snuck in a quick alpine swim before making my way back onto the trail.
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📷 - @michaelmatti

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A few weeks ago I was asked to join some of the most talented, hard working and inspiring friends of mine on a backpacking trip into the Enchantments. My answer was, without hesitation, h yes! It was amazing, filled with early mornings and late nights, middle of the night wake-ups to check in on the stars, camp meals eaten by moonlight after the sun had long since set and conversations peppered with laughter that seemed to flow endlessly. One morning, however, after a windy sleepless night I found myself questioning weather or not I actually enjoyed backpacking - and instead of immediately convincing my self that of course I do… I decided to sit on it for the day. I thought back to the trips spent entirely in soggy tents that leaked just a little, the inevitable bruises on my hips and shoulders… the wind and smoke and blazing heatwaves or freak blizzards in the middle of the Canadian summer. Of course they were not enjoyable, but every one of these trips seemed to be accompanied with a reminder of the memories that were made, the stories that I will be telling for decades and the friendships that can only be built over days of smelly socks and unwashed hair. So, of course I love backpacking, but every once and a while I think its important to question these things.
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📷 - @michaelmatti

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Today was spent with so many of the things that I love… beautiful mountains, good coffee and great friends. After a week at sea I skipped a stopover at home and landed in Washington to meet up with @michaelmatti, we spent the morning testing out my alpine legs (they’re a little rusty but still there - promise) before a multi day backpacking trip tomorrow morning - we then made our way into the city and spent the evening with @jess.wandering drinking coffee and catching up as old friends do. A few weeks ago my mom met a few of my “mountain people” - she pointed out how lucky I am to have friends as great as I do (I was not always this lucky in this department) and as I think about my today and avoid packing my backpack.. I can not help but to appreciate the truth in that statement.
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📷 - @michaelmatti

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I spent my last day with #royalcaribbean on a private island in the Bahamas hanging out with @aimhernandez, @mindz.eye and @sinclairwalker… this morning before the sun rose I organized my backpacking bag (read: woke up in the middle of the night panicked that I forgot everything so I tore everything apart) for a week in northern Washington on the floor of room aboard the #oasisoftheseas. Ever since leaving my “big girl job” I have had the most spontaneous and amazing adventures - jumping on planes and trains and ships so big that they are hard to wrap my head around to places I have never been with strangers who become friends. #comeseek #ad

🚁 - @mindz.eye

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It may not be Everest, Denali or even Mount Logan… but this week I did manage to hike to the tallest peak on the island of Sint Maarten/St.Martin. I don’t think it’s hard to see my love for the alpine, at a modest 1,391’ Peak Paradise doesn’t offer a rugged ridgeline or sheer cliff drops that make my stomach sink. But partnering up with #royalcaribbean to give my body a long overdue break aboard the #oasisoftheseas while still managing to run, hike and swim is exactly the balance that I needed this week! #comeseek #ad

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I have always had a hard time picking a favourite US National Park and today’s stopover with #royalcaribbean to visit the US Virgin Island National Park is not making that decision any easier. Located on the small island of St.John, the National Park boasts 22 hiking trails (including one underwater), winding roads (that you drive on the left side of) and countless white sand beaches leading into some of the clearest water I've ever seen. So now I am curious - what is your favourite national park?
#oasisoftheseas! #comeseek #ad

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I can understand why the French and Dutch decided to stop fighting and share this piece of paradise. The first stop on #royalcaribbean’s #oasisoftheseas knocked two countries off of my bucket list. A morning in St. Martin hiking to the the top of the islands’s tallest mountain providing views of neighbouring islands Anguilla and Gustative… and the afternoon in Sint Maarten on one of the most iconic beaches in the world! #comeseek #ad

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Sometimes everything enigma just right. I had been following @dennisstever on social media for a long time and almost exactly a year ago he sent me a message that he wanted to visit the Canadian Rockies. A few short weeks after that he showed up at my house in the middle of the night (invited, I promise) - and we spent a few days roaming around the mountains - it was not until we were saying goodbye that we realized that the trip was our first time meeting. With our abundance of mutual friends and the fact that we briefly lived in the same city I think we both assumed our paths had crossed dozens of times previously. Fast forward eight months and we are ripping around sand dunes in Dubai catching the sun disappear beneath the horizon and flying down to the Maldives with @abbey.yoga knocking a major item off of all of our bucket lists. I have been reading a lot about the power of today’s total solar eclipse and how special this lining up of the sun, moon and earth is- but it really makes me reflect on all of the things that just seem to line up, the near miss friendships and hilarious meet-cues over the years. ⠀ ⠀
📷 - @dennisstever

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Before heading down to watch the total eclipse with #royalcaribbean I snuck in one last backpacking trip in Kananaskis with @lm_little. We packed up the car on Wednesday afternoon and crushed over 40km, an alpine lake and two summits before running down in time to make it back to the city in time to throw all of my laundry in the machine and re-pack for tomorrow’s adventure aboard the #oasisoftheseas! #comeseek #sponsored

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I have been getting a lot of questions recently in regards to where I will be watching the Total Solar Eclipse. I have never been one to do the expected so instead of viewing it from the mainland...#royalcaribbean invited me onboard the #oasisoftheseas to witness the eclipse from the middle of Saragossa Sea and I can not wait! #comeseek #sponsored

📷 - @dennisstever

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Since being home my days have largely been filled with mountain research - studying topographical maps, searching hiking routes, refreshing the @parks.canada & @alberta_parks advisories pages and (especially with the wildfires) obsessively checking weather reports. It is the less glamorous but often most important part of my alpine adventures and I have over the years grown to love it. I don’t deny that the iconic drive-up spots are spectacular (there are reasons that roads were built to Moraine, Peyto and Louise) - but spending the day on the scree pitch of an unnamed peak with nobody but @ryanclennett and a group of six older mountain men who joke about re-naming mountains and reminisce on their days of multi-pitch climbing and near death adventures… for me, it is worth every minute (or hour… or day…) of tracking over lines on maps and googling places I didn’t even know that I should be dreaming of.
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📷 - @ryanclennett

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There is a special kind of happiness that I have found in sharing my favourite places with people that I love. Last autumn I flew down to Denver for a long weekend and on a whim sent a message to an account that I had been following for years, not expecting a reply at all I was elated when not only did I get a reply but @maisymoon and I met up and went on one of her favourite hikes in RMNP. So last week when she sent me a message that she was on the Canadian side of the Rockies I was finally able to return the favour - and so we spent hours drinking coffee and catching up over a smokey sunset from one of my favourite views in Kananaskis.
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📷 - @ryanclennett

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I truly believe that life is meant for good friends and great adventures. I don’t know how it was the most logical course of action but somehow my trip to Slovenia this summer started with a road trip to Seattle. The flight from Calgary to Seattle is just shy of two hours but instead of doing that we picked three days of climbing mountains and finding alpine lakes in the Canadian Rockies followed by a twelve hour drive and a backpacking trip in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness (oh and I should mention that during all of this I had completely lost my voice and was so sick I thought I was going to die). I don’t know how it took me this long to visit Washington but another trip is already in the books with some of the most wonderful of friends and beautiful alpine lakes to jump in…
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📷 - @michaelmatti

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I took a little bit of a spill last night on my hike. And as I looked down at my shins in yoga this afternoon I could not help but laugh, my body is covered in bumps, bruises, scratches and scars all in various stages of healing. For a second it brought me back to a time in my life when I would have looked at my legs disgusted unable to see past these “flaws”. But instead it makes me smile reminding me of how they got that way. The (maybe too frequent) times that I get lost and turned around and end up bushwalking my way back to civilization, the boulder that scraped my shin as I hugged it for dear life on a ridge I never imagined I would have the ability to traverse or the tumble (and the hundreds of tumbles before) that occurred last night running down from a beautiful sunset hike with some of the most inspiring friends. I could not imagine trading even one of these memories for pristine shinbones, and so it makes me wonder how many things in our lives we see as damaged or flawed will one day evolve into a reminder our most cherished memories.
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📷 - @michaelmatti

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This weekend I ventured out of the busy parks and into my old stomping grounds. As @lucas_really and I sat and ate our lunch, children took turns daring one another to jump off of waterfalls while their parents set up lunch along the riverbed. It makes me sad that this was refreshing, that seeing a place where parents feel comfortable only loosely monitoring their children, where graffiti and garbage aren’t rampant, is abnormal to me.
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To paraphrase @radgirlscollective : We live in a culture where boundless information is at our fingertips; where the desire to explore more and explore everything is very real. But is full disclosure always necessary? As our impact on Instagram grows, I am becoming more aware of how I am – and social media as a whole is – impacting the environment. When a natural location gains a sudden increase in visitors, this poses a threat to the environment, areas known only to wildlife not too long ago may not be set up (ie. garbage cans, maintained trails) to handle the number of people visiting. Often new visitors may not follow the LNT principles, turning the spots that were once pristine into inconvenient garbage dumps.

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