Wilderness Expert Explains “Leave No Trace” Skills to Local Dog Walkers

Maggie Baker, Art Director

Whitman students are going above and beyond to teach wilderness skills in the Walla Walla community.

“I go for walks around Walla Walla when I’m not backpacking in the Cascades, so, I guess I come out here occasionally,” says Wren Foley, a first-year and future Tamarac resident. In her spare time, Wren enjoys sending 5.9 leads, paddling class IVs, and shredding the gnar.

“Sure, I’d describe myself as outdoorsy. I don’t even feel, like, relevant unless I’m on the river, at the crag or on the slopes. Frankly, my purpose in life is to go outside and talk about my experiences as much as possible so that other people can learn from what I’ve done and be inspired themselves.”

Foley, born and raised in western Mercer Island, WA, really wants to share the vast wilderness knowledge she has acquired in the past seven months at Whitman with others. She has started teaching dog walkers at Bennington Lake the virtues of Leave No Trace hiking. Foley strategically places herself in the middle of the trail, forcing recreationalists to pause their morning stroll and listen to her quick ten-minute lecture.

“I believe that this knowledge that I learned on my sea kayaking scramble can benefit everyone, and I feel that I am really making a difference.” While some are bothered by her insistence that they bury their dogs’ feces during a thirty-minute walk, Foley believes she is making headway. “I don’t think it is too much to ask for pet owners to carry their dogs through muddy areas and disperse themselves on the trail to minimize bark chip erosion.”

When asked about their impact on Whittie-Walla Walla relations, Foley asserted that her efforts will definitely have a positive long term impact, even though she has yet to reach many dog owners who remain fiercely invested in their tiny, sweater-wearing canine companions.