APRIL 28, 2021
Whether you’re spending days in the back country or headed out on a quick hike after work- each of us play a vital role in protecting Mother Nature. In order to help minimize our impact on plant life, animals, other people and ecosystems it’s important to understand some basic outdoor ethics.
PLAN AHEAD & PREPARE
Leave no Trace starts before you hit the trail!
Planning ahead and being prepared can help reduce the risk of having to making poor decisions on your adventure that could not only effect the environment, but your safety!
Here are some helpful tips:
1. Be prepared for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies by always packing the hiking essentials (first aid kit, knife, water, food, layers, rain jacket, headlamp, sun protection, etc.)
2. Visit in small groups when possible and at low traffic times.
3. Understand the ability level of your group and set realistic and time considerate goals.
4. Always carry tools for navigation (map, compass, gps, etc.) and plan out your route before you start the hike.
5. Check for any necessary permits and/or route closures.
6. Check if fur babies are welcome.
7. Research what kind of dangerous wildlife live in the area (bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, etc.) and how to safety hike in their neighborhoods .
8. Look up local, state and federal guidelines for visiting parks and communities during COVID-19. Visiting during the pandemic can be damaging to small/ isolated communities that have limited resources!
9. Let someone know where you’ll be traveling by leaving a copy of your general plan with a friend/family member.
TRAVEL & CAMP ON DURABLE SURFACES
Before walking across the fragile dessert or through the wildflowers to get a better angle for your instagram post, make sure you’re aware of the impact you’ll have on the earth you trample over.
Trails are designed with intention and concentrating travel on trails greatly reduces the way we scar the landscape. Yes this means walking through the mud puddle in the middle of the trail instead of trying to walk around it.
Sometimes however, we need to go off trail to find a bathroom or camping site, so lets talk about how:
- Vegetation is vulnerable so stick to durable surfaces, aka surfaces that can handle the traffic, such as rocks, sand, gravel, snow and ice.
- Reduce the frequency of travel. If you’re in a group, spread out. One person walking through the grass has a lot less impact than five.
If you’re planning to stay over night in the nature, choosing your campsite responsibly can be just as important.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Camp 200ft away from water sources
- When possible camp in established sites
- Avoid creating a camping spot by cutting back plant life or moving excessive dirt/stone. When you leave it should look like you were never there!- If you’re camping in a group, stay together in high traffic areas and spread out in remote areas.
DISPOSE OF WASTE PROPERLY
Can’t do a whole leave no trace blog without talking about pooping in the woods!
For added fun take a shot every time I say poop! (*just kidding don’t actually do that #alcoholpoisoning)
No one wants poop in their water source, and if you have had the absolute displeasure of finding someone’s toilet behind a rock you know how nasty humans can be.
In most places burying your poo is the way to go, however some places do require a wag bag to pack it out (but you already know this because you planned ahead & prepared!)
So you have to poop in the woods?
1. Choose your sneaky poop spot- preferably somewhere people are unlikely to walk or camp
2. Make sure you’re about 200ft or 70 paces away from all water sources, trails and camps.
3. Dig yourself a nice hole- 6 to 8 inches deep and 4-6 inches wide (seems big but trust me, your aim isn’t as good as you think It is)
4. Do your thing- if you’re using TP be sure use plain, white, non-perfumed brands. Earth Friendly TP can easily be buried in the hole, but if you’re somewhere like the desert- packing it out is ideal (Ladies, the only proper way to dispose of tampons/pads in the wild is to pack it out)
5. Cover that sh** up like the cool cat you are.
Now that you are a back country pooping professional, lets talk about some other ways to dispose of waste properly:
1. #packitinpackitout.- bring a trash bag, not only for your trash but for trash you see on your hike!
2. Repackage food to avoid micro trash on trail (reusable ziplocks are the beesknees)
3. After a delish backpacking meal, be sure to strain out any food particles and dispose in the same way you do other waste.
LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND
True story... I told my mom that I wanted the bridesmaids at our wedding to carry potted plants down the isle because I think bouquets are overrated. She was not a fan of that idea.
Unpopular opinion, but I’d rather see flowers blooming from the earth, than cut from the source just to make our wedding pretty for a day...
So, why am I telling you about our weird wedding ideas? Because leaving nature just as it is when we visit is a game changer.
When you see that beautiful flower, sparkly rock or even some rad fall leaves... instead of picking them up and taking them home with you we invite you to pause, appreciate the beauty and leave things exactly as they are so someone else can appreciate the beauty too!
We’re sure you’ve heard it a million times...
“Take only pictures, leave only footprints”
But what exactly does that mean?
👣Minimize site alterations: Good campsites are found, not made...if you move something to put your tent down, put it back when you leave.
👣Avoid damaging live trees and plants: That heart carving with your initials you think will look cute and be romantic, isn’t. The wildflowers that are just so beautiful you want to pick a bouquet, look more beautiful rooted in the earth. Keep nature wild by leaving things just a they are!
👣Leave natural objects and cultural artifacts: In most protected places its illegal to move or take items- including rocks. Cultural artifacts in particular are protected by Archeological Resources Protection Act. It’s also wildly inappropriate to carve into sandstone (or any rock for that matter). The petroglyphs and pictographs that we often visit in wonderment today were a way to communicate and record in the past.
If you’re feeling the urge to leave your name somewhere take a picture, use the pen feature on your phone and draw your heart out!
MINIMIZE CAMPFIRE IMPACT
Who doesn’t love a good campfire?
That meditative cracking sound, dancing flames you could stare at all night, maybe some yummy s’mores... but before you go gather stones and dig a pit yourself, ask yourself these questions:
🔥 Are campfires allowed in the area?
🔥 Is there an establish fire ring?
🔥 Is wind a concern?
🔥 Is firewood available? (Follow the 4Ds: dead, down, dinky and distant)
🔥 Do you have sufficient water to put it out?
🔥 Are you staying nearby?If you answered no to any of these questions, make Smokey the Bear proud and consider an alternative:
🔦 Use a flashlight
🧥 Layer up
🥘 Cook on a camp stove (check out the Eureka SPRK+ butane camp stove)
Remember, never leave a fire unattended!
Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear, fuzzy wuzzy had no hair, fuzzy wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy was he?
We don’t know how fuzzy a bear is and you can bet your ass we aren’t going to get close enough to find out, and neither should you!
As much as we want to take home all of the cute critters and cuddle them (by we, we mean Erica), it is important to keep your distance. We are visitors in their home and being respectful of their space is not only for your safety but is crucial to maintaining their life balance!
Social Distance with wildlife 101:
1. Hold your arm out in front of you
2. Give that cutie frolicking in the field a thumbs up
3. Wink (aka close one eye)
4. Play now you see me now you don’t (try to cover the animal completely with your thumb)If you can’t make them disappear, back up!
5. As fun as it may be to leave little critters a treat, don’t! Not only can human foods / foods not in their natural diet cause health problems like obesity and lack of proper nutrients, but when animals habituate to humans they can become aggressive and require relocation/euthanasia. Proper food storage, such as bear boxes, and practicing #packitinpackitout can help these animals stay happy and healthy!
BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHER VISITORS
You’re walking through Grand Teton National Park, a babbling brook to your left and as your gaze slowly rises you can see the magnetic peaks people travel from all over the world to visit. Birds are chirping, the sun is shining...
and WAP by Cardi B is playing in the background.
Other visitors can have a massive impact on our experiences when we visit nature.
Here are some tips to consider as you venture outdoors:🥾
Uphill travel has the right of way (find a place to step to the side and let them pass).Stock also have the right of way (uphill and down)
🚴🏽Communicate with others on trail (bikers this one is for you, let us know where you’re at and where you’re passing)
📻WAP by Cardi B is not a good soundtrack for your hike. Leave the speaker at home! If you’re adamant about listening to tunes on trail, keep one earbud out and the volume low enough that you can hear not only others on trail, but animals!
LAST, BUT NOT LEAST...
Get educated on the land you’re visiting. Although our national parks are protected by the government, this land was stolen. Loving National parks means advocating for the original stewards of this land and it’s important to know the cultural impact our presence has on these places and people.
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”