As you take in the great outdoors in an adventurous hike, it’s easy to get lost in nature and or run into unintended predicaments, if you don’t have the know-how. And, if you go into the wilderness with only book knowledge, you’ll soon know that it’s not enough, especially when it comes to being mindful and sustainable to the wildlife and other hikers around you.
So, before you set off on your next (or first) hiking adventure, here are eight ways to be respectful and sustainable on the trails.
- Prepare. Hike.
“Before you go hiking – or even head out the door – you have to have a plan in place,” says John Gebert, a travel writer at Academized and Simple Grad. “When you’re adequately prepared, then you’re less likely to run into problems once you hit the hiking trail.”
In your planning and prepping stage, you need to:
- Research your hiking destination.
- Check for weather updates.
- Learn about regulations and other concerns.
- Let someone know where you’re going, if you plan to hike alone.
- Schedule a good time for your trip.
- Pack and repack food to minimize waste.
- Trails Are There For A Reason
Whatever you do: stay on the trail.
The vegetation that grows on mountains and hills is unique and fragile. This can be due to:
- High elevation
- Short growing seasons, AND
- Extreme weather
Hiking trails are there to make the experience safer for you and other hikers. By staying on the designated trails, not only are you protecting the vegetation (especially those that take long to mature), but you’re also protecting yourself from things that can scratch you, or make you itch. Even when tempted to take a shortcut, don’t do it.
- Let Faster Hikers Pass By You
Sometimes, you have to look at hiking on a trail like driving on the road. If faster hikers are coming your way, let them pass. Faster hikers need a faster pace, because they might hiking a longer distance. However, if you’re the speedier one, announce yourself early, and do so in a way that it doesn’t frighten the hiker ahead.
- Properly Throw Away Trash
Just like in public, you have to throw away any trash whenever you hike. Leaving waste behind will harm the habitat, water, wildlife, and even other people.
As a hiker, you are responsible for cleaning up and inspecting your campsites and rest area for any trash or spilled food. The objective is to leave the site better than when you found it, so that the next person can have a good-looking place to hike and camp.
- Yield To Uphill Hikers (As If They Were Cars)
As you let faster hikers pass you by, you also need to yield to uphill hikers. Since uphill hikers have the right of way, as you head back down from a hike, you have to step aside for them. Also, keep in mind that horses have the right of way; so, move calmly off the trail, so that you don’t spook the horse.
- Keep Quiet
Wildlife can be peaceful to look at; so, let’s keep it that way. By maintaining a quiet presence as you hike, not only are you be courteous to wildlife, but you’re also letting other hikers and visitors enjoy this peace.
- Never Feed Wild Animals
As much as you want to feed a stray animal a piece of your food, you can’t. In fact, feeding wild animals “people” food can cause them serious health problems, and even make them too comfortable around humans. Having animals panhandle for food eventually turns into a nuisance, or even a safety risk.
- Keep Dogs On Leashes
“Dogs can be great companions to go hiking with,” says Gabriel Claxton, a business blogger at Australian reviewer and OX Essays. “However, some people, and even horses and other wildlife, might be startled whenever they see a loose or unrestrained dog on the hiking trail. In fact, the law requires dogs to be leashed within wilderness areas like hiking trails.”
Therefore, it’s best to keep your furry companion leashed to avoid any problems with other hikers and wildlife. Also, don’t forget to bring plenty of doggie bags, whenever nature calls them.
As you read through these eight steps, you’ll soon be ready to take on a hiking expedition, while minding nature and your fellow hikers. Keep in mind that you’re both a visitor and a caretaker, as you take in the natural beauty that awaits you on the hiking trails.