Hiking is one of the greatest and most liberating things you can do. It is an escape to a beautiful environment that is always out there and waiting to be explored. It is important to embrace nature and leave it behind just as beautiful as we found it. As a hiker, you can make simple choices in order to lessen your negative impact on the environment. Each one of these choices makes only a small difference, but together we can have a huge impact. Whether you are an experienced hiker or beginner, with these 10 simple tips, you will be able to hike more responsible.
1. Plan carefully
Planning and preparation is a very important part of being responsible. Make sure to know the rules and regulations of the area you are going to and make sure you have the right gear with you. When you are going higher up in the mountains, you need more gear. Like climbing gear or appropriate clothing. When buying this, you can choose to buy from a more sustainable manufacturer. Responsible hiking already starts before you actually start hiking.
2. Use of marked hiking trails
Marked hiking trails are there for a reason. Stick to the path to ensure animal habitat and nesting fauna remain undisturbed. It is also good to stay on the paths, because they are designed to offer a path of least resistance and the best route to showcase the landscapes and amazing views. It is important not to mark the trails in order not to damage the trees.
3. Do not take anything
The nature is beautiful and we should leave what we find. Resist the urge to collect rocks, shells, plants, or anything else on the trail. Leave those for the next hikers to enjoy.
4. Do not mess with the wildlife
As exciting as it can be to see a new critter on the trail, remember that these guys are not used to seeing us either. Do not frighten them and do not feed them. Feeding animals makes them habituated to and reliant on humans, what can lead to attacks. Keep a respectful distance from wildlife. If you are close enough to attract an animal’s attention, you are too close.
If you use a Drone, you must be respectful of wildlife and how this stresses them out. If you fly your drone near an animal and it moves, you are affecting it’s pattern. You are stressing it out, causing it to leave its desired location and possibly expending energy which could harm them. Please do not do this.
5. Bring a (garbage) bag
Bring along a small bag and pick up any trash you spot along your hike. Have a friendly competition to see who can clean up the most waste. Do not bury your trash. Animals will dig it up or it will become exposed later on for someone else to find. Best is to bring the bag with you towards home.
6. Light fires responsibly
Unless you are in a campsite, fires of any kind are not recommended. Always take care when lighting a fire. Make sure the fire is extinguished before you continue your hike in order to occur an escalation into a bushfire or wildfire. Please pay attention to all fire danger warnings.
7. Support the locals
If you need a guide or porter, it is nice if you can hire a local one. The local people usually know the trails and turns by heart and have a good knowledge about the specific area. Hiring locals also ensures the money you spend go directly back into the community and helps preserve the park or track.
8. Do not bring toilet paper
In case you decide to use toilet paper when you go into the forest for a dump run, make sure you do not leave it behind in the nature. Bring it with you in your garbage bag or burn it. Personally, I would say try to liberate yourself from toilet paper and use some natural materials instead. You can use for instance grass, stones or snow to clean yourself. Another way is to use, as many people do, your left hand and some water. Do not forget to clean your hands afterwards.
9. Bring a reusable water bottle
Leave the plastic bottle at home and bring a reusable one with you. You can fill this one continuously with fresh water. Drink up big at each water source and fill up at every available water source. Make sure the water moves and it is clean to drink. There are also reusable bottles with a filter in it. They are a great way to make sure you do not get ill.
10. Bring eco-friendly sunscreen and bug spray
Sunscreens can be extremely harsh on the planet, releasing chemicals that threaten the surrounding environment. If you want to hike more responsible, you can choose to bring some eco-friendly sunscreen and bug spray from a natural brand with you.
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