If you’re wondering what responsible camping looks like, what trail etiquette is, or just how to be better while you’re in nature, you’ve come to the right post!
For many of us, our time outdoors is a time for solace, healing, and refreshment. We pursue a connection with Mother Earth to heal our souls and prepare us for the next hurdle of life. We care about the spaces we inhabit and want to protect them.
We go into nature with the best of intentions.
At the same time, we recognize that every human being lives with blind spots in the way we interact with the rest of creation. Whether it’s in our relationships with other people or the way we consume the earth’s resources, we have room to grow. If we act humbly, we can learn from each other and become better as we engage with Nature.
Let’s explore 5 ways to grow in the way we engage with nature. See if you can find your blind spot to improve!
Better Your Spaces
It’s human nature to want to leave others’ mistakes alone and let them bear the consequences for them. We don’t usually feel the need to right others’ wrongs… that should be on them!
But when it comes to the ways other people may leave their marks on nature, WE will bear the consequences alongside them. It’s in OUR best interest to minimize the impact of others if we can. That’s why we should always aspire to leave our camp and recreational sites BETTER than we found them… not just pick up our own messes.
Minimize Campfire Impact
Many campers have adopted the practice of using camp stoves to cook instead of building a fire. You can find everything from full-size griddles for car camping to lightweight backpacking stoves. Using these for cooking means you may not even need to build a fire at all!
But if camping without a campfire seems pointless to you (we understand!), there are steps you can take to make sure your fire makes the least amount of impact on the earth as possible.
Check out this resource from Leave No Trace on how to enjoy a fire without leaving a scar!
As activity increases in the habitats of wildlife, they’ve grown desensitized to the presence of humans. That’s led to an increase in dangerous interactions. Some campgrounds have even been closed for a time! In order to avoid these negative impacts, it’s important to respect wildlife and their habitats.
Proper food storage is one important step to become educate yourself on.
- Leaving scraps around your site lures wildlife in.
- Not using air-tight storage like a bear canister lures wildlife in.
- Leaving empty food containers behind when you leave camp lures wildlife in.
Leaving no sign of your presence is important to help maintain proper boundaries between humans and wildlife!
If you’re new to the enriching adventure of hitting the trail, you may be unaware of trail etiquette! Believe it or not, multi-use trails have their own set of non-posted rules. Here’s a brief rundown of what others expect of you when you’re using these natural spaces.
- On a narrow trail, hikers headed downhill step aside for uphill hikers to pass.
- Hikers yield to equestrians headed in either direction.
- Cyclists yield to both equestrians and hikers.
- Leash rules are to be followed at all times. Owners of reactive dogs should be able to use trails and trust others to follow the rules!
- Music may be what YOU want, but others may prefer silence. Consider using a single earbud so you can enjoy your tunes and also stay aware of your surroundings.
Use Durable Surfaces
It’s ever-present in our minds that we want to be able to CONTINUE enjoying our time in nature for years to come. Because of that desire, we are very aware of the impact we have on the surface we travel over.
When setting up camp or enjoying trails, using durable surfaces is important to minimize our impact on the Nature spaces we love. Sand, gravel, and rock are excellent surfaces to utilize that won’t show signs of our presence. If we have to pass over foliage, we want to take into consideration the sturdiness of the vegetation and what our impact will be. Leave No Trace has an excellent post about this you can read HERE.
Preserving the beauty of Nature for future generations is a job that falls on the shoulders of everyone who enjoys it today! By working together we can mitigate the impact of our presence and let our children’s children’s children experience Nature the way we do.