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It's time to be a sustainable hiker

  • Nov 25, 2018

The chance is fairly high that if you love hiking and the great outdoors, you are equally passionate about conservation. Many hikers care for the trails, try to minimize waste and are respectful of the spaces through which they trek. Others, well, not so much. There are some individuals who leave waste, use and throw away plastic bottles and are generally inconsiderate of the trail and of their fellow hikers. Everyone can try to be more mindful of themselves, their resources and of one another. Here's how you can start incorporating sustainable practices into your hiking trips:

Remember the "Rs" of the trail
Whether you roll it or not, the American Hiking Society wants you to understand the importance of the humble letter "r" to better remember how to be sustainable as you trek. In other words, each of its tips to care for nature and be more aware of what you consume begins with this letter: Hikers are expected to recycle as much as possible, reconsider how much they use resources, and repair gear to make it last longer, rather than throwing it away. Buying higher-quality hiking equipment like the solar powered PRW3510Y-8 also helps to reduce unnecessary purchases because if something is well made, it is more likely to be sturdy and reliable. Finally, the Society asks that hikers rethink how they use old items and try to repurpose them where possible. The example it presented was to use an old CD as a signaling mirror, but the possibilities are endless.

Keep the trail clean
Anyone who heads out into the wild should be sure to clean up after themselves and their animals. This means picking up any mess, removing dog and human waste, ensuring that the ground is not damaged by a campfire or tents and generally leaving the place as they found it for others to enjoy. Those interested in taking their efforts a step further may want to volunteer with a conservation group to help clear the trails from debris and plant life on a seasonal basis. This can also be a great way to meet like-minded hikers. 

The National Park Service explained that sustainability is the practice of leaving areas as untouched as possible for future generations to enjoy. In other words, imagine your grandchildren go hiking on the same trail as you, many years down the line. Wouldn't you want them to experience it the same way you do? Act as if you are saving the land for young people when you go out on your next hike.

Always be mindful
Treat the trail and the wilderness as you want to be treated, and be mindful of where you are. Breathe Travel said hikers should stay on marked paths when they venture out to avoid damaging wildlife and plants. The paths are there for many reasons: to help you see and experience nature in a safe manner, but also to protect the environment. To that end, keep your food to yourself. That little cute chipmunk is not necessarily accustomed to human food, so be sure to pick up anything you drop. Don't leave edibles out specifically to attract animals. Not only can the furry creatures get sick, but there may be bears in the area of which you are unaware, and no one wants to call the park rangers because of an attack. And finally, the source added, be careful with your fires, if you choose to camp and cook. You don't want to damage the ground, and it is certainly not a good idea for a stray spark to fly into the woods and ruin the ecosystem permanently.

Hiking is a soul-lifting experience, so why not give back to Mother Nature in thanks for all it gives you out on the trail? Pay attention to how and what you are using to ensure that future outdoors enthusiasts can enjoy the same experiences for years to come.

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