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You no doubt subscribe to the “Leave no trace” philosophy. This philosophy focuses on respect for nature and other hikers so as to not alter the beauty of our sacred Earth. This ethic is already highly developed in the US and Canada.
Follow these 7 Golden Rules to make sure you are a responsible hiker with the deepest respect for the environment:
Planning ahead for your hike may seem obvious. Yet many hikers skip this step. Always check the regulations and features of the places you will be going through. Check the weather forecast and equip yourself according. Take the minimum amount of packaging to minimise your waste. Also try to avoid peak visiting times on certain trails.
It’s always tempting to go ‘off-piste’ where no one has walked before. But that can alter the beauty of virgin territory. Where possible, choose existing trails, rocky slabs, dry grass and snow depending on the season. But watch out for cracks and fissures!
In the visited areas, if you are doing day-hikes, set up your basecamp more than 70 metres away from lakes and rivers to protect the banks. Do not alter the site in any way. If the site is not suitable, choose a different one a few metres further away. Keep your encampment to a minimum. Finally, walk in small groups of 4 to 6 people maximum, in single file, so as not to act as a bulldozer on your path.
In wilderness areas, do not all gather at one point to avoid creating new campsites and avoid recently damaged places to avoid damaging them further.
Leave nothing behind: everything you bring with you must go back with you. This also applies to biodegradable waste. You are not necessarily familiar with the ecosystem around you and an apple tree grown from your apple core is perhaps not the best idea. Always bring back your toilet paper and hygiene products in general. If you are on a day hike and desperately need to ‘go’, the best thing is to dig a latrine to a depth of 20 cm , more than 70 metres from your basecamp and fill and conceal the hole when full.
Finally, water is precious, do not pollute rivers. Empty your water, which must be devoid of chemicals, more than 70 meters from a stream. Use biodegradable soap. There are some very compact, multi-purpose brands for washing dishes and personal care.
However beautiful the flowers you find on the trail, only touch them with your eyes. The same goes for human constructions: preserve our heritage so that our children and our children’s children can enjoy the same landscape. Keep building to a minimum. Land art enthusiasts will have to learn about the environment they are visiting if they want to express their creativity. A pretty, spur-of-the-moment creation may create much long-term damage!
After a long, hard day you deserve a few toasted marshmallows. Discover our special hiking recipes here. Do make sure you keep camp fires to a minimum as much as possible. They leave indelible traces on the landscape! Choose a small camping stove instead. Always check that fires are permitted and use the locations already used by other hikers. Only light a small fire and always disperse cold ashes after putting it out.
Always keep a safe distance from wildlife. Don’t forget that this is their home. And if you find a fawn that seems abandoned, do not interfere. Mothers use their highly developed sense of smell to care for their young; do not weaken this bond by stroking them. Similarly, never feed them, because this alters their behaviour , their ability to survive without humans, putting them at risk from predators. On the subject of predators, control your dog if he’s hiking with you. Finally, store your food properly to avoid attracting animals during the night thereby changing their diet and finding yourself with nothing to eat: it’s a no-win situation. Be even more vigilant during the breeding season or in wintertime.
Finally, you may not be alone when out hiking. Be considerate to other hikers and make everyone’s walk more enjoyable by greeting them with a smile. Give way to hikers having difficulty on trails. If you meet hikers on horseback, stand aside and wait for them to overtake you. In fact, even when perfectly trained, no horse is immune to a fear response that could put its rider and yourself in danger if he kicks out in your direction.
Finally, enjoy the sounds of nature, do not cover them up by talking too loud.
Learn more about the ‘Leave no trace’ philosophy here.
Do you follow the ‘Leave no trace’ philosophy?