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Or how to explore the mountains around us while respecting the environment?
Let's get back to the basics of eco-responsible hiking: respect for the natural environment in which we operate.
Here, we’ll see how to hike with the lowest possible impact on the fauna, flora and delightful landscapes we want to explore.
The following advice is sometimes out of the ordinary, but it aims to get us to rethink what we do, make it healthier for us, our bodies, our mountains and our planet.
Responsible hiking is a way to enjoy a really meaningful experience: imagination and adapting our route, including the choice of our equipment and how we get to the mountains...
It's a whole issue we need to (re)think about to preserve our hobby and our environment.
Our first tip for responsible hiking is to hike locally - or at least, as locally as possible.
Even though not all of us are lucky enough to live at the foot of a mountain range, let's think about the scale of our own region before considering climbing summits all over the world.
Hiking as such is surely one of the least CO2-emitting sports, but it’s the modes of transport used to get to the mountains that cause energy consumption.
It’s high time for us to explore the mountains which are close to home, to continue enjoying the mountains and hills we’ve already discovered during our childhood or do the tougher variant of a wonderful walk already hiked last year - but this time paying more attention to the details of the landscape.
There are surely so many things that we haven’t already seen.
The phenomenon of micro-adventure lends itself well to this, and many guides already exist to rethink hiking near home.
Don’t hesitate to get up early, or leave late, in order to rediscover classics but with the slanting light of a sunrise or sunset.
Just remember your headlamp!
There are so many adventurous, fun and eco-friendly ways to travel.
A long weekend in a massif served by the train?
A trip with the whole family and the car fully loaded?
Or find a car-sharing scheme to go on an adventure?
It will leave even more clean air for the marmots.
Did you know?
Global warming is twice as strong in mountainous regions, where temperatures are rising twice as much as in the plains.
Reducing our energy consumption to reduce our carbon footprint is therefore an excellent way to help preserve natural spaces all over the world and help biodiversity to flourish.
Of course, these are actions which are less visible directly, but which in the long term will help preserve our playgrounds and the magnificent mountain landscapes.
Don’t forget that it’s possible to hire our equipment, an ideal solution for occasional hikers, which in addition means we can take advantage of the latest innovations.
In the event of a tear or breakage, we can also attempt a home or workshop repair before considering getting rid of it.
The life of our favourite products can often be extended, and it's a nice approach to adopt when rethinking your consumption.
Whether for hiking or camping, there are "rules" or at least good mountain practices.
Whether it’s the tolerated or prohibited presence of our pet dogs or bans on collecting flowers, we must always respect the instructions given by the signs at the start of the routes.
Remember to get information when planning your routes, because these rules may vary from one mountain area to another and depending on whether we intend to travel through nature reserves, national parks or Natura 2000 areas.
Whatever the case, all these measures are in place to limit our impact on the flora and fauna we come to visit.
In many countries, permits and taxes are required from people wishing to go into the mountains.
In the Alps and Europe, access to the mountains is very often unlimited and free.
Responsible hiking is one way to retain this privileged access.
"Leave no trace” - let’s leave no trace.
This philosophy is so easy to follow when hiking that we sometimes forget it.
Here’s a little reminder of the simple actions to take in the mountains:
Taking our waste back down with us is the first rule, during a picnic, a night in a tent, or even when we’re in a refuge, it’s always greatly appreciated.
The shelters that are very busy in the summer don’t have the means to get rid of their waste, and anything that isn’t brought back down on human backs will be disposed of using a helicopter, which brings its share of nuisance to the local fauna.
For smokers, make sure you always have a small pocket ashtray with you for your butts :).
What about any waste left by other less considerate hikers?
This is the perfect opportunity to do the right thing by picking them up too.
Other more ephemeral “traces” can also disturb the natural environment that we pass through:let's try to stay on the paths to avoid crushing rare insects or flowers on the edge of the paths.
It’s also important not to cut the corners in the path so as not to increase soil erosion during severe mountain storms.
It’s often very tempting to take the most direct route, especially on the descent, but this favours the flow of water, which can then damage the paths and make them impassable.
Let's be respectful of birdsong by leaving our portable speakers at home, which means we’ll have more chance of seeing a beautiful chamois a hundred metres away among the scree above our heads before it dashes off into hiding.
The landscape is wonderful? Let's try to capture it for posterity with a camera rather than wanting to launch a drone that will disturb all the animals in the area and annoy other hikers.
The mountain landscapes are so beautiful and complex that it’s nice to take the time for silent breaks to be able to appreciate all the details and shades of colour.
Here at Quechua, we want to get even more hikers involved to protect our playground.
The principle is simple: every time you go hiking, whether close to home or on the other side of the world, think “Hike Up, Pick Up”, or in other words: Hike Up, Pick Up.
Before setting off, when packing your hiking backpack, remember to add a small bag, gloves and hydroalcoholic gel so you can pick up any rubbish you encounter en route!
Feel free to share your best responsible hikes with us on social networks using #quechua or #hikeuppickup.
Tag your friends or family to encourage them to follow your initiative on their next hikes, or go with them to show them the way!