This summer, many of us are adventuring further and further into our country’s beautiful landscape to experience nature and get outside. With this comes a responsibility to take care of the land we call our home, so it can be shared and enjoyed by others after us.
The 7 key principles of the Leave No Trace hiking guide are made to protect the environment and preserve the natural landscape despite human traffic. The Leave No Trace Canadian guide is a national non-profit organization that formulated these principles to build awareness, appreciation and respect for our country’s wild spaces.
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of a spontaneous trip to the outdoors, it’s vital to plan ahead and prepare for the day properly. For both your safety and the environment, you should research the trail and weather conditions, bring adequate safety equipment, and always tell a friend your expected itinerary and timing.
Planning ahead also allows you to prepare adequate snacks and gear that will make your experience much more enjoyable.
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Durable surfaces like gravel or rock are better for travel and camping. This prevents damage to naturally occurring wildlife in alpine meadows and other more fragile landscapes.
Always stay on the designated trail if possible to avoid unwanted damage to these species and camp far enough away from water sources to maintain its purity.
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
Always, always, always pack out the food you bring. Even compostable items like an apple core or orange peel can take months to decompose and often attract wildlife to the area. Garbage, human waste, soap, and food scraps can pollute a nearby water source and are negatively impactful on the environment.
4. Leave What You Find
As beautiful as the alpine flowers or other elements of your visit to the outdoors may be, each of the species you encounter are meant to be left alone. Let those after you experience the same joy and astonishment and leave what you find on the trail.
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
Before even considering a campfire, always be aware of the campfire regulations in your area. In places of high-risk for wildfires, even a few stray sparks can set kms of forest ablaze. Always plan to use a backcountry stove instead of cooking over a fire if possible.
If it’s safe to and you do make a fire, find a pre-existing fire to minimize damage, keep it small and contained and be sure it is out completely after you’re finished.
6. Respect Wildlife
Never feed or approach an animal outdoors. Be mindful that it is you that is visiting their territory and for their safety and yours, maintain distance. It is incredibly important that when camping, you store your food safety in the bear/cougar canister or hang it in a tree a safe distance away from your campsite.
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Lastly, always use common sense, respect, and etiquette to others in the outdoors. Everyone is there for the same reason – to experience the beauty and joy of nature. Be respectful of other by not playing loud music or being overtly loud or obnoxious.
Just be considerate of those around you and everyone can have a good time. By following these principles, we can all continue to enjoy our country’s incredible landscapes and meet some cool people along the way.