1. Plan ahead and prepare
Planning ahead for your hike may seem obvious, yet many hikers skip this step. Always check the regulations and features of any place you might be going through. Check the weather forecast and equip yourself accordingly. Take the minimum amount of packaging to minimize waste. Also try to avoid peak visiting times on certain trails.
2. Stay on designated paths
It’s always tempting to go ‘off-trail’ where no one has walked before. But that can alter the beauty of untouched territory. Where possible, choose existing trails, rocky slabs, dry grass and snow depending on the season. But watch out for cracks and fissures! Always make sure you have the appropriate footwear.
Set up your basecamp more than 230 feet 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 feet further away. Keep your encampment to a minimum. Finally, walk in small groups of 4 to 6 people maximum so you are not like a bulldozer running across the path.
3. Pack in and pack out
Always carry a plastic bag as you hike to keep trash. Don't leave things behind on the trail (wrappers, biscuit/chips packets, food items, etc.). Carry them back with you. You can try to carry a bottle/water bladder and avoid buying bottled water.
4. Leave what you find intact
When you find beautiful flowers 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.
5. Minimize fire impacts
After a long, hard day you deserve a good meal. Make sure you keep campfires to a minimum as much as possible. They leave indelible traces on the landscape! Opt for a small camping stove and always check if fires are permitted. Only light a small fire and always disperse cold ashes after putting it out.
6. Respect wildlife
Always keep a safe distance from wildlife. Don’t forget that this is their home. And if you see stray wildlife, avoiding interacting with them. Their mothers can retrieve them with their highly developed sense of smell; if we touch them, our scent left on their bodies may complicate retrieval. Similarly, never feed them, because this alters their behavioral patterns and their ability to survive independently, putting them at risk from predators. Control your dog if they are hiking with you. Finally, store your food properly to avoid attracting animals and losing your food supply: it’s a no-win situation.
7. Be considerate to other users
You may not be alone when hiking. Be considerate to other hikers and make everyone’s walk more enjoyable by greeting them with a smile. Give way to hikers with a faster pace on trails.
Finally, enjoy the sounds of nature, and be mindful of keeping your volume down.