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Going Hiking? Here’s Your Handy Guide To A Fun And Sustainable Hike!

Hiking is fun if you love nature. However, if you want to avoid harming the surrounding wildlife while hiking, here are 11 tips to help you!

Hiking is fun if you love nature. However, if you want to avoid harming the surrounding wildlife while hiking, here are 11 tips to help you!

Did you know hiking is among the top five of the world’s most popular outdoor recreational activities? With the increasing awareness about environmental issues and more people embracing a healthy lifestyle, it is no wonder, people are turning to hiking!

However, do you know that there is a considerable correlation between such recreational activities and the degradation of the environment? Many times, by trying to be close to nature we inadvertently end up hurting it.

If you are thinking of immersing yourself in Mother Nature, but don’t want to harm her, here are some tips that can be followed for a pro-nature hike 

While hiking leave no trace

Nature is beautiful as it is, we do not need to leave or collect anything to enhance the beauty. So, it is particularly important to ensure that we did not change anything along the journey.

Whatever you have brought along for the hike, make sure you have packed it back and not left it around as litter. Be it containers for food and water, camping equipment, or even a pocket knife.

It is an eco-conscious hike if no one could figure out that you were there after you left. Avoid disposing things that dirty the pristine trail or campsite, even if biodegradable.

If you must, designate a spot, away from water sources, being mindful of the way the slopes are and the wind blows. For your daily routine, it is advised to dig a hole before relieving yourself and to cover it with soil and leaves once done.

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Pro Tip: Repurpose snack packets and containers as wrappers for garbage. And repurpose plastic water bottles as containers to collect things like floss, old batteries, waste items that need to be in sealed containers.

 Stay on the trail

It is an exhilarating feeling to take a detour and explore new trails, but have you ever thought of how it affects nature? When you invent a new route or path to travel, it affects the growth of the vegetation on the ground.

It is essential to remember that many organisms, though not visible to the human eye, are still part of nature. And by creating a new trail we are destroying their habitat.

Also, if the others in your hiking team decide to follow your path it can create a new trail causing permanent damage. This includes soil erosion, invasive human contact with otherwise a natural ecosystem.

 Pro Tip: Be mindful before treading the road less taken.

Bring enough food and water in reusable containers

It can be confusing as to what the correct amount of food and water should be carried while hiking. Since it adds to the carrying load, people often choose to take protein bars and buy water from the local store. This will increase the probability of disposing off the packet after having food or water which harms the environment.

Instead, opt for lightweight reusable containers that can be washed and cleaned on the go. They can easily be refilled while on the hike, if longer than a couple days.

For shorter hikes, it is advisable to pack things such as dry fruits, biscuits, theplas or chikki, or similar snacks that have a longer shelf life. Not only are they healthier options, but the reusable containers, once empty can be filled again. 

Pro Tip: Try to plan your hike, keeping in mind water refill stops along the way. If an impromptu hike, keep rehydration salts (ORS) or citrus fruits handy. Be alert to locate nearby water sources so that you can always refill your bottle.

Observe, do not engage

It can be quite exciting to see cute monkeys, bunnies or other animals running around in their natural habitat. But it is important to not engage with the wildlife as it can lead to the animals following you around. Or in worst case scenarios, misunderstanding your advances and defending themselves by trying to attack you.

This includes petting them, chasing them, and feeding them. Avoid feeding them snacks or leaving food open overnight. On leaving your campsite – ensure there is no food waste lying around. 

Pro Tip: If you do encounter wild animals, it is best to avoid sudden movement. These include jumping, waving a stick at them, shouting to shoo them off or throwing rocks.

It is best to quietly retreat to a safe distance without alarming the animal and notify your fellow hikers of its presence in a calm fashion. If you wish to click photographs, avoid flash as the sudden flash can surprise them.  

Use clothes that cause less harm to the environment

How can what you wear for a hike affect nature? This is a common doubt many people have. The fact is what you wear can indirectly contribute to the environmental issue at hand.

Opt for durable, eco-friendly clothes that are lightweight, breathable and skin friendly. Choose thermals that are made of natural fabrics and temperature regulating as you need to not just stay warm but avoid overheating when the sun is out.

Kosha is an expert  in creating eco-conscious winter layers for hiking and trekking. The unique blend of Merino Wool and Bamboo used in our reinvented thermals called base layers does just that. Also, choose to be a slow fashion hiker by investing in high utility socks and quality jackets.

 Pro Tip: If going on a rigorous hike, although a natural fabric, try to avoid cotton as it is a highly absorbent fabric. As a base layer, it can cause you to stay damp for longer durations, which is risky.

Additionally, it is not inherently temperature regulating like Merino Wool. You might use thick cotton layers, which can trap heat and unnecessarily add to your own body weight.

Hiking means minimal usage of fire

 Did you know that close to 80 percent of wildfires are a result of human carelessness? We should be extremely careful while lighting bonfires or using fire during hiking, whether it is for a campfire or for cooking. Only use fire if it’s extremely important, else try to use substitutes.

Pro Tip: Always ensure that you have completely put off the fire before leaving the place. Bonus points for not leaving ash piles and bonfire debris.

Minimise usage of fuel vehicles for traveling the extra distance

Often hikers take quick rides to get to their trail’s starting point or to the next base camp. This extra fuel consumptions harms the environment. But it also contributes to the disturbance of the surrounding wildlife if the off-roading is done at a remote location. 

Pro Tip: If there is a need for traveling not by foot, choose bicycles if possible which are less harmful. And if one absolutely must opt for vehicles, ensure you use those who have their necessary pollution checks done. Avoid unnecessary honking and speeding and travel during the day, so as to not disturb the wildlife in the night.

Water bodies are precious, do not contaminate them

The water bodies are a source for many plants and animals. While hiking, it is extremely important to ensure that we do not pollute it by any means. Avoid dumping of waste or washing in the water bodies.

Building of camp, a bit away from the water source can help in avoiding indirect waste drain to the water body. Contaminating the water source or water body is a disadvantage for you as well, as it is the same source you will be using to drink from/clean things.

Expert hikers always have a multipurpose mug of about 1 litre capacity, that is used to collect water. Often, expert hikers keep an empty camping capped jug with them, for precisely this purpose – to collect more than 1 litre of water to take to the campsite, once set up

 Pro Tip: Instead of throwing the waste into water bodies, dig a pit and bury them. 

While hiking, be quiet, let the nature talk

When hiking, it is important to reduce unwanted noises as it can attract wild animals. The usage of electronic devices and playing loud songs can contribute to noise pollution that affects the insects and small organisms.

 Pro Tip: If you want to listen to songs, use headphones. Carry a solar power rechargeable power bank for your devices.

Don’t let the cameras disturb the wildlife

Wildlife is beautiful and quite fascinating. It is natural to be tempted to take pictures of wild animals. But it so happens that when you are not trained in wildlife photography, you might end up hurting the animals or worse yourself.  

Pro Tip: If you are clicking pictures, ensure that you are not harming the subject. Avoid using flash. 

Nature is an abundant source of resources. The peace and happiness that nature gifts us with can be taken away due to our carelessness. So let’s be responsible and adopt these small sustainable choices, so that we can enjoy nature’s bounty longer. 

Picture credits: Photo by Guduru Ajay bhargav from Pexels


About the Author

Akanksha Duggal

Enthusiastic reader with a liking for writing and travelling. Editor at my College newspaper, and also a budding psychologist. read more...

1 Posts | 1,699 Views

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