Leave Nothing Behind
It’s a new year with new beginnings and adventures awaiting us. If you’re like me, the promise of new things to come is an exciting time. What am I going to see this year? How am I going to grow? Where will I be a year from now? Getting out and seeing our world in all it’s beauty is something I hold near and dear to my heart. I spend days planning and nights dreaming about my future travels.
The yearning for us to get out there and go for it can be all encompassing, and when the time comes that we get our chance at freedom in the outdoors our emotions can seem overwhelming, especially for those bigger trips; Here I am! I made it! I’ve been waiting all year for this! One of the reasons we all love camping, hiking, traveling – whatever, is to get away from our ordinary world, to expand our understanding of where we came from, who we are, and what other people and places are like. But there are a few things for us to consider once we finally excitedly step foot on the trail. We don’t entirely want to be blinded by the light!
When you go out for a hike, camping trip, or even a walk around the local nature preserve, it’s important to remember that everything around you is a critical part of the environment. The stability of the entire local habitat depends on the health of everything from the largest predator animal to the smallest flowering plant. If one group of organisms is disturbed, the whole ecosystem could be severely damaged; it’s especially detrimental if the ecosystem is new and just starting to form. Therefore, one of the most important rules to entering these habitats is to remain on the trail, or in designated tourist areas. Camp in spots that have been previously used (if possible). Try to avoid walking over vegetation, or collecting rocks to take as souvenirs. Additionally, do not cut down trees to use as firewood, and be sure to put out all fires. Fires can spread for miles and kill many species while displacing others from their homes. It’s best to allow the area to be as untouched as possible.
As well as giving vegetation the space it needs to thrive, we must also remember to leave wildlife alone. It’s fascinating to watch an animal in it’s natural habitat – watching from a distance is what we should do. Animals are unpredictable, and if threatened, will attack to protect themselves. Use your best judgement to maintain a safe distance. Also, whether they are big or small, feeding an animal is not a good idea. This may interfere with the it’s natural feeding pattern, and they can get confused as to what their relationship is with humans, or even seek us out for food.
Lastly, whatever you bring for the adventure is what you should take with you when it’s over. I can’t stress enough how important it is to prepare to take your trash along with you, even if it is seemingly biodegradable. Carry a pack to bring your food and drink with, and be sure to leave nothing behind.
This about sums up the basics. In order to keep these outdoor experiences flowing for ourselves and others, it is up to us all to safeguard the wilderness during our time within it. I hope everyone has the opportunity to make these beautiful connections within nature and themselves, regardless if it’s a walk in the park or a backcountry trip through the highest parts of the Rocky Mountain Range.
Understanding some of these “guidelines” to follow and pass on to others is important. We gain a new perspective while we walk among the flowing rivers and wind-bent trees. When we approach nature this way, we hold the power to allow our world to continue to be a stunning place, we hold a key to maintaining Mother Earth’s health, and therefore, her aesthetics.
If we are conscious of how we treat the wild places of the Earth, then she’ll be around for us to enjoy her pristine beauty for years to come.
Jessica is based mostly in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she works at the University of Colorado at Boulder as a STEM Lecturer. she enjoys teaching and engaging in conversations that inspire people to get out and experience the beauty of the World first hand, which in turn makes us all want to protect her as much as possible for the future. Her spare time is usually spent in nature; camping, hiking, soaking up the sun and observing all the wonders of our beautiful planet.