Outdoor Etiquette

Proper outdoor etiquette is mostly common sense but it is more than a set of rules. Proper outdoor etiquette is also a way of carrying yourself on the trail. Most of the times you are on a backcountry trip, you will never see a ranger checking to see if groups are following park regulations. We as backpackers must learn to govern ourselves.

Pack It In, Pack It Out
The most important thing to watch while in the backcountry is trash. If you pack it in, you better pack it out. There is nothing worse than sitting at a nice overlook or looking up at a mountain only to see trash at your feet. This is a great way to ruin the scenery. If you really want to help, bring an extra trash bag and pack out more trash than you packed in.

Fire Rings
Fire rings can become an eye sore very quickly. When you are camping start your fire in an established fire ring or where you can tell there has already been a fire. This reduces the amount of charred circles on the ground. If you make a new fire ring with rocks, put the rocks back where they were after the fire has cooled off please put the rocks back where they were. Then spread the ashes out to try to remove the evidence of the fire.

Campsites fall under the same category as fire rings, use existing places and then remove your evidence in the morning. Usually, it is easy to tell where the good campsites are because everyone uses them. Use the established site instead of making a new campsite because too many campsites scar the land just like too many fire rings.

Backcountry Bathrooms
Going to the bathroom in the woods is a frequently discussed topic. But it is pretty easy. All you have to do is dig a hole, do your business and cover it back up. When choosing the spot, make sure that you are away from the trail, campsite and water sources. If you can see the campsite or trail, you are too close. The hole can be dug with a plastic trowel, sticks or rocks. If you use toilet paper, put the paper in a zip lock bag and pack it out.

Trail Use
Backpackers spend most of their time on trail. If a trail is used by lots of hikers, they can end up looking like freeways. Walk in the middle of the trail in single file to help provide the trail from widening. But there is a catch. If you are on alpine tundra where there isnt a trail, you need to spread out a little. Tundra is very fragile and by walking in the same place as another person the ground is torn up very easily. If you spread your group out, the tundra is not damaged as much.

Other Hikers
If the location is popular, you are bound to cross paths with other hikers. Be courteous, say hi or just give a nod. This is a nice way to let everyone know that backpackers are friendly people.

These are just a few tips about proper outdoor etiquette. As already stated, proper outdoor etiquette is more than a set of rules. Thanks about some the above tips and follow the low impact ethics of the Leave No Trace organization. Help preserve the primitive character of the wilderness and it will remain primitive for generations to come.

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