Human caused fires are an extreme example of how careless some hikers can be.

Human caused fires are an extreme example of how careless some hikers can be.

Harmony tips for backcountry travel

Human presence in many of our natural areas has had negative impacts on the landscape.

Human presence in many of our natural areas has had negative impacts on the landscape.

This environmental damage will not only affect vegetation and wildlife, but also human visitors, both present and in the future.

No trace, or low-impact, camping plays a major role in protecting that which we value and basically means when you finish with a campsite, leave it in such a condition that nobody would know you’ve been there.

Individual judgement is important, we can not always rely on rules, regulations and management to protect the environment, you just have to look at what’s happening in B.C. today.

A general guideline is to live as carefully as possible — it’s a matter of lifestyle.

Planning prior to a trip is essential from both a low-impact standpoint as well as having an enjoyable trip.

Part of the fun is in the actual planning, the anticipation of getting away from our everyday mundane tasks, it actually places you in the vacation euphoria even though you’re not on vacation yet.

Even in large land areas, use is usually concentrated in small areas, along trails, scenic views, and designated campsites to name a few.

There is a general tendency to go where others have traveled; trails, access points, etc.

Concentrated use results in trail damage, mainly erosion and loss of vegetation.

Some of the common problems include widening of paths by detouring around muddy sections. (Real men love mud, it’s those girly-boys who don’t want to get muddy that create this problem.)

Then there’s the informal and/or multiple trails created by indiscriminate use, the ‘bull in the china shop’ mentality.

There’s a good reason for keeping to the trail, and I’ve always wondered why hikers buy multi-hundred dollar hiking boots that are waterproof,  water-resistant and yet when they come to a stream or puddle they dance around like a little girly boy.

Areas are even more vulnerable to disturbance during wet periods such as spring thaw,

Living in a coastal rainforest area makes it doubly crucial in selection of footgear, try to avoid lug soles that move a lot of earth and tear up thin vegetation/duff layers.

Second to this issue is the weight of lug boots, they’re usually a lot heavier then earth sensitive soles, and on a long hiking trip this will make a lot of difference in your performance.

For those of us who do a lot of off-trail, cross-country travel, the method of travel will depend upon the area, circumstances and size and skill of your group.

When traveling cross-country with a group, spread out in an attempt to avoid trampling to reduce the impact on vegetation and reduce potential for erosion.

This will be less likely to leave a discernable trail for others to follow.

Your ethics and attitudes play a major role in the preservation of the wilderness, there will always be those that don’t give a hoot, they will go about their business, education is for those who are willing to learn.

Over the years I’ve found the ratio gap is narrowing as more and more folks are attempting to reconnect with their heritage.

The problem is, they have removed themselves from the equation, indulging in video and computer games, far removed from the real world of the wilderness.

Even with their best intentions they are destroying the wilderness.

Lawrence Woodall is a longtime naturalist who lives in Port McNeill.