Be Considerate of Other Visitors
In the Backcountry
Whether you’re going car camping, paddling, hunting, fishing, skiing, horseback riding, trail running, mountain biking, rock climbing, paragliding, 4x4ing, or hiking for a day or for 5 months, we all go into the backcountry with a specific experience in mind. We may be looking forward to the meditative peace and quiet, or balls-to-the-wall shredding the gnar, having some “me” time or connecting with friends and family, observing wildlife for personal or professional study, or simply to wonder and be awed by all of nature’s spectacles; but when we go into the backcountry, we do so to enjoy or at least learn from the experience. But a few common courtesies are necessary to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the backcountry in their own way:
- Be mindful of excessive noise. Many people come to the backcountry to listen to the sounds of nature, so make sure that if you play music or talk on the phone, that you use headphones or keep the volume down so that only you can hear. You should always be able to hear someone trying to pass you on the trail, or wildlife trying to give you a warning. If you drive in the backcountry, invest in a muffler that will minimize your noise impact.
- Be sure your pets are with you and do not disturb anyone else’s experience. Be ready for pet-to-pet, pet-to-person, pet-to-wildlife, pet-to-livestock, and pet-to-pack-animal interactions. No matter how friendly your pet is, other people and animals may not know how awesome your pet really is, or just may not want to interact with your pet. Have a leash, and use it when it is legally required and when it will help other people and animals enjoy their backcountry experience too. And pack out their poop!
- Don’t damage your surroundings. Travel, camp, and take breaks on durable surfaces and practice the other 6 LNT principles. For us and for future generations, take steps to preserve the backcountry area you’re traveling in so that it can support our shared enjoyment for the future.
- Respect the desire for solitude. Some people go to the backcountry to be by themselves, so small group sizes, infrequent contact, unobtrusive behavior, and avoiding busy holidays or weekends can be a way to give yourself or others the “me” time they’re looking for.
- Give horses, then hikers, then cyclists the right of way, yield to uphill traffic, stay to the right, pass to the left, and be friendly. These are the rules of the road that allow trail traffic to flow nicely, based on the needs of each type of travel. Be aware of your presence and the presence of others on the trail so as not to impede anyone else’s travel
- Use technology responsibly. Phones, cameras, solar panels, drones, lights, speakers, and getting easier and easier to bring into the backcountry, but they can alter our backcountry experience in both positive and negative ways. Be aware of the how, when, and where or your technology usage so as not to disturb others.
- Communicate with other backcountry users. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return, let those in your group know if you’re going to up at 4AM, don’t let branches smack people in the face, accommodate the pace of your slowest traveler so that they can rest too, be positive and don’t complain, give other groups space, use the red light on your headlamp in camp so as not to blind anyone, and make sure you have the gear you need so that you don’t have to rely on others.
Even if you are one, don’t act like a noob!
The ways that we interact with each other include, but go well beyond our face-to-face interactions with one another. The digital and international communities are also impacted by our everyday choices. Technology and travel have connected people around the world more than ever before, so in order to treat each other with respect, we have to take an active interest in understanding other people tick and what our shared interests are. Here are a few tips for employing the “golden rule” in the big picture:
- Stay informed. Educate yourself about our local, regional, national, and international history from a variety of different perspectives, and follow reputable news sources that cover stories outside of your local area or your social sphere.
- Engage respectfully online. Report online bullies, educate your kids how to not be a bully, and don’t be one yourself. Share, don’t just like stories that are supportive of other people, comment with your perspective in a constructive way, and use hashtags to spread information and positivity throughout online communities.
- Find a way to be kind every day. Support local business, help people when they need it or even if they don’t (as long as it is welcome), support local charities and donate what you don’t use, be a positive mentor to young people , volunteer in your community, and pay it forward.
- Speak up! Use your right to vote in local, state, and national elections, let other people including your employer, your representatives, your friends and family, and companies you buy from know what you need and what could improve the lives of those in your community
- Travel. There is perhaps no better way to broaden your perspective on the world than to experience a different place and culture. Every person and every community has something unique to offer, so when you do travel, make an effort to learn about the needs, perspectives, and ways of life of the local people. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
By and large, the name of the game is the Golden Rule. Treat others the way that you want to be treated. No matter who you are or where you are from, we can all benefit from empathizing and sympathizing with others, but it takes an open mind and an understanding of our shared needs and goals to interact in a mutually beneficial way. If we all utilize the interconnectedness of our world and take steps every day to make the world a better place for everyone else, we will all reap the benefits.
One of my main goals for embarking on this 56,000 mile expedition is to examine our common needs. Everyone has to eat, drink, sleep, stay warm, and interact with others in their community, but not everyone fulfills those needs equally. The systems that exist to fulfill the needs of 7 billion people around the world are vast and complex, but are composed of individuals making decisions every day based on their own needs and interests. It is my goal to examine what these needs and interests are on an individual level, to document the stories of us as individuals, and to gain perspective on how those stories weave together to form the bigger systems that dictate our livelihood and well-being. Specifically, I intend to ask the following questions of the people I interact with along the way:
- How do you fulfill your most basic needs? (food, water, shelter, clothing, sleep)
- What do you need to be you?
- What do you do with your waste?
- What does your community need?
- What does your ecosystem need?
These questions are all fairly universal. The first 3 questions are designed to help us tell our personal stories. How we get the things we need, how we define ourselves as individuals, and what we do with our waste- these shape what our every day looks like. The answers to these questions should highlight how everyone lives a little differently, and will identify the specific types of resources we use and what our access to those resources looks like. The last 2 questions should provide a broader context for those answers, connecting our individual lives with the lives of the people around us, and the ecosystems from which we obtain natural resources. In addition to asking the people I meet organically by just being in the same place at the same time, I will also seek out the perspectives of experts from a variety of different fields. The experiential knowledge of community leaders, scientists, utilities workers, miners, loggers, farmers, fishermen, manufacturers, historians, lawyers, and other adventurers will help shed light on how our needs are fulfilled on the level of these bigger systems, how things got to be the way they are now, and what the future may hold for our communities and our local environments. I’ll be using Dudetrek.com, the Dudetrek podcast, the Dudetrek Youtube page, and social media to document every step of the way, and I’m inviting all of you to join me online or out in the field. Here’s a few links to ways you can stay connected:
- Subscribe to the Dudetrek email list in the sidebar on the right!
- Follow me on social media with the links in the menu bar at the top of this page
- Search for the Dudetrek podcast in your favorite podcast streaming app
- Subscribe to the Dudetrek Youtube page
- Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org