The light from the morning Saturday sun illuminated the front dashboard of my vehicle with a golden hue. The sky was a gorgeous shade of crystal blue and sat prominently above our heads as the clearest it has been in months. It finally felt like it was spring, but I was stuck slowly crawling behind a line of equally eager drivers on the freeway.
“The sun came out and really brought everyone else out today,” I said to my passenger. We were heading out to venture into the nearby mountains and did not think that the rest of the world would want to slide back into nature too. “I don’t remember it ever being like this,” I continued.
It was true. A few years ago, no one really had ever heard of the words “super bloom.” Instagram wasn’t flooded with photos of excited Influencers and social media professionals laying in the beautiful wildflowers and crushing them into oblivion as they wandered off the path. Hiking was something only a few people I knew did, and I could never get any of my friends to sign up for a 5K outdoors. However, technology has changed along with time, and this has invited more curious parties out into the wild.
Although I’m happy to see people getting outside and connecting with nature, I would like to see more education on stewardship of the land. This refers to the protection and responsible use of the natural environment through sustainable and conservation practices and is about dealing with humanity’s relationship to the land. I would like to avoid the shutdown of my favorite hiking spots and scenic landscapes because people didn’t know how to treat their surroundings when they go outside.
Take Everything with You When You Leave
This one is self-explanatory. If you take anything to the beach, the mountains, the lake, the forest, or anywhere that’s not the inside of your home then you need to take it with you when you leave and dispose of trash properly in the available receptacles. There are too many times where I witnessed Starbucks cups and granola bar wrappers littering hiking trails. Your pieces of trash aren’t going to disappear magically, and you should never let other things that don’t belong to a specific environment biodegrade either. This could drastically harm or alter the landscape in ways that you may not have ever thought of previously.
Stay on The Path
Hiking paths and trails get shut down all of the time when some Evil Kinevil hiker wants to venture into no man’s land to put themselves in harm’s way. They end up getting lost or hurt and oftentimes even die because they venture off the designated path and deep into places that they have no clue about. Not to mention, venturing off the trail is what shut down the viewing of California Poppies near Lake Elsinore, California and what permanently damaged the landscape.
Step to the Side
Holding up traffic on the highway may get you a few middle fingers, some horn honking, and frowning faces. Doing the same thing out on hiking trails ruins everyone’s day. If you see a bicyclist, a trail runner, or other hikers moving at a faster pace than you then let them pass and give them room to do so. It’s the polite and courteous thing to do for your fellow nature enthusiasts.
Leave It Where You Found It
Trash can always be taken out with you when you leave. However, rock cairns (those rock towers that you see on the trails), flowers and plants, shells, animals, and anything else that was there before you, should not be taken home with you. Imagine if the entire city of Los Angeles tried taking one rock off of one of the surrounding mountains. The landscape would change immensely, and not for the better.
The Wilderness Is Not A Disco
For the love of God, please stop blasting your music through speakers for everyone to hear while you are out in nature. There are plenty of people (me being one of them) that ventures out into nature for peace and quiet not to listen to the latest Drake song through your cheap ten-dollar speakers. Not everyone wants to listen to the same music that you are listening to out loud. Either turn it off or put in some headphones.
When a fellow hiker waves his hand and says “hello” it is customary for the other hiker encountering this action to reciprocate the wave and the “hello.” It’s not just about being friendly either. One minute the person you are waving to is just a random person, and the next minute they could be the last vital link leading rescuers to your general location after you have taken a tumble down into a ravine. It’s better to have friendly witnesses that can direct the authorities to your whereabouts in the case of an emergency.
Be Kind and Courteous
Just don’t be a jerk. No one likes a jerk, and you should especially be on your best behavior when you are in a shared public space. Don’t ruin things for other people and protect what we have as a community together. Getting out and being in nature can be amazing, but you must be mindful of everyone and everything around you since you are not the center of this section of the universe. You can go out and enjoy nature, but just make sure you’re not destroying or ruining anything in the process.