By Cameron Ownbey

Every early summer, new feet take to the trails and mix with the veterans. So yes, it’s that time again; time to pull out the top tips for happiness on the trails. Rather than simply reapply the same top tips list, here are some ideas to keep you hiking and backpacking in the right direction. If these are as routine for you as the 10 essentials, consider sharing your knowledge with a hiking friend who may not be so well versed. Please feel free to post your tips on our Facebook page.

Rather than list a bunch or general rules (we don’t like beating dead horses), we thought we’d suggest some specifics that maybe you wouldn’t consider without a nudge.  We like to look at our time outdoors as an opportunity to pay it forward to the outdoor community and hope that this list reflects that.

->Consider your tent spot carefully – high alpine plants have such a short growing season, they need every bit of help they can get. Crushed heather-that-would-have-been is a wretched tentside decoration.

->Carry down that forgotten doggy-doo bag that someone left behind. (You know I’d do it for you!)

->Consider your trekking pole marks. Many wooden bridges and cedar roots have been chewed up from those metal tips biting into them.

->Be NICE! How did saying “Hi, great day for a hike!” ever hurt you? While you’re at it, trade trail reports as you pass people: Is it raining over there? When did you leave this morning? It’s about a mile back that way. The camp sites up ahead are all full. Need anything?

->Leave the kindling alone – let it go back into the earth where it fell. (Exception being to clear an established path.)

->Consider your trash before you leave home. This helps you as much as anyone, but the triple-wrapped stack of trail bars could probably lose some cellophane before you hit the trail. Better yet, consider the total trash you’ll create before you buy your supplies and buy smartly-packaged containers.

->Think about what your campsite will look like to the next person who arrives. Where did you spit that toothpaste?

Keep a clean campsite!

->Consider your markers carefully – if your team is split, leave a signal that doesn’t damage nature or leave an impermeable mark.

->Pack out someone else’s litter. You looked at it and hated seeing it there. Be the bigger hiker.

->You are one person with the power of many on the trail. Your every step does make a difference, so consider where you put it.

->Pack out the TP when you are not using a designated vault or flush toilet.

->Offer first aid – Did you pass someone struggling with blisters? Ask if you can help. Be friendly.

->Save the texting until after the trip. Beeps in the wilderness are so gauche. Keep your tech to yourself (completely, please) until you reach civilization again. (Emergencies exempted, of course.)

->Heed yields. It’s simple: Uphill has right of way – always. You might consider a switch (yield your own right of way) if the opposite party is really struggling, though, regardless of their direction. It’d be a bummer if they fell on you, right?

->The dog and kid thing: I am a dog person, you are a kid person. We’re both used to a certain level of chaos in our every day lives. Those guys over there aren’t. Be considerate. Contrary to popular belief, screaming kids and hyper-friendly dogs do, in fact need wrangling out in the wilds. When mud, snow, dinner or water is involved, that goes double.

Don’t forget to add your own on our Facebook page!

Colchuk Lake from Aasgard Pass
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