In my last Blog post I covered all about Eco hiking, and being more environmentally friendly. Let’s be honest though, it starts way before getting out on the trail. Preparing for a hike is where you want to start, and where you can also be Eco friendly. In future blogs I will be expanding on lots of these topics, but for now Let’s get the brain in gear and start with baby steps and changing our thought process.
If you can just do one of the steps in either this blog or the last, then you will be making a difference to the world (maybe just in a tiny way, but every little counts), and therefore succeeding with our ‘ be Eco friendly ‘aim.
As always please comment below, as its great to start the conversation flowing.
Checking the forecast
This first point carries on with one of the main themes of the last blog ‘sticking to the path’. When I’m planning a route either to take clients out on, or going with friends or family, the first thing I do is check the forecast. There are 2 websites I use over here in Austria
https://www.bergfex.com/ – Firstly a fantastic website for getting information on hiking trails and information, but also their weather reports are very accurate and easy to digest
https://www.snow-forecast.com/ – If you are a skier I’m sure you are aware of this awesome website. However, it is also very good for the summer, especially if you are going up into the high mountains. The forecasts use the high altitude weather stations that are quite often at peaks in the mountains.
So once you have got your forecast, its time to plan your route. This will come in a future blog, but it is important to take the weather into consideration.
Poor weather – Safety needs to be your first concern here, stay away from high, exposed areas, with mountain trails. Choose a hike that either goes through woods and sheltered areas, or one that has a good solid wide path, using fire roads or access roads is a good idea in bad weather. Maybe even choose a route you have done previously. In poor weather small, thinner paths can become damaged when walked on, with potential of mud/rock slide, and therefore destroying the path.
Hot sunny weather – Shade is the key here, yes we all love a sun tan, but dehydration and sun stroke can creep up on you very quickly. Choose a route where you can get regular shade, with plenty of places for water along the way. Mountain huts often have nice shady areas for you to stop and re hydrate. A good friend of mine always says ‘re hydrate before you dehydrate’, so keep sipping water at regular intervals even if you feel you are not thirsty. Go easy with alcohol on hot days!
When planning your day out hiking, take into account how you are going to get there. 2 of you getting into your high emissions car and driving to the start point of your hike is not particularly Eco friendly. I fully understand that this maybe your only option, so try to offset this by not using your car for a day during the week.
Public transport – This is a very Eco friendly way to get places. Generally the transport will be going there anyway, and taking multiple people to various different destinations. Trains and buses are becoming more and more Eco friendly these days, with many being low emissions and electric.
Cycle – A great way to start your hike would be to cycle to the start point. Many parking areas at popular destinations have places to lock up you bikes. It’s also a nice warm up for your hike.
Hike to your hike – I generally work on the 2km rule. If the hike I have planned begins 2km or less from my house, I will just plan it into the hike. Do the same if you are staying in hotels or campsites. It’s amazing how many hikes you can find if you use a 2km radius of where you are staying.
Car share – If you are going with other people car sharing is a great idea, even if its for half the journey from a meeting point. A lot of local communities have a Facebook page, so its often worth just asking if anyone is heading near your destination on the day you are hiking.
Look after your clothing
I will be introducing many blogs about Eco friendly clothing, organic clothing and fair trade clothing, so Let’s just stick to what you’ve already got.
Keep them clean – If you go hiking for a decent distance you are generally going to sweat. Sweat particles and toxins that the body releases during exercise can damage the fibers in the clothing, eating them away and getting deep into the material. If you don’t wash your clothes pretty soon after your hike, you will really damage them, add the smell into the equation and it will need to be new clothes time! This goes for all your layers that are directly on your skin, and the next one up from that which quite often be the one that absorbs a lot of the sweat. Top layers such as rain mac’s can be washed down with warm water. Be careful washing waterproof clothing. Your machine should be cleaned from any washing powder residue, and the clothing should only be washed with special waterproofing powder/liquid that will re waterproof and not harm your outer layers.
Pack properly – Clothing can be expensive and you want to try to keep it in as a condition as possible. Don’t just stuff your kit into your back. Firstly with t shirts and light clothing, use a stuff sac and roll the clothes neatly inside. Get a decent stuff sack, waterproof and hard wearing. This will keep your spare clothes dry from rain, but also from anything that leaks in your bag. Most down jackets are made to be stuffed away, so make sure you do this, again in a waterproof stuff sack. Be aware that the stuff bags these jackets come in are often not waterproof, and generally very thin. Your outer layer, or Gortex jackets need to be taken care of. These are best neatly rolled. Lye the jacked flat face up. Do all zips up. Fold sleeves in then fold jacket inwards again. Then roll the jacket tightly up into the hood. Then put it in your bag somewhere accessible.
Buy Eco friendly and organic – This will be covered in detail in further blogs.
Fuel for the trail
Make at home is always best. I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes for energy bars and snacks in future blogs, but Let’s start to think about it now. In this section I want to particularly focus on packaging. If you haven’t already, get yourself a good selection of Tupaware, or reusable sandwich boxes. These could be plastic or metal. The key here is to stay away from single use plastic. It is often hard to find and expensive to buy fruit and veg loose, but well worth the time and effort searching your local town to find the shop that does, and at a reasonable price. Often local markets are a good way to go. When choosing your snacks, I believe that organic is best. You need Carbohydrate rich food to help fuel, but this can be a good mixture of veg, salad and grains. Choose a dark whole grain bread for sandwiches. If you buy energy bars try to go for those with the least amount of chemicals in as possible. Juicy fruit such as oranges and grapefruit are amazing for hydration and giving you some calories for energy.
Make the right choices
As always with being more Eco friendly and environmentally friendly, it is actually very simple. It just takes a little time and a tiny bit more effort. If you constantly have the ethos of every little helps, then you are halfway there. If you combine everything from this blog, and my last one ‘ Eco Hiking – Top tips for environmentally friendly hiking ‘ then it will give you a really strong base to become a more Eco friendly hiker. There are also things here that you can transfer over into your everyday life, such as stopping single use plastics. My first big step was giving up single use plastic bottles. I stopped buying them at the end of April and haven’t looked back. A small change like that actually leads to so much more.
As always please add comments below, and take care of yourselves out on the trails.