Preparing for a hike – Be eco friendly

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!

Getting there

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.

Eco Hiking – Top tips for environmentally friendly hiking

Living in the mountains every day I feel blessed to be able to walk from my front door and within 2 minutes find a yellow sign to multiple hiking routes. All over Europe there are thousands of well-marked and well-kept hiking trails, from the novice walker right through to those people who like to challenge themselves on the high mountain routes. The rest of the world is the same, with the majority of countries having some form of marked hiking trails system. Here at HikingYogi, we believe that Eco Hiking, and Environmentally friendly hiking should be the priority for anybody setting out.

With all these trails out there it is our duty as hikers to keep the trails exactly what they are “nature”, and to make sure that we are Eco Hiking. We are venturing out into a natural habitat where animals and plants alike grow and thrive, and we must respect this and consider this with every aspect of our hike and preparation.

I have highlighted two major ways we can make a positive impact on the environment, with a couple of follow up points to get you thinking.

Stick to the path

The majority of trails are well-marked and fairly obvious to even an untrained eye. Certainly in mainland Europe you will find trail numbers, timings, which huts are open and serve food and on the signs. These signs are normally very frequent and at major junctions. You may also see signs or symbols painted on rocks or trees to help you stay on the correct trails.

It’s always good to carry a local map with you, or have a good App on your phone. My personal favorite are Bergfex and Komoot. Both have excellent maps and tracking features. Most apps will run off GPS and have downloadable offline features. A compass is also a useful tool to have with you, again either one you hold in your hand or one on your phone.

  • Erosion

Everytime I am out with a group I see people cutting off the path, and taking a shortcut. If this happens regularly the side of the path with become damaged and will start to look like the trail. All of a sudden people will start to think that this is the trail and follow this route rather than the set trail. Eroding away grass, plants and habitats, all to make your hike 5 minutes shorter.

  • Regrowth Areas

Quite often you will see closed paths and areas shut off to the public. Maybe even paths deliberately blocked, with diversions in place. These are quite often regrowth areas, where the plants and vegetation need a chance to grow again. This could be specific plants that are needed for the ecosystem in this area, or it could be that the path has been worn away so much that it could be dangerous. Do not ignore closed signs, even if your navigation App is telling you it’s the right way.

If you are wild hiking, where you are plotting your own routes it’s always advisable to check websites or at the local tourist information office to see if there are areas not to be hiked through. You may find areas that are fenced off, again to not ignore these fences.

  • Damage to animals and their habitats

In most hiking areas you will see a wealth of animals, majority being birds, but you may come across deer, marmots, squirrels and all kinds of insect. No matter the size or shape, whether you or dislike the animals, they should be treated with respect.

If you stray off the path, especially into thicker grass or dense undergrowth, you cannot see where you are walking, or what you are walking on. You could be walking through animals homes, stomping on holes and filling or covering them up, potentially killing a habitat.

 

Litter

  • Your own

This seems pretty obvious, but not to everyone. Every hike I do it is pretty much guaranteed that there will be some form of litter on the side of the trail. I’ve even witnessed people dropping litter along the way. Parking areas are often covered in litter with overflowing bins. If the bin is full, don’t just leave your litter next to it. This will encourage animals, and who knows how long that rubbish will be stood there for. Just take it with you and deposit it when you can.

  • Take a bag to pick up litter

It’s very easy to pick up litter along the trail. I personally try to reuse plastic bags that I have bought fruit or veg in. Tissues are the main litter I find scattered around the trail. Pick it up and pop it into the litter bin in the car park, or flush it depending on the litter. Not all public bins are sorted for recycling, so if you find tins and cans out on the trail put them in a separate bag and recycle them accordingly. They can be easily flattened and folded into a disposable size and slid into the front or back sections of your pack

  • Think of plastic waste and recycling

This really comes down to planning. Just saying NO to single use plastic bottles is a huge way off cutting down on plastic waste. If you have a refillable plastic water bottle, then take care of it. Wash it regularly and keep it out of direct sunlight. There are loads of ideas on YouTube of what you can turn your bike bottle into when it has passed the point of no return. Metal bottles are the way forward. Prep well with what your are taking for food and snacks. Again there are easily solutions, use reusable tupaware or metal snack tins rather that supermarket packaged sandwiches or snacks. There will be a blog post in the near future all about preparing for your hike.

Wildlife

Of course here at Hiking Yogi we encourage you to look up and take in the beautiful surroundings you are hiking it, and not enjoy your hike through a lens, however we do also encourage you to look down. Be aware of where you are walking, and what you are treading on. It could be animals or habitat. Do not kill any animals when you are out on your hikes, this includes ‘bugs’ that might land on you. Just brush them off. They have just as much right to be there as you do. Do not disturb larger animals. If you do it could firstly lead to danger for the animals, but also for you. A lot of larger animals are very protective over their young, so keep your distance. In the ‘selfie’ culture it can be very tempting to approach wild animals for that perfect Instagram picture, but please just put the animals first. Finally, and hopefully obviously do not remove any animals from their natural habitat. If you find injured animals along the way, contact the relevant services for the country or area that you are in. If you hike with your children, please educate them on this subject so we can start wildlife conservation with the next generation.

Respect the water sources

I just wanted to put this in as a side note really, but definitely something to think about. The water system in the mountains, be it streams, lakes or rivers, are all Eco systems of their own. Providing homes for some animals, and a major source of water and nutrients for others. A few easy ways to help here. Do not go to the toilet near a water source, 100m away minimum. Do not wash anything particularly toxic or tip anything away that is going to affect the cleanliness of the water or the animals that live it or drink from it.

Changing your outlook

It only takes a few small changes in how you approach your days hiking, to become a more Eco friendly hiker and be more environmentally friendly. Taking these simple steps will make a world of difference. Share these ideas with the people you go hiking with. Please feel free to comment below if you want to add anything or discuss the points above.

About Colin

Hiker • Yogi • Skier • Eco Warrior

For me it’s all about the mountains. Everything about them, the views the trails, the pistes, the smell, the feeling….you get the idea.

I am a hiking guide in the Austrian Alps, taking groups out on the summer trails, then strapping on the snow shoes for the winter and exploring the back country. I teach yoga and lead meditations as well as some Personal Training and writing nutrition plans for a large range of clients.

On my website you will find a whole big mash up of the above, but with 1 underlying theme – Sustainability

Huh??

sustainability is defined as the quality of not being harmful to the environment, depleting natural resources and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.”

more to come on this topic.

Why Austria?

I moved to the mountains permanently about 7 years ago, starting in the French alps and ending up in the heart of the Tirol region in the Austria. I always get asked “what’s an English guy doing in the Austrian Alps?”. One simple word answers this question SKIING!

However, the ski season only lasts 4 maybe 5 months, what do you do when the snow is gone? That is where Austria really comes into its own. The variety of summer sports is phenomenal. Do you like to ride bikes? Road, enduro, downhill…. I could go on. However, the stand out sport for me has to be hiking. The vast amount of terrain could keep a keen hiker busy for years. If you then add in the Via Ferrata (Klettersteig in German), and the high alpine routes, the possibilities are endless.

With all this said, there are also a huge array of stunning places to lay your Yoga mat, or settle down for some peaceful meditation.

The aim of The Hiking Yogi

The aim of this website is to provide relevant and digestible information about how to become more sustainable, eco-friendly and organic when doing the sports and hobbies we love. As well as at home in the kitchen and with our daily diets. We want everyone to enjoy the vast world of outdoor sports in the most Eco friendly way possible.

All the best,

Colin

The Hiking Yogi