For anyone that knows me, you read this title and probably think those words would never come out of my mouth. I’m an active photographer and explorer who, in fact, shoots content all day, every day. My job as a creative freelancer here in Vancouver requires me to head out on adventures and snapping photos. You take one quick peek at my Instagram page and every picture is literally doing it for the gram.
So what exactly am I going on about here?
The world has no shortage of “travelers”. Some people have decided to spend their whole life exploring by plane, train, bus, boat or foot while some people opt to get away for a few days here and there. Regardless, we need to disregard the concept of becoming a traveller, and learn how to be a true explorer. It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the excitement of our surroundings. It’s beautiful, it’s breathtaking and it’s become second nature for us to want to share that with the rest of the world. So what do we do?
We pull out our cameras, iPhones, and GoPros to get our newest profile picture, our best #insta post yet, and a snapchat story that would make anyone jealous that they weren’t there with you. We live to share content from our lives, and in this process, we forget to stop for a second and think of a few really important things:
– Have we stepped off the trail?
– Are we hanging out in an unpermitted area?
– Are we setting up our tents in a designated camping area?
– Are we getting too close to wildlife?
It’s a good chance that we’re breaking the not-so-often spoken rules; the ones that are set in place to keep our parks a safe and beautiful for the enjoyment of other explores for years and years to come.
While social media is a great tool to get people out and exploring, I find a lot of the time it ruins places. I get that this is a big debate and hot topic, and I’ll save it for another day, but I strongly believe that we need to build awareness of how to properly adventure while always making sure we have a serious appreciation and respect for mother nature. All of this falls under the concept “Leave No Trace“. I’ve listed a few of the points below, but it’s something that we should click through to familiarize ourselves with before we head out on our next trip.
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
Know the rules and regulations for the places that you’re visiting and plan your visit ahead of time to prepare for weather, hazards, and emergencies.
2. Travel And Camp On Durable Surfaces
Use existing trails and campsites. Good campsites are the ones you find, not make. Do not alter any sites.
3. Dispose Of Waste Properly
What you pack in, you pack out. Stop leaving garbage everywhere. Stop throwing your “compostable” food into the woods. When we don’t follow this, we can attract wildlife into the area.
4. Respect Wildlife
A fed animal is a dead animal. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviours, and exposes them to predators and other danger. Always observe wildlife from a distance.
I’d like to tell everyone to not only leave everything as they found it but to also chip in and pick up after other inconsiderate travellers if need be. Leave places better than you find them, and next time you’re out there, please make sure you’re taking these things into consideration.
In addition to keeping our places clean, your safety is a priority. Please stop treating your adventures like casual walks through the park. You may be inspired by a photo to visit a place – but do you actually know the story of what went on to get that shot of the photo that inspired you? What was the terrain like? Are you in avalanche country? When was that photo even taken? Was it a day trip? What kind of gear and experience do you need? What if you get lost? What if you get stuck up there?
Start being prepared and researching what you’re heading out to do. The backcountry is no joke. For my friends in Canada, MEC can set you up with everything you need and even offers 101 courses and training sessions to get you educated. South of the border? Check out Backcountry.com
I don’t actually care what your reason is for getting outside. Be it for a photo or wanting to experience nature – getting out there is so good for you. I just want everyone to play a bigger role in setting a better example of outdoor safety and respect for all those people you inspire with your pictures. Because if everyone does a little, no one has to do a lot.