Our Impact on the Wild

Our Impact on the Wild

It is important to remember when you are venturing into the great unknown, exploring nature and all her wonders that you are not alone. The mountains and woods and deserts and rivers are home to a variety of plants and wildlife. Please tread lightly and be aware of the impact of your actions.


Finding a stream or river while exploring the outdoors is magical. In the summertime, splashing and swimming in hidden waterholes is hard to resist. While engaging with these refreshing oasis, we need to remain mindful of our impact, so they will remain healthy and vibrant throughout the years to come. 

 It is wise to use biodegradable soap when on and off the trail. Even these soaps can pollute water sources if not used correctly. It requires soil to properly break down. Do not use any kind of soap to bath in freshwater sources. Do all washing, bathing, and cleaning a minimum of 200 feet from any water sources. Dispose of wash and rinse water in a six-inch-deep hole so that the bacteria in the soil can completely biodegrade the soap contained in the water.


When you are out exploring a new place, it is tempting to want to venture off the beaten path at times. In areas where there is an established trail, it is important to travel on these more durable surfaces. Multiple paths through the woods ultimately scar the landscape and may lead to plants be trampled along the way. In most cases, it is best to stick to the trail even if it means you have to trod through a muddy puddle unless you are hiking in the desert. Water is such a finite resource in arid climates, that it is best to avoid contaminate what little water exists. 

Most parks and wilderness areas design trails to provide maximum exposure to wilderness features with minimal environmental damage. Some parks and wild areas allow more freedom to explore than others. If you are a fan of bushwhacking, seek out areas that allow this type of hiking. Keep in mind that oftentimes you are not the only visitor to these natural locations. Venturing off trail can lead to the destruction of surface vegetation, animal habitat, and fragile soil.


It is important to be mindful when using the bathroom in the outdoors. If you find yourself miles from civilization when nature calls, be sure to practice bathroom etiquette even in the wild. Packing out your used toilet paper is a low-impact solution to taking care of business. Carrying out your toilet paper is especially important in alpine areas, wetlands, and deserts. If you are exploring an area with warm, moist soil, burying your TP in a deep cat-hole may be adequate. Bring several zip lock bags with you on the trail. Add some borax or baking soda to the bags and double them up. This will help with any odor. All ways do your business well away from established trails. Use a trowel, stick, rock, or your hands to dig a hole. Make sure to cover your waste with completely with soil and leaves.

We always want to leave the environment as close to how we found it. Try to keep your impact on nature as low as possible. Please remember to be mindful of your actions and be intentional about your decisions.

Narrator: This blog was thoughtfully written by Amy Gravlee. You can find her on Instagram @amygrvl

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