"The mountains are calling, and I must go." - John Muir
Who hasn't heard these famous words or seen them printed on a t-shirt? It might be a bit basic, but I still love this quote. Because I too feel the pull of the mountains and the wild.
Having grown up in the Netherlands, a famously flat country, mountains will never be anything less than magical for me. Every time I see them on the horizon, I am in awe. I cried when I took in the views in the Canadian Rocky Mountains (also because of the pain in my muscles).
There is an addictive combination of calm and excitement that comes over me when I am in nature. Waking up in a tent, walking through a forest, swimming in a lake. It all gives me butterflies and simultaneously grounds me. Nature heals us.
And I'm far from alone in this. Outdoor travel is a growing sector, but not without consequences. Where people go, destruction follows. As much as we claim to love our planet, we do a poor job of respecting and protecting it.
But we can go outside and connect with nature responsibly. This requires education and awareness. Here are a few things you can do in terms of sustainable outdoor travel:
- Know the history of the land and its native peoples
- Don't litter, pollute, or destroy! Leave only footprints
- Follow safe hiking/biking/climbing practices
- Stay on the marked trails
- Don't approach or disturb any wildlife, and definitely do not feed them
- Don't pick up any leaves, rocks, etc.
- Always follow instructions from rangers or signs. Rules are there for a reason!
- Donate to wildlife preservation and nature reserves
- Vote for green policies and lobby local politicians to protect more land