Masks, Trash & Parking: 3 Easy Ways to Lead by Example on Every Hike
Every time you lace up your hiking shoes and head out on trail, it's an opportunity to help keep the outdoors a refuge during tough times. Here are some easy ways to lead by example, keep it positive and create the outdoor community of your dreams.
In the last few months, Washington's incredible public lands and trail networks have been a lifeline for our communities. Sure, sharing public lands with each other can pose some challenges and pressures in popular spots. That's why our long-term work on campaigns like Trails Rebooted and funding victories like the recent passage of the Great American Outdoors Act are so important. We need trails. And they need us.
But not all solutions need to take years or decades to pay off for trails and public lands. Every time you lace up your hiking shoes and head out is an opportunity to help keep the outdoors a refuge during tough times. Below are three easy ways to lead by example, keep it positive and create the outdoor community of your dreams.
1. Mask UP for On-Trail courtesy
Like extra water on a hot day or a first-aid kit, masks are the latest essential for hikers. We've enjoyed seeing people rocking their newest piece of gear in trip report photos. Will you run into some folks without masks? Probably, but rather than letting that ruin your hike, let your own courtesy set the standard.
You might have to dig deep, but a little patience and kindness can go a long way. A wave is good. "Hello" is better. "Have a great hike!" — excellent. And someday, we'll all see each other's encouraging smiles again as we grind up to the summit.
(WTA's advice regarding face coverings is to have them with you on trail. You don't have to wear them the whole time you're hiking, but slip them on when you cannot maintain 6 feet of distance as you pass. When this all started we wrote an in-depth gear piece on how to pick the right mask for you, how to store it and what sorts of around-the-house items you can use to DIY your whole setup.)
2. Trash: Take a Little Extra Home
Whether you're a longtime plogger (plogging: the Scandinavian tradition of running and picking up trash) or just a good steward who wants to add a little more weight to their pack, there is nothing new about the idea of leaving trails cleaner than you found them.
While other people's trash isn't technically your responsibility, you're showing up for trails when you pack out a little more than you brought in. Trails and trailheads that are clear of trash send the message to other hikers that trash doesn't belong there. Plus, you're freeing up land managers to focus on other critical responsibilities. And, if anyone sees you in the act, you'll leave a lasting impression.
Do it for the lands you love, but also do it because it just feels good.
3. Park for the people (and have a backup plan ready)
Trailhead parking lots are filling up fast these days — and it's awesome to see so many folks outside and enjoying our public lands! But with that and the global pandemic in mind, it's more important than ever that you park like a pro and have a backup plan (and a backup to your backup) ready if your arrive at a full trailhead.
While parking, make sure to adhere to any posted rules and regulations along the road and use the finite amount of trailhead space efficiently. There should always be plenty of room for other cars (and most importantly, emergency vehicles) to make their way to and from the trailhead safely. How you park can set the stage for the cars that come after you — so set a good one!
If the parking area is at max capacity, it's probably best to save your hike for another day. We're lucky to live in a state with so many trails to choose from (over 3,800 in our Hiking Guide!), so there is no shortage of beautiful places to visit.