Don't Be An I.D.I.O.T In Nature
It seems more and more we hear stories of people doing things for “The Gram,” as is said. Of course, it needs to be acknowledged that not everyone is behaving badly in nature to get a shot or be an “influencer,” as we generally see the worst examples brought to light. That said, we still see examples of bad form with people hitting golf balls into Glacier National Park, harassing wildlife in Yellowstone National Park, human waste not being properly disposed of etc. While we promote that idea that people Adventure Responsibly and work to ensure a fun, safe time in nature by following basic wilderness ethics, we’ve also put together a fun acronym that’s easy to follow: I.D.I.O.T. As in, don’t be an I.D.I.O.T in nature. Let’s break it down more!
I – Ignorant: Where do we start? Maybe just a list of some basics like know what the 10 essential items are for being in the wild, have proper foot wear for hiking vs flipflops, don’t swim in a toxic lake because it looks pretty. The list could go on. In today’s world of information, there is no excuse to be ignorant when going into the wild and not understanding what you may be getting into. If the internet isn’t your thing, get a guide book or ask a ranger. Don’t assume what you see on social media is the reality. While accidents of course can and do happen, being knowledgeable and prepared can help drastically reduce the impact.
D – Disrespectful to nature and wildlife:The key word in Wildlife is WILD. What may look like a cute, cuddly creature could easily rip your face off or throw you 15’ in the air when they feel provoked. Leave wildlife alone and enjoy them at a safe distance. That also means not feeding wildlife (talking to you, IG bird feeders) and not leaving behind peels of your food on trails that could be harmful to an animal’s digestive system. Resist any urge to “save” an animal – it ends up bad for everyone.
Drones have become increasingly popular as they can provide amazing views. Sadly, they can also be used to harass wildlife and cause undue stress to the animals. Rest assured, your video will probably never be picked up by National Geographic, so give the drone a rest when it comes to flying over a heard of elk.
We can’t forget being disrespectful to nature as well – don’t carve your name in rocks or trees. Literally no one cares you were there. It’s also illegal. Don’t build rock cairns or other structures that are unnecessary. Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not purposefully destroy natural formations. Nature vandalism isn’t cool and does not leave a place better than you found it.
I – Impatient: The wild is place to unwind, reset and refocus. While we live in a world of instant gratification, it’s important to remember that part of the joy of being in public lands is in the journey. Take your time – many amazing things can be found when you stop to actually smell the flowers. Don’t be upset if you can’t immediately post your selfie due to a bad internet connection – that’s kind of the idea.
O- Obnoxious: This one can be tough as obnoxiousness clearly has a spectrum. In general, it follows along the lines of being considerate of others and their experience in nature. If you’re in a large camping area, it is generally observed to be lights out and turn down the noise by 10:00pm. Don’t cut through other occupied campsites or fly your drone where others might feel their privacy is being invaded. If you "must" listen to music on a hike, keep it at a respectable level. When hiking, camping or doing whatever you do, read up on proper trail etiquette. Hikers going uphill always have the right-of-way and be sure to hike single-file. Be friendly and say “ hello” on the trail. Don’t yell at people if they happen to get in your shot of Delicate Arch as though you are getting a totally new and unique take on the place. You get the point.
T- Trash-hole: For a long time, people who litter have been referred to as a litter-bug. Litter-bug. Really? That name is a little too cute. The term Trash-hole is a much more fitting moniker. Several news stories have pointed out the serious issue of litter in our public lands. Litter isn’t just an eyesore; it damages the environment and can be especially harmful to wildlife. Make sure to properly dispose of your number twos, especially the toilet paper - no one wants to pick that up after you and putting it in a bush is not properly disposing. That said, If you are in nature, be a good steward and help to remove any litter you find so to leave it better than you found it, as the late Robert Baden-Powell coined. Help to educate others on the importance of not being a trash-hole.
All that said, enjoy nature, enjoy the parks. Just because there are some rules and guidelines in place does not take away any amount of enjoyment or fun that can be had - in contrast, it can add to the over-all experience. As always, Adventure Responsibly!