Bushwhacking Guideline for Low Impact

Stick to these basic bushwhacking guidelines if choosing your own path.

| March 2018

  • bushwhacking new routes
    Stick to new routes and keep your party small for the lowest impact.
    Photo by Pixabay/3938030
  • low impact footprint guide
    “The Green Guide to Low-Impact Hiking and Camping” by Laura and Guy Waterman, encourages all campers and hikers to follow a few simple steps to reduce their impact on the earth.
    Courtesy of The Coutryman Press

  • bushwhacking new routes
  • low impact footprint guide

The Green Guide to Low-Impact Hiking and Camping (The Countryman Press, 2016), by Laura and Guy Waterman is a necessary tool for any outdoorsman or woman. Laura and Guy Waterman teach readers about the value that a few small contributions can have on the land. With their suggestions, they also teach readers how to achieve each task. The following excerpt is located in Case Study 1: Low-Impact Bushwhacking.

Toward a Bushwhacker’s Code of Conduct

Before too much damage is done to all these nice little peaks, there is need for a code of conduct to be more widely adopted for off-trail travel. We’ve already touched on many points:

1. Do not leave litter of any kind. This stricture especially applies to the strong temptation to mark the route with bits of plastic tape. Yes, that makes it easier for the next party to reach the top or to make a return trip in winter. But isn’t difficulty and challenge and mystery supposed to be part of the fun? No litter means no litter.

2. When selecting an itinerary, think about the kind of terrain it traverses. Some microenvironments can stand a small amount of traffic without damage, others are frightfully vulnerable. If you find yourself in a delicate sphagnum bog, redirect your course if you can; and certainly reconsider any plans you may have had to bring a party of friends that way next month.

3. Keep your party small. Two or three can go up a trackless slope more or less unnoticed. It is highly doubtful whether a party of 15 or 20 could ever fail to leave a tragic swath of destruction in its wake. NOLS’s low-impact instructions advocate a maximum party of four to six on bushwhacks.

4. Do not build cairns to denote turns in the route, or even on the summit. Leave the woods as fresh-looking as you found them.

Brush Bog
3/11/2018 4:13:58 PM

Thanks for the good advice. For more bushwhacking tips and advice, see: https://www.facebook.com/BrushAndBog/

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