Leave No Trace: A Man’s Relationship With The Wilderness

Anyone who’s been following me knows I’ve been working on a book for a while now.

In the process, I’ve learned that writing a book is actually a journey. It requires an author to explore further into himself, so he can convey the right message.

The journey of writing The Warrior Monk has required me to discover a new passion: mountaineering.

I have started small and local, but continue to expand the boundaries as I gain more and more familiarity with wilderness exploration. There is a fantastic sense of tranquility and connection that comes with traversing these places.

We all must realize the opportunity to experience our natural lands will diminish over time if we do not take steps to properly enjoy these areas… without destroying them.

You must think about how your actions compounded would impact the environment.

What I mean is, ask yourself this question: “Would it be good for the ecosystem and wildlife if a thousand other people did the same thing I’m about to do?”

If the answer is no, don’t do it!

If a thousand people toss trash on the ground, that’s all you’ll see. If a thousand people collect firewood from the forest, it robs the ecosystem of nutrients and shelter. If a thousand people trample the vegetation, it’ll die and lay bare, increasing erosion.

This is simple stuff.

Just think about the impact of your actions beforehand. As a man, you should already be operating like this, but if you are the type of person to toss trash out into the wilderness… I’m pretty sure there’s a special place in hell for you.

Instead of littering the wilderness and trails, pack out everything you bring. This is how we keep these places pristine.

Don’t throw rocks. Don’t cut down tress. Don’t burn things. And don’t scare the wildlife.

If you know you’ll be staying overnight, make sure you’re adequately equipped so you won’t have to rely upon the environment for shelter and heat. When you are ill-prepared, that’s when you are more likely to make survival decisions that will leave a greater impact on the wilderness.

Remember, if you multiply an impactful choice by a thousand or even hundreds of thousands of people, these beautiful places will quickly wear away.

Regulations & Access Controls

When hundreds of thousands of people who are not particularly concerned with environmental impact trample their way through Nature, you end up with eyesores and destroyed ecosystems.

That’s why some places have regulations meant to control access into these areas so human activity won’t destroy them.

You may need to purchase a pass to park at certain trailheads. Sometimes you’ll also need a special permit that goes toward rehabilitation of the natural land or determining quotas for when access must be shut down temporarily for preservation.

While I understand the need for wilderness regulations and access controls, this is starting to sound a little too similar to Agenda 2030 talking points, which is a prime example for why we as a nation must always remain vigilant against the overstepping of government.

These places won’t be around for long if we don’t practice Leave No Trace Principles as individuals.

Humans are incredibly destructive by nature, and by extension, destructive TO Nature.

Nearly every time I’m out on a trail, I see trash strewn along the sides and shortcuts through destroyed vegetation. So many people have chosen to perform the same action, the cumulative effects simply jump out at you.

This is why I stick to the main trails as much as possible, and when I must deviate from that route I go somewhere I can be selective with my footing, taking care to step on solid surfaces and avoid crushing vegetation or trees. Keep in mind, any deviation from established routes will generally result in additional erosion.

You may say this is hypocritical and I don’t care.

Conservationist Nazis will say that you must take care not to disturb a single spec of dirt, all while they do whatever they want.

Your presence will always be a disturbance to the natural environment, in some way. But you can limit that presence, while still being able to enjoy all our world has to offer.

When I go out to explore these places, I want to be stunned by the fantastical views and not distracted by someone’s trash or destruction. Even when I find someone else’s trash, I take it with me when I leave.

Every positive action helps when it comes to keeping these lands pristine and natural.

Practice Leave No Trace Principles, and take the initiative to make them perfectly clear with your party before you start out on the trail, especially if you have members who are unfamiliar with hiking or mountaineering.

“We are here to enjoy this place and leave no trace. If it doesn’t belong, pack it along.”

Drones & Fireworks

A quick note on the use of drones and fireworks…

Using these items does not adhere to Leave No Trace. Both are loud and disruptive to the wilderness experience.

After climbing up the side of a mountain to bathe in Nature’s serenity, the last thing people want to hear is a drone buzzing overhead or fireworks exploding. These two items disturb the local wildlife, and fireworks pose a direct threat to the ecosystem.

Most of the Pacific Northwest has been covered in smoke from wildfires raging in the area for nearly two months, some from natural causes, some from humans.

The Eagle Creek fire in Oregon was most likely caused by teenagers playing with fireworks. One simple mistake can destroy ecosystems and the lives of those around you, devastating wildlife and contributing to poor air quality over thousands of miles.

Think before you act!

Looks a little serious, wouldn’t you say?

Even when it comes to drones, have some self-awareness.

I understand a drone will allow you to get epic footage, but respect others before flying one. Either make sure there is absolutely no one else around and limit flight time to avoid disturbing wildlife, or ask permission from the other people sharing the area with you.

Drones are loud and annoying when your expectation for reaching one of these secluded places was peaceful serenity. Instead you have some jackass flying a drone for half an hour…

Get your shot, put it away, and experience things with your own two eyes.

Self-Awareness & Mountain Meditation

Ultimately, this all comes down to self-awareness, something you should be cultivating as a man. Be aware of how your actions impact others and the environment around you. Be the master of your own domain.

When you start acting in accordance to a set of values, your life dramatically improves. You allow yourself the opportunity to truly transform as a man.

And one of these transformative experiences is being isolated among the raw essence this Earth has to give: the wilderness.

When you enter the sanctuary of Mother Nature, treat the environment like a shrine. Respect it, and understand how quickly conditions can change.

Nature forces you to be present, because a lapse in focus could be fatal.

This ultimately leads to a type of meditation… There is an amazing sense of presence and clarity when climbing a mountain or being isolated in the wilderness.

Man is meant to push his body and mind, in order to see the beautiful things this world has to offer. Being able to get away and fully immerse yourself in the wild is a critical habit to recharge your body.

Nothing is more peaceful, or more savage, than the wilderness. Mother Nature is like that. She’s a beautiful beast. Respect her, and hope she doesn’t bite.

A rolling thunderstorm can lull you to sleep, but a hurricane can level you to the ground. As with all things, there are levels.

Find the middle-ground between these different levels, and embody the values that give your life meaning.

Legacies come from experiencing this world, while simultaneously doing what is necessary to preserve it. Leaving a trace on mankind, and no trace in the wilds.


Nick Hagood
Masculinity Rising

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