Tread Lightly,
Spread Light

Maintaining the mountain culture through conscious social, ethical and environmental behaviors while sustainably engaging with the Backcountry


Backcountry engagement is associated with getting away from the creature comforts of modern life and connecting with nature, our true self. When we bring the conveniences of everyday life into the backcountry, we derogate the experience for ourselves and other users. These actions also reduce the potency of the desired outcome of that experience; to connection with ourselves, others and the natural environment. Disconnection being the true environmental disaster.

Guided mentorship is the most powerful relationship we can develop to help us gain the necessary skills to comfortably live and recreate in the backcountry. What follows are techniques for being present and recognizing we are in a shared space, improve one’s connection and reduce our environmental and social impacts while engaging in the backcountry. Engaging in these behaviors can provide us baseline culture or meaning. Practicing these behaviors helps us gain deeper relationships with others, the environment and ourselves. A re-connection to what we have been seeking.


1. Familiarize yourself with the Land Agency Regulations before visiting.
  • Each public land use agency (BLM, USFS, NPS, Wilderness) has differing rules & regulations associated with their use. Familiarize yourself with them before you visit & plan accordingly.
2. Stay on Designated Trails
  • Walk single file
  • Resist cutting switchbacks
3. Camp & Poop at least 200’ (70 big steps) from trail or water source
  • Camp out of site of the trail & other users
  • Bury human waste at least 6” deep & pack out your paper waste
4. Pack out, what you packed in
  • Carry out your trash & any you may find along your journeys
5. Observe wildlife from a respectful distance


1. Reduce your group size to 6 or less
  • Consider breaking large groups into smaller working groups
  • Lower our voices
2. Greet other trail users
  • Announce your presence when approaching other backcountry users
  • Slow down when passing & interact with other backcountry users
  • Step off to the side of the trail when stopping for a break, managing
    equipment or referencing a map
3. Reduce or eliminate the use of electronic devices
  • Resist checking your phone (set it to Airplane Mode)
  • Resist playing music
4. Be prepared to help yourself & others
  • Create the relationships to gain the necessary mentorship
  • Create a trip plan, start early & check the weather & conditions before leaving on your trip
  • Carry adequate food, water, clothing & equipment for the conditions & objective
  • Get the training & carry first aid supplies
  • Match your condition, experience & training to the terrain & chosen objective