Guest Post: Abby Cooper

A woman wearing an overnight backpack looks out over an alpine meadow.

Summer, ah! The greatest months to explore further and more frequently. Hiking, biking, backpacking, camping, or strolling—the daily options for adventure are limitless here in BC. Being prepared for the sliding scale of adventure can be a daunting task; especially to do so with the longevity of the landscape front of mind. 

Good news - you found yourself here on this blog post, let’s approach it together! 

Before Adventuring 

Putting your best foot forward starts at home. Gear up for anything this summer, starting with the Three Ts

Trip Planning: Choosing something that is right for you and your crew might require a bit of research or “adventure shopping” to ensure that the distance, elevation, and trail difficulty align with the group's ability. Part of trip planning is also leaving your plan behind with someone responsible and in service who knows where you’re going, any trip variations and when to expect you home or to hear from you. 

Weather can make an “easy” day feel like the hardest slog in the heat or a miserable romp in the muck. Check the weather and dress appropriately, pack extra layers and adjust your plans as needed. The trail will still be around in a week or even a year if your current timeline isn’t conducive to the weather. 

Training: Maybe you didn’t expect to see that here, but training means two things when it comes to adventuring. The first one is first aid training: do you have it? Dealing with a small burn, blister or allergic reaction is instantly elevated in seriousness as soon as you’re removed from civilization or difficult to reach even within relative proximity. Taking a first aid course and always packing a first aid kit is recommended for all adventurous. The second type of training is relative to the adventure you choose. No, you don’t need to train for a half marathon, but if you haven’t hiked in a while, ease into it and set yourself up for success physically and mentally. That approach applies to all adventure disciplines.

Out On the Adventure

Taking the Essentials: This isn’t a full packing list for all types of adventures or objectives, but it’s the starting place to ensure you have your essentials. Being prepared is what makes the difference between a silly Search and  Rescue call and a justified one if things don’t go according to plan. Having the right supplies and the right training is crucial for all outdoor lovers. 

  • Flashlight/Headlamp + spare batteries
  • Firemaking Kit (such as firestarter and waterproof matches)
  • Signalling Device (such as a whistle)
  • Water + water tables just in case! 
  • Food + snacks - always a good idea to have a few extra items in case you need longer than expected. 
  • Communication Device - will you have cell service? If not, investing in a satellite communication device to call for help or alert a loved one that you may need assistance or are simply coming home late is well worth the price. 
  • Navigation  - Download an app map or have a paper map and compass and know how to use it
  • Extra clothing - Always something waterproof and warm as you never know when the weather will throw a curveball
  • First aid kit - don’t forget blister supplies
  • Emergency blanket/shelter - A bivy or tarp, which can also be used in first aid. 
  • Pocket knife/multi-tool
  • Sun safety - sunglasses, hat, sunscreen
  • Season and sport-specific gear 
  • Personal items like medications and eyewear


General Adventure Etiquette

Pooping: Let’s get this topic out of the way and work on removing the stigma around it, turns out that after hundreds of thousands of years of humans existing we still love to pretend we don’t poop and that’s silly. If you have questions on etiquette or find yourself without the proper supplies, ask a pal and it turns out they poop too. So how do you deal when nature calls in nature? While you’re researching your zone, check out if there are pit toilets and if yes be prepared to bring your own TP and hand sanitizer for a smooth experience. If that’s not the case, or no information is available, be prepared to take matters into your own hands by reading The Art of Polite Pooping blog

A person digs into the soil with a metal trowel to bury human waste.

Leave No Trace: Be even better than that. If you see garbage, take it out. We can all miss a back pocket while stashing a wrapping in it on accident sometimes, if you see that, be part of the solution, not the problem. There’s a strategy for dealing with garbage so it doesn’t make a mess of your pack, have a ziplock bag specifically for icky stuff or wrappers you don’t want lingering around in your pack. This will also make any overnight storage or separation of “smelly” things easier for bear safety if you’re camping. Follow the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace.

Fires: Did you know 42% of wildfires are human-caused? Assume it’s a hard no to have a campfire until you’ve checked your region on the BC Fire Bans and Restrictions website, as well as checked the local jurisdiction you’re adventuring in. Download the BC Wildfire App on Apple or Google Play to view fire status across the province. If you get a green light there, then check your specific park or rec site for more details on when and where fires may be allowed. Above all, use your common sense. Just because there is no fire ban doesn’t mean a wildfire can start because of careless behaviour.

If campfires are permitted and you have determined it is safe to have a  nice fire with pals, please don’t leave it around for the next group to find. You must extinguish your campfire completely so the ashes are cool to the touch. You’ll want to be properly prepared to put a fire fully out which usually means access to 8 litres water and a way to transport enough to fully distinguish the fire. When selecting a place for a fire, if permitted to have one outside of a designated fire ring, look for an area that is clear of overhead branches or trees, place rocks around the outside and be sure to observe the campfire regulation of keeping your fire smaller than 0.5 meters high by 0.5 meters wide. 

Drones: BC Parks and Parks Canada prohibit the flying of drones. Permits and licenses must be approved for special purposes. If you’re recreating outside of a designated park, you’ll still need to research the zoning. If it is permitted where you are, keep in mind that flying drones around others is an invasion of their privacy and can spook wildlife. 

A person with a headlamp hikes through a lush forest.

Trails: It’s simple: stay on them! How awesome is it that we have so many trail networks across the province to access a variety of adventures? It’s pretty special. Creating these trails and maintaining them is no easy feat, please do your best to stay on the trails and respect the signage requests. It’s a gift to have access to so many nooks and crannies. By staying on the trails and obeying signage we’re doing our part in protecting the area from impact which isn’t just great for the local ecosystem, it’s also a gift for those to visit this same place in years to come. Keep the wild wild by staying on the trail. 

Pets: This hot topic has its whole blog. Read Backcountry Travel With Your K-9

Wildlife: There are a few key rules here, but do yourself a favour and read up on bear safety here, wildlife encounters are no joke and all wildlife deserves our utmost respect. A few reminders on that here:

  • Don’t feed any wildlife - this includes appealingly hungry and confident birds and rodents. 
  • Do not approach wildlife under any circumstances. It also goes without saying: Do not pet wildlife. 
  • Do not leave any wildlife attractants like food out - learn about how to store food properly here. 
  • Maintain control of pets and do not let them chase wildlife.
  • Watch your step, some animals like smaller snakes and toads are endangered species and all animals regardless of size deserve our respect. 
  • Observe animals from a safe distance, this distance depends on the species. Please research relevant animals especially bears, moose, elk, and sealife prior to adventuring in their territory.

Music: It’s neat that you like it, but people aren’t in nature to listen to your music. Please don’t play music on the trail or while camping or picnicking in earshot of others. 

A group of search and rescue volunteers carries a stretcher.

What to Do In Case of Emergency

Incidents do happen. In fact there were 1,750 Search & Rescue incidents in BC in 2023. The primary reasons for these incidents were; injury, getting lost or disoriented and exceeding abilities. Attention to detail, pre-trip, can help mitigate risks, help enthusiasts plan and be ready to respond to an emergency and know what to do in that situation. There are two things you need to do if an emergency arises: 

  • Stop, Think, Observe and Plan (S.T.O.P) before you do anything else
  • Call 9-11 as soon as possible if you require Search & Rescue assistance

Recreating is meant to be fun, but it’s only a good time when it’s done mindfully. Respect the landscape, the wildlife and the future visitors by doing your part and not loving it to death. We hope this warm weather season is filled with memory bank imprints and zero physical ones, here’s to a summer filled with sustainable experiences - cheers! 


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