Welcome nature, respectfully

Outdoor Recreation held their first Lunch n Learn event – an introductory course for new nature-goers – of the spring semester on Feb. 10. The organization’s informational session listed tips and tricks to making the most out of any experience outdoors. 

Facilitated by students Lauren Wild, Emily Tate and Kaci Turpin of California State University, Monterey Bay’s recreation team, this talk was full of valuable information, starting with an explanation of the Leave No Trace principles. 

Wild said this principle contains a set of guidelines to ensure one can enjoy the outdoors responsibly and ethically. There are seven principles in total, which include disposing of waste properly and respecting wildlife. A helpful phrase to remember is “pack it in, pack it out,” which essentially means take everything you brought to your outside trip back to wherever it came from. This includes trash, menstrual products and even organic waste – littering any of these items in nature can do great damage to wilderness ecosystems. 

There is a misconception that it is permissible to leave food waste such as banana peels and apple cores because they are compostable. A good way to think about it is to decide whether the food scraps in question naturally exist in that environment. More often than not – they don’t. Banana trees don’t grow in Big Sur or Pinnacles and are not suited to decompose the fruit. 

Leave No Trace principles aim to influence nature-goers to leave their campsites with no evidence that they were there. Another important tenet of Leave No Trace is to leave the plants and all that surround them – like rocks, soil and small critters – where they were originally found. 

It is also recommended not to camp too close to a trail in order not to block the path. While on a hiking trail, uphill foot traffic has the right of way. This is because walking uphill is more difficult, and uphill hikers should be able to continue their momentum. 

Outdoor Recreation also touched on barriers to the outdoors. They mentioned that many people refrain from going outside because they feel intimidated by the overrepresentation of the white, wealthy, able-bodied depiction of outdoors people, but nature was made for all to enjoy.

Also included as a barrier is the misconception that one needs all the updated gear. Turpin cleared this up by saying that there are a few recreational items that should be invested in and purchased new, primarily life-saving equipment such as rock climbing harnesses and helmets. Aside from safety equipment, most things can be used, borrowed or rented. Hiking boots are recommended but not required. Outdoor Recreation even rented out such equipment, with tents and camping stoves available before the campus closure due to COVID-19. 

The folks of Outdoor Recreation had some great hacks for planning a successful camping trip. To keep warm in a chilly tent, Wild recommended filling up a Nalgene bottle with hot water and storing it at the bottom of your sleeping bag. Vests, beanies and wool socks which are not only great for hiking, but also for keeping warm, were recommended as well. 

A thick pad can be placed under a sleeping bag to offer more insulation to a tired camper. In fact, the temperature gauge for sleeping bags is most accurate if they are used alongside a sturdier pad. Thin foam pads are the least insulating. 

Turpin also had a safety hack of wrapping duct tape around the bottom of a wide water bottle. That way, nature-goers have tape on-hand in case of emergency and it doesn’t take up any more storage space. 

The best way to get outdoors is just to get out. It helps for new recreationalists to start small by utilizing local trails. One is not required to be an expert in nature activities in order to enjoy the outdoors. 

This talk was informative, helpful and engaging, granting a great introduction to lead people to the outdoor enthusiast lifestyle. For a calendar of Outdoor Recreation’s upcoming events, visit csumb.edu/recreation/outdoor-recreation.

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