With Memorial Day weekend upon us, here’s a few tips to keep in mind as you kick off your summer in the mountains! When horseback riding in the back country, it may feel like you’re out there in the wilderness with no one around. But, there are others! Here are a few tips on maintaining YOUR mountain manners:
1. Finding Camp. Set up your camp away from trails and away from other campers. Preferably 200 ft from water. Edges of clearing along the trees are often the best areas. Avoid wet spots. Use existing fire rings if there, and, if you have to build a new one, be sure your fire is completely out and it’s torn down before departure.
2. Do not tie your stock to trees. The scars can be visible for year. A rope highline is a good solution. You can also use hobbles, or set him up with a friend! Horses get lonely, and having other horses with often eliminates pawing caused by hobbling.
3. Keep stock and toilets away from water – preferably 200 ft. Think about the folks down stream of you. Make sure to bury your poo before leaving.
4. Tie stock away from camp so as to keep manure out of campground areas.
5. Keep a neat Camp. Pack out your own garbage plus anything left by others. Leave it cleaner than you found it.
6. Don’t smoke on the trail. During fire season, stop in a safe place for a smoke break. Be cautious of stubs and ash.
7. Talk to people you meet on the trail. When on horseback, if you see someone, speak to them. Let your horse know someone is out there so they do not get spooked.
8. Give right of way to others when possible. Give hikers opportunity to get off the trail if you can’t. Don’t crowd others, and don’t push. And, when overtaken, let them by at the first opportunity on a trail.
9. Don’t crowd the horses in front of you. This makes horses nervous – it’s a good way to get kicked!
10. Stay on trail, don’t take shortcuts. Cutting on switchbacks can do a great deal of long term damage.
Written for the Lewis & Clark National Forest