This coming Monday, August 21st, there will be a total solar eclipse that will be visible throughout much of the U.S. Moving southeast, first arriving over the U.S. in Oregon and leaving over South Carolina, the eclipse will pass directly over 11 states and will just miss another 5. Millions of Americans are primed to witness this incredible astronomical event, and we at AGS encourage everyone, if possible, to view this phenomenon out in nature. We made a map this week of the best places to camp in order to help you find the nearest major camping or forest areas in the path of totality. But with this many people going to campgrounds, we also feel it helpful to provide a brief review on protecting hiking trails and campgrounds.
There is a much controversy revolving around the concept of natural preservation and protecting our natural world, so it is important now more than ever to do our collective part in aiding in conservation efforts even if it is on a small-scale. Many towns that are hosting viewing events for the upcoming eclipse have issued reminders and tips on why and how to leave the environment the way we find it. In many cases, they are setting up designated viewing areas so that the surrounding country is not harmed by the massive influx of people, who might number more than 1 million in some places. The same can be said for many of the national parks and forests throughout the U.S., especially those lying in the path of totality. With this unprecedented number of new arrivals, there are many things to keep in mind if you are one of the people taking part in outdoor activities this weekend and during the eclipse.
While each natural ecosystem is unique and requires different things to remain healthy, there are some things that can be done in all areas to assure their preservation. One of the universal sayings surrounding campsite and hiking is “leave no trace.” This means leaving the area exactly how you found it: no trash left behind, no evidence of a campfire, no lasting effects on any of the local flora or fauna. This is the central tenet of ethical outdoors-manship. Good camping, hiking, picnicking, and exploring rely on this concept of leaving the natural world exactly as one finds it.
Besides this, there are many smaller things that add up to have a big impact on shared outdoor spaces. These include making sure to keep local water supplies clean, avoiding contact with wildlife in the area, and remaining in designated areas. Many areas have special concerns that are important to be mindful of. Yellowstone National Park, which falls directly in the path of totality, has a lot of thermal activity throughout the park. In this place, leaving the marked trails may not only hurt the environment but may also hurt you. Each place is unique and requires special care, but with proper planning, and, most importantly, respect for the area, enjoying the wilderness with the upcoming eclipse may provide a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Be safe when viewing the eclipse this Monday, August 21st!