Wilderness ethics arise from the establishment of a two-way relationship between the human and the living earth. As members of the Wilderness Guides Council, we believe that Nature, in all its forms, is our wisest teacher, a mirror of the soul. Our attitude of reverence and appreciation for Nature is the basis of these principles, which guide the programs we lead.
We recognize that each wilderness area is unique and fragile, and that the rocks, waterways, plants, animals, and every other facet of an ecosystem has a long and complex relationship with its place. This conviction impels us to protect and preserve these places as we immerse ourselves in their stories, their beauty and mystery.
We believe that relations between humans and Nature can be mutually beneficial. We introduce participants in our groups to the healing, aesthetic, and spiritual qualities of the natural world. In turn, we move with care and mindfulness in the places we visit, learning from the plant, animal and mineral beings we discover, while leaving them undisturbed. To the best of our ability, we restore the land we have spent time on.
We believe that our programs, which further an individual's harmonious relationship with the Earth, are compatible with the multipurpose goals of public lands. Our intention is to work with the land managers and indigenous people to provide input and support them in their stewardship of the public and private lands where we take our groups. Our intention is to love, protect, and even defend wild lands.
Because we respect the inviolability of each complex ecosystem, as well as the rights of other humans to enjoy these places, we follow the accepted practices of Leave-No-Trace camping, as they have been defined for each bioregion.
We familiarize ourselves with and abide by the regulations of land managers in specific areas in regards to: building fires, stream and spring setbacks, elimination of waste, disposal of garbage and trash, making trails, vehicle use, protection of wildlife, care of historical sites, restoration of campsites, and other regulations.
As guides of spiritually-oriented activities, we dismantle any ceremonial modifications we have made to the wilderness to restore and maintain the land in its original condition. In particular, this includes prayer ties, stone piles, rock circles, altars, and other temporary human-made disturbances of the land.
We allow ample time for a particular base camp to renew itself completely before taking another group there.
We maintain an ethical relationship with our clients, with the land management agencies and owners of the lands we visit, and with one another. We honestly represent ourselves in the ways we market our programs.
Acknowledging that no one owns the Earth, we realize that certain beautiful and sacred places may be sought out by more than one group, and we handle such encounters or potential encounters with compassion.
We instill in participants both a spiritual and practical regard for Nature. We educate them in the practices of traceless camping, in the principles set forth in these Ethics Guidelines, and in the benefits of developing an ongoing personal relationship with the Earth.