|Does this camo skirt make me look more like a local?|
So, I sewed a camo hiking skirt. In my camo disguise, I feel like people respond different to me. I don't pass for a southern by any stretch, but I suspect it confuses people enough to pay less attention to my northern accent.
I'd been looking to get a new tarp with doors for a few reasons, so I opted for the camo version, which also makes it even easier to stealth camp. Plus, in a conspicuous campsite, someone walking by my campsite won't know I'm not a big macho burly hunter dude.
What I didn't anticipate was that wearing camo has subtly impacted my own experience. Aiming to blend in by taking on earth-tones makes me feel more like a creature of the natural world. Dirt only adds to the camo pattern, rather than blemishing the uniform civilized look of solids. Further incentive to play in the mud.
Camo and Leave No Trace Principles
Back when I first took a Leave No Trace trainer course (with Step Outdoors), the principle that at first seemed utterly ridiculous to me was about choosing gear and clothes that are not brightly colored to lessen visual impact. I thought seeing any people and their shelters was what made me feel crowded. And I didn't like the idea of anyone else dictating my color choices- I was fond of wearing purples or blues to match whatever flowers were blooming. Bright colors also can brighten my mood, and I've got a few bold hand-sewn items like my silver racing stripe sleeves that never cease to make me happy.
|Happy in my bright colors. Photo by Sandi.|
|Stacy helps us understand how wildland ethics differ from rules.|
|Wearing bright colors during hunting season. Photo by Sandi.|
On the way home from a recent backpacking trip, I made a short detour to a popular hiking spot full of city-folks (the parking lot was packed with shiny beamers and audi's). All the dayhikers were looking like REI fashion models and sporting bright colors, which is apparently what is in style right now. I stuck out in my dirt-splattered camo, and drew some disdainful looks (or maybe they were just responding to my hiker-funk smell). Their bright colors struck me as overwhelming and loud. Or maybe it was because people were actually being loud. It was the first time I could really see how colors other people wear definitely have an impact. Of course I wasn't mad or annoyed, rather, it makes me more aware of my own biases and it reminds me of my own socio-economic baggage.
I'd much prefer folks getting out into nature wearing bright colors if that's what is going to get them out from in front of their TVs and computers. Kids totally should be exempt too cause we need more kids to get outdoors.
I think it's interesting that camo helps me blend in more down here. More interestingly, it subtly impacts how I feel. I wonder if wearing neutral tones helps other people adopt a quieter, more contemplative attitude as well, and if that would cause them to change their behavior (be quieter, camp and rest in less conspicuous sites).
I'm also glad this LNT principle has helped me think even more deeply about the impact I have on other people, and what I can do to be safer in the backcountry. The fun part for me was this increased awareness, and trying some different things that definitely got me out of my comfort zone.
On gear and color choices, and leave no trace principles.