Corry Bondini carefully balances posting great photos and protecting trails on her Instagram account @hikingcorry. Photo submitted.

How social media affects local trails

Three years ago Corry Bondini created a new Instagram account to share photos from her adventures with her friends without flooding her main account. Now, almost 17,000 followers later, @hikingcorry has taken Bondini to places she never imagined.

But with the likes, comments, sponsors and trips comes a level of responsibility she is very aware of.

As social media highlights everything the province has to offer (#explorebc has more than 4 million posts) it seems more people are heading into backcountry areas in search of their own perfect shot.

But with the influx of visitors has come downsides. Trails have been shut down or restricted, people have been injured or killed trying to get photos and traffic on some trails is causing increased wear and litter.

Bondini said she has seen this first hand in Joffre Lakes, where she packed out garbage from other visitors as she detailed in a post in July.

“I feel like people see photos or Instagrams and want to get that exact photo,” she said. “At Joffre they added a second parking lot there was people being loud and leaving garbage, it’s gotten out of hand.”

She added she hasn’t seen such extreme examples on Sun Peaks or Kamloops hikes but tries to prevent any damage as a result of her posts.

“I chose whether or not I want to put a location tag,” she said. “If it’s a really challenging hike I’ll put a more generic geotag like B.C. or the park I’m in.”

She has also tried to add information in her posts about leaving no trace while hiking but is balancing that with maintaining a positive feel on her feed. Bondini added her experiences in Sun Peaks and Kamloops have been positive ones and she hasn’t seen the same damage that is common in the Lower Mainland.

Jordan Fraser, owner, content creator and photographer for Hike Kamloops (a popular blog with around 2,500 followers on Instagram), said she also tries to find a good balance.

The purpose of her blog is to provide instructions on local trails but she said she always tries to promote sustainable adventuring.

“More people are looking to get out there and looking for accurate information,” she said. “There’s a few hikes that we haven’t shared online just because we fear they’d be too popular…We always try to include a write up reminding people to take only photos and pack out what they pack in.”

She agreed with Bondini, and said she has noticed more hikers out since she started but in Kamloops and Sun Peaks she hasn’t noticed an increase in damage or litter. But she pays attention to her posts to manage any negative impact they may have.

“If something gets too much attraction or attention we could consider suspending it so it doesn’t get out of hand.”

As part of their marketing Tourism Sun Peaks (TSP) often hosts social media influencers who create content for both their channels and TSP’s throughout summer and winter.

Arlene Schieven, president and chief executive officer of TSP, said they are careful to select influencers who suit the branding of the community, which includes always using safety equipment like helmets and PFDs.

She spoke highly of the benefits of using influencers as marketing, especially those with fan bases that suit TSP’s target demographics and who create content like photos and videos in line with their branding.

For Bondini, her beautiful photos are just one piece of the puzzle as she builds her brand. She said she speaks up if she sees anyone disrespecting the environment while she’s out but likes that Sun Peaks remains a safe spot.

“I feel like at Sun Peaks it’s more low key,” she said. “It’s clean and well maintained, it’s a good example.”