Thursday, August 15, 2013

trail etiquette

optional titles
trail basics for dummies
don't be an idiot
I should be a park ranger
stop pooping on the path (yes, we are going there.)

Last Saturday I ran up Mt. Timpanogos. 
A GORGEOUS hike, and it makes for great training so I love heading up there whenever I have the time. It's also one of THE most popular hikes in Utah, so on a Saturday morning it was like a ride at Disneyland......people everywhere. I was in awe at how many people show disrespect towards other people, AND the mountain itself, and it inspired me to list out some basic rules we should ALL follow to make spending time on the trail more enjoyable for everyone.
Pack it in, Pack it Out.
You've heard this. You know this. There are signs everywhere. You are a smart person.
So WHY are we talking about this? Because there is still trash fluttering around the trails! 
If it's NOT your trash and you have room to stash it, pick it up--what a great person you are. 
Teach your kids to be responsible about garbage. Teach your friends.
Just pick up your trash.

Uphill hikers (bikers, etc) have the right of way--so if you're on your way downhill move over for the climbers. If the trail is wide, slow down and move over, if it's narrow find a safe place to step over and STOP. But if I'm hiking uphill and see a mountain bike or a runner coming down the hill--I have absolutely no problem stepping over so they don't have to stop their momentum (if I have a safe place to do so). Just do your best to be kind and courteous, and make sure to communicate with each other.

Don't follow too closely. If you come up behind someone climbing, don't breathe down their neck--kindly ask to go around. Definitely DO NOT follow too close on a descent--this could be dangerous if you are too close in steep or rocky terrain, just use communication and find the best place to pass.

Don't walk side by side when there are others on the trail.

If you are hiking in a group don't stop and block the trail.

Stop hating each other.
I run, I hike, I bike. I find it hilarious that there are a few people in each of these groups that just refuse to play nice with others. 

give runners and hikers a heads up when you come up behind them. We can't always hear you until you are almost on top of us--just give a little hello and we will gladly scoot over for you. Little bells on bikes are awesome too. Please don't tear up behind us and then act annoyed when you almost give us a heart attack. Just give a little hello.
Be nice.
Share the trail.

Don't blow past people on the trail. If you run up behind someone, kindly ask if you can move around them. Don't just run right past--slow down, and be polite about it.

Stop being so angry at anyone who isn't hiking! It's not your trail--people can go at any pace they choose--it's not up to you to monitor the speed limit. After very politely asking if I could sneak around a group of hikers last week I was told "THE TRAIL ISN'T A RACE TRACK YOU KNOW!"
It's OK if someone wants to go around you.
It's ok if the trail is used for biking, running, hey--if someone wants to roller skate down the mountain let them do it--as long as they are courteous, it really shouldn't make you so angry.

I'm not exactly sure what the rules are when it comes to horses on the trail......but let's just move over for them! It's alot easier for a human to get over on the trail, than a giant animal. If you are coming up on a horse--from the front OR behind, as you get close speak quietly so you don't spook them--let them know you are there. Be sure to give plenty of room as you pass.

It's so weird to me when you meet someone face to face on the trail and they don't say anything. I'm not looking for your deepest darkest secrets, but can you at least say hello? If you are out on the trail and come across other hikers you immediately have something in common--your love for the outdoors--that deserves a quick and friendly exchange.

So yeah, we are going to talk about poo now.
If you can hold off and wait until you get back to the nasty outhouse--just do that.....because can you imagine if every person on a busy trail used the bathroom somewhere near the trail.......gross.
If you absolutely can't hold it:
move off the trail.
drip dry. (am I the first blog talk about this? you're not going to find that on a trendy fashion blog). no one wants to be out exploring and find your toilet paper in the bushes. If you absolutely don't need it, don't use it.
GO OFF THE TRAIL. Waaaaay off the trail.
That one should be common sense, but too many times I've been out enjoying the trail and have come WAY too close to........let's just say you don't want to know. Seriously?!?
go OFF the trail
dig a small hole.
bury it.
put a rock on it.
don't just do your business and throw your TP in the flowers for us to stumble upon and be horrified.
Make it look like you were never there.

Don't do it. Just don't. I don't care if 99 other people are ignoring the switchbacks and blazing their own trail. Be the ONE person who doesn't do it. It's annoying. It destroys habitat. And in certain areas switchbacks are often needed to move around rocks, or make sketchy areas easier to maneuver. When idiots start cutting THROUGH switchbacks they send rocks and debris down the mountain onto hikers below. Just don't do it.

Don't wear headphones on the trail. I can't tell you how many times I've come up behind someone with their music SO loud in their ears I've walked behind them for five minutes asking if I could pass by and they hear NOTHING. If you simply must listen to something, turn it down so you can also be aware of your surroundings.
And please please please don't carry small speakers and blast your annoying music. No one wants to hear it when they are in a meadow of wild flowers with cartoon birds fluttering about. 
Keep your music at home.

I love my phone. It's always with me--it still amazes me that I own a device I can talk on, write on, and take pictures with. Sometimes when you climb up on top of a mountain there is fantastic cell service way up there in the sky! But please! Don't sit on top of a mountain where the rest of us are enjoying the quiet, and talk on your cell phone. Go HOME to do that. We escape to nature to listen to the singing birds and babbling brooks.......we don't want to hear about the latest score or what your plans are for the weekend.
Don't talk on your phone.

I'm embarrassed that we have to talk about this one. If there are signs posted with specific rules--for example, "No Swimming" or "Restoration Area--Stay on Trail", why is it so hard for people to follow these rules? Don't be an idiot. YOU are not the one exception to the rule. When we were in Yellowstone you wouldn't believe the amount of people we saw stepping off the boardwalks for a picture or to get a closer look at a geyser. The ground can be so thin and brittle in those areas and not only are stupid people risking their OWN safety, if they fall through the ground no doubt others will have to risk their own necks to help the stupid people out.
Just follow the rules--it will ensure that all hikers stay safe, keep our drinking water clean, and prevent new and fragile habitats from being trampled beneath selfish feet.

Cairns are small stacks of rocks that help mark trails. Some people don't like them--they think that a trail should be 100% wild and unmarked. Some people just like to be destructive and knock them down. Whatever your thoughts, just leave them alone, respect them, even if you don't like them.

Leave it alone. Don't feed it. Don't chase it. Don't throw stuff at it (you guys, this happens, people are so dumb). Don't interact with wildlife--keep it wild.

So obviously I am ALL for getting your kids out on the trail--that's what we do! I would live with my family in the wilderness if we could. Certain people can get uneasy or annoyed by children on the trail--most of that is their own problem, but do a few things to ensure that your kids are on their best behavior:
All of these guidelines above......?? TEACH THEM TO YOUR KIDS. Teach them young to obey rules, take care of the earth, be respectful and courteous to others on the trails. 
Teach them not to cut trails, not to run around others, and teach them by being a good example
Kids are naturally LOUD, teach them to take moments to be quiet and still, and enjoy the sounds of outside. Remind them that others flee to nature for the quiet, and to be respectful of that.

Most trails allow dogs--some don't.  DON'T take your dogs in areas where dogs aren't allowed. Remember how we talked about following the rules?
If you are in an area that allows dogs, just make sure to clean up after them. People complain about horse poop, but horse poop is mostly grass and will not have an impact on the trail. Dog poop is different, and we don't want it overtaking our favorite trails. Bring a small plastic bag to clean up after your pup. Some people drop the bag to grab on the way out--totally fine as long as you don't forget it on the trail--then you are just littering.

For more information on being a considerate hiker/camper, check out Leave No Trace and follow these 7 Principals.

and last, but not least
If we all just followed this rule the world would be a happier place. Don't do stupid things showing off to for your friends or for a stupid Instagram photo. Don't put yourself and others at risk by dangling off ledges or getting too close to moose.
Be kind and respectful, don't be an idiot.
enjoy your hike. 

What else would you add to the list?


Kelly said...

I think you covered everything. And may I add, you were the voice of my thoughts almost daily as I dog hike through Fairmount Park here in Philadelphia. Sheena, you are the best! My niece and I so enjoy your blog, we call each other and chat about your posts and pictures. Thank you!

Allie said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Amen to everything! Especially to your Yellowstone example. I can't stand Yellowstone in the summer because of all the tourists, someone will get boiled alive one day!

Lacey Parr said...

I like these! It's sad that rules that seem so obvious need to be pointed out. I don't think I agree with the headphones one though. It's more than reasonable for someone to wear headphones on the trail. If the trail is too narrow to pass without asking and their music is too loud for them to hear you, I would tap them on the shoulder and move on. If he wants to ruin his hearing, that's his business.

Olya said...

Love this list. My recent pet peeve is seeing people dip into lakes that are connected to water supply, with clear signs NOT to do it. My kids are true water bugs, and it was so hard for them to see adults waist deep in the lake taking pictures of themselves when they were trying to follow the rules and not even get their feet wet. And I have to admit to an embarrassing hiking mom experience a year or so ago. My youngest (2 years old then) said she needed to go potty and I stepped of the trail and held her by a tree. Only to hear an explosion of you know what coming out of her. I'm no stranger to wiping with leaves (comes from being raised in Europe) and I did try to cover up the crime scene. But yeah, that's one of the hazards of hiking with kids, I guess :)

Olya said...

Also, what helps our kids to remember and not get loud on the trail (which does happen from time to time with 4 of them) is that we need to hear if there are large animals near us. That's how we were able to spot mama and baby moose near the trail, because kids were quiet and we could hear the branches crunch (this was at dusk).

Hayley said...

good one Sheena..

Anonymous said...

You nailed it! And as a fellow frequent Park City area hiker, thank you! These things all seem to be common sense, but apparently not, judging from my daily experiences on the trail. My favorite one is to "say hello." I love those moments with a stranger, passing them on the trail and acknowledging with our simple greetings that we are lucky to be there under the pines.

Lindsey said...

My biggest pet peeve is the dog poop. When we had Ollie, we always brought a bag, always cleaned it up. When it's snow shoeing time, you see it even more, and there is a lot of it. Clean up your dog's poops!

Carol said...

Love this Sheena. I live close enough to Yellowstone that I hear news about what is going on up there and almost every summer someone does fall into the hot pots or gets chased by moose or even bear. Crazy people that have no common sense. The one comment I would make is that noise on the trail is actually good because it lets the wildlife know you are coming and they will move away. They really dont want to be around humans any more than we want to be too close to them. That is one thing that everyone knows thta live close to bear country is to wear bells or have a companion that you are hiking with that you are talking to, to let the animals know you are there. That way you wont surprise them which in turn is what causes them to chase you. Love your posts and your pictures Sheena.

annie said...

great post! : )

Tanae said...

AMEN! Loved it, thanks for taking the time to write's good for everyone new and old to trail use to review these.

Tanae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dorian said...

Great list! Two comments: On our trails in CA, horses always have the right of way before everyone else, and pretty much for the reasons you mention; and if your trails have leash laws, please, please, please keep your dogs on a leash. Your unleashed dog is not granted special privileges over my leashed dog. :) Thanks!