“Trail Etiquette”

LCC climbing 001     As I prepare to head south to the Grand Canyon, hiking into Havasupai. Short bursts of training hikes on the weekends, have left me with more time to think than I should be allowed. A weekend full of clarity has opened my eyes to the truth. The reality of how I define happiness. And the realization of my one true goal…

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     The past few weeks have been full of disappointment to say the least. My trip to Havasu Falls coming apart one canceled member at a time. Saying goodbye to a staple that has been a part of my life annually for nearly a decade. Kind of a bummer releasing something you’ve loved for so long. I look to the future, reaching out towards a time when dreams become the way you live. Not just being a weekend warrior.
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     There was a time, maybe just a moment when I thought happiness was a destination… A place I could get to if I had a great job, wonderful family, nice house… And of course, all those things are something to smile about. But in my heart, they never brought me happiness. As surreal as that may be, I don’t believe you can measure happiness with dollar signs.
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     This last weekend, I went out for one final hike before I venture into Havasupai. Joined by my 2 boys Kemry and Caelan, and my friend Jeremy. We decided to hike Bells Canyon. Seeing how this hike is so close to the city, it’s a bit of a tourist trap. There must have been at least 100 people on the trail that day. Which is quite crowded for a 3 mile span. As we approached different groups heading up or down, I made a keen observation. Out of all the people we passed on the trail that day, maybe 50% said hello to me. And I would venture a guess to say that only 25% of those 50% initiated the hello. And many folks seem to lack the knowledge of whom should yield to who on the trail… As I feel I am a friendly person (at least out in nature), I try to say hello or how are you to every group I pass. It’s seems like it’s just common courtesy. So I decided to write a little “Trail Etiquette” Blog to help out the more novice of the “city hikers”. For I do notice a big difference between regular day hikers, and actual hikers that make this a way of life… Being in nature that is.
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1-Bikers yield to hikers and horses
The thought process here, is that bikers are moving faster and can stop and go with more ease, so they should allow others to have the right of way.
2-Hikers yield to Horses
Horses are bigger, slower and less predictable, so they get the right of way. When you encounter a horse, you should step off of the trail on the downhill side. If horses are spooked, they generally move uphill. It is also a good idea to calmly greet the rider, and make sure your positioning is ok. And don’t make any sudden movements that may startle the horse.
3-Hike as Quietly as possible.
Try and keep conversations at a moderate tone and just enjoy the sounds of nature. Most everyone is trying to get outdoors to avoid the sounds of the city, so it’s probably a good idea to leave the radios at home. Or at least wear headphones…
4-Cairns are usually there to mark a trail where it may not be easily identified.
Do not tip the stacks of rock, or create your own stacks on what you may think is a new, or better way. Keep nature beautiful, stay on the trail.
5-If you Pack It In, You Pack It Out.
There is nothing more disheartening than seeing litter on the trail. It’s simple, if you bring food, garbage, wrappers into the wild… Bring them back out with you. And don’t be afraid to pick up stray pieces of trash you may encounter.
6-Remember to take pictures.
These are the memories that will last a lifetime, the little things that you will cherish and share with others. And it’s always better practice to snap a picture of nature, then to take a souvenir. Not to mention its illegal to remove anything from National Parks.
7-Stay on the trail.
Do not cut the corners of switchbacks, or take shortcuts. The trail is there for a reason, follow it.
8-Stay to the right on wider paths.
Pass on the left. If the other hikers do not see you coming, let them
know you are there and intend to pass if they haven’t already yielded. Always move to the side of the trail if you are resting. Be sure to leave room for other hikers to make their way through. Even of you are just stopping to take a quick picture. But be mindful not to just trample the native plants.
9-Downhill hikers yield to uphill hikers.
Hikers traveling uphill are usually exerting more energy and working harder, so downhill hikers should yield them the right of way. Unless the uphill hiker yields to you first, but that should be their decision.
10-Say hello, or how are you.
It’s not hard to greet your fellow hiker with a simple “hello” or a “have a good hike”. Lets people know there are still friendly faces in the world. Even if they have to go all the way out there to find them.
11-Group hikers yield to singles, or pairs.
Groups generally tend move slower, families with little ones. The slower hikers should always yield to the other, faster hikers. It only takes a matter of seconds to pull off the side of the trail and allow others to continue their pace. It’s just the courteous thing to do.
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Please remember these tips, and try to follow them and pass them on to other hikers.
If you have anything else to add that you feel I may have missed, feel free to comment.