We don't stop hiking because we grow old, we grow old because we stop hiking. -- Finis Mitchell

Trail Etiquette

This afternoon Jeff and I are again climbing Poo Poo Point with our packs in continuing our training for Mount St. Helens and the Wonderland Trail. This is the last time for a few weeks that we will be climbing that point though.

The reason, May is here. And with May our eyes shift to Mount Si above North Bend, Washington. But I'll talk more about that later.

Today I'm going to talk about trail etiquette.

  • Pants: no hiking naked. Period.
  • Know the love-triangle: By love triangle I'm not talking about an actual love affair, but rather hikers, bikes and horses. Bikers rank at the bottom. They yield to both hikers and horses. Hikers yield to horses. And horses, well horses are large creatures. They don't yield.
  • ALWAYS stay on the trial: Never cut off switchbacks or blaze your own shortcuts.
  • Act like the road: On wider trails keep to the right when others approach, and when passing other hikers, do so on the left.
  • Let others know you're there: If you are approaching behind another hiker, let them know you are going to pass. Most likely they will step to the side to make it easier for you.
  • Obey heartbeat rules: Heartbeats work like this - A 12 heartbeat section of trail means that along that part of trail, only 12 heartbeats are allowed. A heartbeat is, well, anything with a heart. People, horses, dogs, mules, etc. So 11 people and dog is 12. So is 3 people, 4 dogs, 2 cows, 2 llamas and a goat.
  • Hikers going up hill have the call: Now this rule varies based the individual on the trail, but in most cases the up hill hiker will yield to the down hill one. This is for two reasons, the down hill hiker has gravity and it's harder to stop, and two, it gives the up hill hiker a quick break. But if the up hill hiker keeps going, just step off the path. It's really their call.
  • Hike single file: A lot of trails require you be single file anyway, but on wider trails, just because you have a large group doesn't mean you need to take up the whole trail with your large group.
  • Leave No Trace: Very simple. Make sure the area you are looks the same (or better) than when you found it. This lets everyone enjoy the area. Don't cut your initials into trees. Don't litter everywhere. Don't pull up the brush. Basically, don't be dumb.
  • Pack it in, pack it out: As I stated above, don't litter. It's simple. If you brought something on the hike, bring it back out.
  • Step to the side: When you're taking a break in a crowded area, don't do so on the trail. Step to the side so others can pass.
  • Leave technology at home: It's called getting outside. Instead of the iPod, listen to the birds and nature. It's the best soundtrack around.
And most importantly, have fun. It's great to be outdoors enjoying nature. If you're lucky enough to do so, look around and appreciate the beauty of the area you're in. Many people never leave the comfort of their own homes. A television doesn't do a real sunset justice.

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