Hiking Etiquette 101

2:10 p.m. on February 24, 2010 (EST)
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This thread is for comments on the article "Hiking Etiquette 101"

If you've hiked or backpacked, you've probably observed someone breaking one of the exalted but unwritten rules of hiking and trail etiquette. Whether an infraction is the result of innocent ignorance or deep character flaws can be debatable, as are the rules and codes themselves. The American Hiking Society recently included the following hiking etiquette reminders in their newsletter. Share your...

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/blog/2010/02/24/hiking-101-etiquette.html

2:31 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
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One of the more despicable things I have witnessed was when a couple of friends and myself left our base camp to explore the surrounding area. When we got back to camp my friends small bowie knife and lantern were missing! There is absolutely no excuse/reason for stealing anyones belongings, especially while in the back country!
On another note, my big pet peeve is when people bring their dogs and don't have the decency to pick up after them. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs in the back country, I just hate it when I see droppings left on the trail from ignorant and inconsiderate people. If you cannot pick up after your pet, you should not even own one!

2:32 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
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And one more point....Please remove your rope, string or twine from trees or branches after you pack up.

7:26 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
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MOJO,

As someone who has had fun backpacking with a dog for a good number of years.....I couldn't agree more!

Canines should be following rules too. Train them accordingly and they do good.

The strings & rope too.

....and the empty, burnt, can of beanie weenies, yeah I saw it, (you know who you are).

9:38 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
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Let's see, pet peeves . . .

** Bear bagging cordage in trees and left out of reach.

** Turds and toilet paper on the trail or nearby. The worst I saw was right in the headwaters of a creek.

** Stopping to talk to backpackers and they refuse to take their packs off and relax. Always edging down the trail as if in a race. Yet they'll stand around for 30 minutes talking but not take off their packs. Crazy.

** Seeing bicyclists in designated wilderness areas.

** Group backpackers who bring in alcohol and have to have a huge bonfire no matter how windy, and then putting up with their engorged nonsensical inebriated howlings and screams all night long.

** Dayhikers. Yup, people who come out for Day-Use Only and can't stretch a day trip into an overnighter. Hiking Clubs are well known for this. Why come out to the woods if you can't spend the night? Why stare thru a restaurant window if you can't eat the food?

** Motard campers who come into a campsite with an established firepit and move it 20 feet to set up a new firepit, usually atop an excellent tentsite.

11:58 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
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My primary rules for hiking/backpacking are centered on respect for and kindness to the ecosystem in which I'm a visitor. Secondarily--not distantly so, but of a slightly lower priority in general--is a concern for "etiquette" toward other humans. By this I do NOT mean that it's okay to show callous disregard for others, to be rude or insensitive, or anything other than polite and friendly, at least as needed.

But, having said that, I'm generally not out there with a primary objective of networking, enlarging my social circle, or adding to my Facebook friend list. Not that those things are bad, but--lemme say it again--none of these are my primary objective, at least in most instances.

Even if my goal is to "commune with nature", however, I think it both reasonable and prudent, as well as a requirement of my faith, that I be kind and considerate to others I encounter out there. So I try. And I frequently fail, so I ask forgiveness and try again. At my current level of performance, if I were to be reincarnated (not pertinent in my belief system, but useful for analogy here) I'd probably qualify to come back at about the mid-level varmint grade.

One other thing I'll add, however, based on my observations of human-human interaction on the trail: If we don't allow ourselves to immediately assume the other person is intending to be rude or uncaring, but instead work from the assumption that the people we encounter are (generally, at least) themselves doing their level best to be kind and considerate, most interactions begin and end with genuine smiles. Assume the worst, and very often that's exactly what you get.

6:35 p.m. on February 27, 2010 (EST)
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You have been day hiking and your day pack is empty and you’re on the way out. It doesn't hurt to grab the trash some other careless hiker has left behind. There were numerous items I found on the hike yesterday. Some of the trash was created by the state or business and others by careless hikers. The gas line signs in our area were made of fiberglass. They are now coming apart and dropping nests of fiberglass on the ground. I am not sure why they installed new signs and left the old ones to drop the fiberglass everywhere. Also some other hikers left a water bottle box with plastic behind. Be careful when you pick up anything big as that is where the creepy crawlies like to hang out.
On the way out we were treated to a bird that was so amazing. It was a humming bird with a red head and a green body. Anyway the head feathers acted like a fish scale in the light and it lit up like a red light. We didn't get a good picture of it but it was a sight to see.

6:18 p.m. on February 28, 2010 (EST)
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** Dayhikers. Yup, people who come out for Day-Use Only and can't stretch a day trip into an overnighter. Hiking Clubs are well known for this. Why come out to the woods if you can't spend the night? Why stare thru a restaurant window if you can't eat the food?

So what if people can't stretch a day hike into an overnighter? Getting out for a walk in the woods is what matters, whether it is for a day or a month. What if all the person likes to do is day hike and they have no desire to camp out? Does that mean they have any less right to go enjoy being outdoors?

6:58 p.m. on February 28, 2010 (EST)
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I knew my Dayhiker thing would stir up the nest. I'm just surprised it took so long.

Sure, come on out, everybody has the right to be outdoors. I just wonder how it's humanly possible to enter near-paradise in the morning and leave the same day before dark. To me, and this is old Uncle Fungus talking, why torture myself with the dangling of the sweet grapes if I can't eat 'em?

7:21 p.m. on February 28, 2010 (EST)
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If I could.... I would stay "out there" 24/7!

9:08 p.m. on February 28, 2010 (EST)
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Tipi

Here in Oregon, and Washington as well, people don't need to travel hundreds of miles to get out. Before moving to Oregon I had travelled 200 miles to ind a camping spot as nice as my backyard. I live in a town in a forest, .1 mile from a wild and scenic river and the edge of the official wilderness. I can drive 4 miles and get out on the river in a deserted place to play with my dog and then come back home in less than ten minutes. The nights are long, especially in Winter and going camping alone means spending a lot of time alone in the dark when I could just come home and sleep in my bed. People up here get out a lot, then go home and cook dinner and sleep in their bed. We are really into four wheeling into remote lakes, stopping for ten minutes and driving back home...

I have skied in and pitched my tent in the winter and found that I had to leave for some reason or other, skied to my truck and drove home and I was home in half an hour or so. You can always get a camping spot in a park up here because people use them mostly for use and those who do stay, unless its a great fishing lake, are from out of state.

People think stream beds are the correct spot to go and leave toilet paper because it will be naturally cleaned away. go figure, butt you are also sort of hidden squatting in a stream bed.

Jim S

10:43 a.m. on March 1, 2010 (EST)
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The day hiker thing didn't stir me up, I just don't see it as a matter of etiquette. There is nothing wrong with day hiking and never spending a night in the woods. There is something wrong with pooping in a stream bed though!

10:53 a.m. on March 1, 2010 (EST)
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There is one etiquette issue in the dayhiker/backpacker divide -- most folks would rather not know you suspect they're crazy/lazy/dimwitted for not hiking/camping your way.

1:00 p.m. on March 1, 2010 (EST)
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But that works both ways. There have been a few times where I walked out of the woods disheveled, dirty, looking like I had just barely walked away from a plane crash. I'm sure some day hikers saw me and thought "Why would anybody want to spend a night in the woods when that is what you look like when you walk out?"

For the record I am working hard on my appearance in the woods, it occurred to me a few years ago that I was a dirt bag hiker. I'm trying to spruce up my image a bit. Going light weight has helped, I don't have all sorts of stuff tied to the frame of my pack because it wouldn't fit inside, and I'm sure I'm grimacing and groaning less on up and down hills because of the kitchen sink I was packing around.

1:26 p.m. on March 1, 2010 (EST)
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Actually society at large has a much stronger bias against backpacking than hiking -- a minority will admire your moxie but most'll wonder which wires in your brain got crossed.

It's only natural to develop a healthy regard for our hard-won expertise, and it's almost instinctive to our species for that regard to express itself by looking down upon lesser mortals. Frankly I'm in favor of snobbery to the extent that it builds consensus around higher standards -- whether it's music, books, or camp stoves.

From an etiquette standpoint, though, snobbery demeans those of lesser standing, which is why the manners experts encourage keeping it to a minimum in social settings.

(You can't imagine how many Miss Manners columns I copy edited in two decades of working on newspapers. I know far too much on the topic.)

9:54 p.m. on March 1, 2010 (EST)
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Since I cannot imagine why there is a bias against backpackers by dayhikers, and I do not doubt it, I remain happily ignorant. I haven't backpacked in a very long time and each time I meet someone at a shelter or on the trail to somewhere with overnight gear, I am JEALOUS. Just got to get the Mrs. to kick it up a notch and once again put on that woman's sized Tioga I got for her way back then... not really a good idea at present. I like marital bliss.

The cool thing about our sport is everyone gets to do what they want to do.

12:35 a.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Tom, sabino,

Actually I get the anti BPer bias quite a bit. It starts out as "my lord did you just BP out f there, in this whether, carrying THAT pack? (far away look) Then there's the stares - like you must be some kind of nut, or are you a superman? (have I ever seen your face on nat'l geographic or tv?) There's the far away look of "I could never imagine doing that or wanting to do that." Then if I happen to have a holster strapped on, I get the "uh oh I'm talking to the wrong guy at the wrong time look. If so then suddenly men become real polite and friendly and women look away trying desperately to be somewhere else rather than near this totally insane armed hippy nut case.

If you just have a day pack and look like you have common sense, like not sleeping on the ground like an animal, then you're probably ok, especially if you are wearing trail runners, tennis shoes, cotton clothes and have a newish looking pack of the current color scheme. An old pack, real back country clothes and boots puts you firmly into the category of "probably a nut case, Probably sleeps on the ground and eats bugs and varmints".

I think its important to share maps and information with other hikers. I've run into hikers from LA who were heading into a very dangerous situation totally unprepared (into Haleakala crater on Maui coming down from 10,000' into a storm) and they were rude and told us to piss off. I stopped them and informed them that they were in fact going to listen to me explain how they could die in the next couple of hours, then they stalked off going in the same direction. Really angry that someone they didn't know would speak to them. They said "we're in Hawaii for gods sake". (it freezes up there and storms blow up the mountain side and over so even with rain gear, you are rained on from underneath) They were in tee shirts and cotton shorts, we were in full rain gear and long underwear and were leaving as quickly as we could. There's this thing that if you look too prepared or too experienced people aren't interested in what you have to say, since they believe that being cute and unprepared is modern. hip, young, etc.

Jim S

12:00 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Jimmie, You have been a totally insane hippy nut case ever since I first met you - just like me. But then we were both living in the SFBay Area, spiritual home of hippies and beatniks.

Nice thing about NorCal - the majority here are totally insane hippy nut cases, so we all get along together just fine on the local trails in our fanatically guarded extensive open space reserves - except for the mountain bikers who keep trying to intrude into our "foot-only" areas (never mind that mountain biking was invented on Mt Tam, on the Marin Peninsula, just north of the Golden Gate - but then, they are totally insane hippy nut cases, too, just on 2 wheels).

But Jim, I thought that Oregonians were all woodsy people, with the few urban ones being the artsy hippies around Grant's Pass.

Anyway, I haven't noticed any animosity around here between day hikers and backpackers. After all, if you can't get out for a weekend or week of backpacking, you get out every other day, rain or shine (and right now we are getting deluged with rain - hey, Oregonians and Washingtonians, how about moving your constant rain back northward!). Alternatively, you get out in your trail runners, shorts, and singlet, and run up and down the trails. There are literally hundreds of miles of remote trails with the trailheads within a half-hour of my house (and yours, too, Jim, when you lived here). And many of the trails lead to backcountry campsites.

I encountered far more of the type of people who are dressed "to the nines" (where did that expression come from, anyway?) on trails when Barb and I were living in New England that I do here out west, whether it be Calif, Oregon, Utah, or Colorado (or anywhere else west of the Rockies). One time, Barb and I, with a artist friend who had also moved to the Boston area, were hiking Monadnock in the late fall. We had gotten a late start (well, we decided about noon one day, we wanted to do a short hike), and the weather was on the decidedly cool side. The trail was more like a frozen stream, with all the ice, but we were carrying our ice axes and had good climbing boots on. We got to the top, admired the views, then decided it was time to head down, since it was getting close to sunset. About 3/4 of the way down (with our headlamps turned on) we encountered this group of roughly college-age young men and women, clad in the canonical T-shirts and shorts (cotton, of course), with tennis shoes (this was before they were called "trail shoes" or "running shoes") headed up the trail - no hiking poles, of course, but carrying flashlights (the plastic type that Radio Shack was giving away free in those days, along with your Radio Shack Battery Card). We (clad in our wool shirts, sweaters, and pants, wearing hiking boots) suggested that it was a bit late to be starting up (dark at that point), and cautioned them about the icey trail. They assured us that they were just fine and it would only take a few minutes to get to the top, where they would admire the view. They did have lots of liquid refreshment with them, so they were just fine (malt beverages - what else did you expect?). One of those cases where we decided it was time to leave and get long gone before we were involved in a rescue. Hey, they were Young, Immortal, and Invulnerable!

2:34 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Don't toss your trash — not even biodegradable items such as banana peels. It is not good for animals to eat non-native plants/foods and who wants to look at your old banana peel while it ever-so-slowly decomposes? If you packed it in, pack it out

1. Unless the food is toxic it will not harm the wild life. However, on the other extreme, if there were enormous piles of wasted food in there would be a considerable impact on the ecosystem.

2. If it is biodegradable please do not throw it in a trash can because you are defeating the purpose of it being biodegradable, contributing to the problem of too many landfills, and removing a source or organic matter that can be recycled back into the soil.

I will grant this rule of etiquette the point of esthetics, no one wants to see your garbage even if it is biodegradable but when you pack it out take it to a composting center.

2:55 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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jtrenary,

It's more than aesthetics or biodegradability - it is a question of the animals becoming habituated to human food. When animals become habituated, they will seek it out. In the case of bears, this has led to bears breaking into houses (big problem these days in the Lake Tahoe area), going after packs, breaking into cars (big problem in a number of the national parks), and attacks on humans.

7:26 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Bill S

Indred and I were going to the top of Mt Lassen in July. We were at the parking lot which had 15 foot foot piles of snow around it and there was still deep snow between the parking at 8,000 and the summit at 10,000' We had a growing pile of ice axes, crampons, packs water bottles down jackets etc etc starting next to my truck when a car whips in and four people clad in shorst and tennis shoes jump out. Tehy walked over to us and asked what we were doing and we told them climbing to the top. They looked at the pile of gear and jumped in their car saying "maybe we'll go someplace warmer".

So we did climb to the top and on the front of the mountain there was 100 mph winds. We were bent over double to lower our surface area with one arm around each other and using our ice axes for balance. We got around back out of the wind and I announced that we would go up the glacier ette rather than risking the winds again. I cut steps and used 12 point crampons and Indred followed with instep crampons and using her axe above her for support, and we were not roped (but we both slid down on the return using our axes as brakes and she can self arrest). We got to the top, and spent a while when we hear a voice behind us. A very cold looking guy in a vest and tennis shoes stood there and said "If you guys hadn't cut steps in the glacier I could never have made it up here!"

Anyway etiquette. I never hijack etiquette threads. Um - Miss Manners would not want you to imply that the people you meet are stupid. She would want you to be very tactful in suggesting, in a way so as not to hurt their feelings, that they are total idiots for following a trail up a glacier in tennis shoes. However some very nice well meaning people have suggested using microspikes on tennis shoes on glaciers, but to me its like, well using the wrong fork because the hostess put in the wrong position by your plate and to pick up the correct fork, out of order, would imply that she did not know how to arrange a table.

I suppose its wrong but I demolish all ducks/cairns that I see on trails and off trail unless it might be very old or obviously does serve some function, like maybe in a desert.

Then there's a very grey area. Around here they "brush hog" mow underbrush to control fire hazard, make lots of dirt roads, and snow mobiles go everywhere in the winter and 4 wheelers do the same. And no Bill, people up here are not woodsy, they just live here, they have about as much respect as desert people who use the desert as a junk yard and use ancient pottery for target practice. Under these circumstances I find no reason to follow LNT or to not collect ancient pottery shards after they have been used for target practice. If I find a stone knife or arrowhead it goes into my collection. Eventually they will end up in some schools collection.

Jim S

2:31 a.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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I suppose its wrong but I demolish all ducks/cairns that I see on trails and off trail unless it might be very old or obviously does serve some function, like maybe in a desert.

I'm sure this makes people stronger if it doesn't get them killed -- but why admit it in public?

1:19 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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I must not be familiar with the offensive use of cairns in the backcountry; am I missing something?

Here in the Appalachians, cairns are used frequently to mark which direction the trail goes in a confusing spot. The trail can often be unclear- at the bottom of a steep-walled drainage where flash flooding constantly changes the ground- or where an unnoficial trail splits off to one side- or where the topography makes the correct direction *seem* incorrect. At such locations I would much rather see a Cairn than a man made sign, which could take someone days to pack in.

Many times I have come to a place where it is unclear where the trail correctly crosses a stream, commonly at a point where an error could mean going up the wrong mountain. To see a Set of Cairns, one on each side of the stream (or river), subtly suggesting the correct location, is in my thought quite helpful.

Edit: Sorry Alicia, I didn't read the whole article before I wrote- I now see where you clarified that cairns are supposed to be used as markers (and not decoration)

1:34 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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Sorry about the confusion there, gonzan.

Yes, absolutely cairns are important for navigation. There are some local hikes around here where people seem to like to build cairns for fun, but how and where they build them has nothing to do with the actual route of the trail. I find it odd.

1:50 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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Something new under the sun (or trees in this case) every day. Never occurred to me that people might see the stacks of rocks along sections of trail, conclude they're decoration and decide to contribute examples of their own creativity.

I'd still look askance at removing one if I didn't see the perpetrators put it there to begin with; what seems superfluous to one set of eyes might not be to the person who put it there.

2:10 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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I see your point Tommangan, on the other hand, knowing that they are used for navigation, It would be rather frustrating if I came accross a cairn that had no directional purpose and I was subsequently either misdirected because of it or at the least befuddled by what it was supposed to be indicating.

If I come accross a cairn, I presume it is needed at that spot to point the right way. I have made them at points where I had trouble determining the correct way, so others won't have the same trouble.

I haven't made up my mind yet about what I will do if I come across a "hippie" cairn, but I can see how it would be warranted to remove one that might cause misdirection.

2:31 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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Hopefully it'd be pretty obvious if one served no purpose, but I could still see somebody leaving one behind before setting out off trail, reasoning that they'd look for the cairn on the way back as reassurance they'd returned to the trail they'd left.

2:44 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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A major problem with cairns in many places I have been is that successive parties place them to mark their path as they go, so they can retrace, often (and I emphasize often) not having seen or realized that there are already cairns in place. This is most often off-trail, crosscountry, but I have seen it along trails. A major example of the latter is the trail up Mt. Dana, just south of Tioga Pass. This is a very popular hike. The trail on the lower part is very obvious (except for a number of switchback cuts), but on the last 400 feet vertical or so, people seem to have wandered all over the talus slope and placed cairns. There are numerous places where you can look to the right and left while standing at one cairn and see 3 or 4 other cairns at about the same level, marking various parallel and criscrossing routes. A number of the paths are well enough worn that they could be followed without any cairns for anyone who is paying attention to where they are going.

An example of the off-trail multitude of cairns is on the north side of Tioga Pass, on the route up Mt Conness from the hikers walkin campground near Saddlebag Lake. The trail from the campground past the experiment station is obvious enough. But you have to head crosscountry to get to the peak. The hillside is strewn with dozens of cairns, potentially indicating parallel and criscrossing routes that people have taken, some being straight-forward hiking up the steep slope, some leading to scrambling routes. Interestingly enough, once you get onto the summit plateau on Conness, there are no more cairns, probably on the theory that you can see the summit block. However, on the descent on the same route, spotting where you need to drop over the edge is not marked by a cairn, and a bit obscure unless you did as you should - always look behind you at critical points. Things look different when you go forward than when retracing on a route (even "well-marked" trails).

Basically what it comes down to is you do not know who placed the cairns and for what purpose. They may or may not have been headed to the same place that you are.

gonzan mentions stream crossings. I have had the experience in the NH Whites, Smoky Mountain NP, the Ruby Mountains, and the Canadian Rockies where cairns on each side of a stream apparently marked where the trail crossed the stream, but discovered on getting to the other side of the stream that there was no sign of a trail, just thick underbrush. Again, why was the cairn on the other side placed there? In each case, heading upstream (one case) or downstream (the other 3), we discovered the actual stream crossing, with 2 of the cases being a quarter mile along the stream and one (the Rubies) close to a half mile.

So be cautious about following cairns. I really do have to agree with Jim S on this point - most cairns should be removed.

4:13 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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OK, I bow to superior wisdom on the subject of cairns. I guess this is what they mean by getting one's ducks in a row.

6:29 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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I should add that the same thing holds for blazes on trees. There are places in the Sierra where there are blazes marking long since abandoned trails. The NPS and USFS long ago quit using blazed trees to mark trails, so many of the blazes are partially healed (they do not seem to ever heal completely). Thankfully backpackers rarely carry axes and hatchets these days, so there are few recent blazes. Still, there are places where there are more blazes than needed.

For the most part, the backcountry ski trail markings (blue diamonds, most of which are reflective) are pretty straight forward, at least as long as one remembers that the ski trails often do not follow the summer trails.

There are also a large number of the triangular trail markers along the Muir and PC trails. In many cases, only the wooden backing remains, and in others, the paint has faded or peeled off, leading one to wonder which trail was being marked. Add to that the re-routing of many trails.

Best to learn to properly use a map and not rely on ducks (aka cairns), blazes, and abandoned trail markers.

7:31 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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A lot of places the trail is not confusing, well worn and obvious, yet people build cairn art. I think its like leaving your trash in a neat little pile so its not trashy. Also a lot of people with no idea where they are going make cairns in the wilderness, find the path or place they were looking for and do not come back and remove them. Like I say - I leave large old cairns that obviously serve a purpose, but I kick the others over. So thats why I would admit it in public. Hmm what would Miss Manners say about this? I was really referring to 3 rocks stacked - ducks.

Jim S

8:07 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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Hmm what would Miss Manners say about this?

I think she would say that etiquette developed to reduce the frictions that endanger social relationships. If what you're doing helps people and builds social cohesion, she'd say fine.

If what you're doing suits your own whims without regards to the impacts on others and needlessly sews anger and distrust, then she'd frown on it.

Incidentally, Judith Martin, who writes the Miss Manners column, is one of the best in the business; we could all learn something from her writing style.

11:52 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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Tom

We had a Miss Manners book by our toilet for years - spent a lot of time reading her. Thats why I'm so polite...

Just wondered though, don't you think "building ducks" violates "Leave no trace". Thas my real objection.

12:34 a.m. on March 4, 2010 (EST)
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I think once one's built, the damage is done. We've established that many are redundant or confusing and worthy of removal on those grounds.

But those are not the grounds I'm reading from your posts. It sounds like you're punishing people for violating LNT by removing their navigational aids.

This is a pretty harsh response, given the large percentage of outdoor mishaps related to getting lost, and the considerable potential S&R expense.

I'll certainly set a much higher threshold for making a cairn in the future, given the factors we've discussed. But I also think all ethical decisions need to have a basis in common sense: I wouldn't risk other people's safety on LNT grounds, which is why I'd be deeply reluctant to remove one -- it would just figure that the one I knock down causes 12 Boy Scouts to vanish in the Gorge of Eternal Peril.

7:39 a.m. on March 4, 2010 (EST)
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Back to the “day packing”comment. Not everyone who likes to hike has the opportunity you get out for a multi day trip. I work (6) days a week!!! So, on the seventh day, I usually spend the entire day out hiking. For me, this is a tremendous stress reliever. And in regards to etiquette, what does day hiking vs. an over night stay have to do with proper trail etiquette?

Yes, I did take offense to the original statement, because you are no better then I am and visa-versa. We both enjoy the trails for our own personal reasons, and how we conduct ourselves is the original topic, not whether day packers or over night packers are treated or perceived differently.

7:58 a.m. on March 4, 2010 (EST)
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The point of the original post about day vs. overnight hikers was not to declare one better than the other - it was to trigger a debate about the divide. This is an etiquette issue because etiquette obliges us to consider how our actions affect those who have different viewpoints.

Everybody on the trail should be mindful of how their actions affect those with a different hiking style.

11:09 a.m. on March 4, 2010 (EST)
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I have come across a divide in regards to other “trail” activities, mainly between hiking, and equestrian riders. In my personal experience, the equestrian riders ALWAYS look down at anyone hiking these trails (no pun intended). The equestrian riders do a lot more damage to these trails then any hiker that I have seen. When I come up on anyone on a horse or group of horses, I always yield to them, whether they are coming up from behind to toward me on the trail. But still, they usually have some “smart” remark about hikers being on these trails. I must add that all of these trails are clearly marked as trail for both hiking and equestrian use.
That is the ONLY reason that I wrote the above reply. As for hiking on these trails, I always get positive responses (greeting) and respect from all the other hikers, whether they are over night hikers, or day packers, but not from the equestrian riders.
Like-minded people usually have mutual respect for others with the same interest, with a few exceptions. As with any hobby, you will always get a few that seem to ruin it for the majority of the group. Whenever I see another hiker defacing a trail or trashing it, I usually (politely) bring it to their attention. 99% of the times I get a positive response, as for the other 1%, I just continue along my way. When I return through the trail, I will try to the best of my ability, to correct or fix what the others have done. I always “leave it as I found it”.

11:31 a.m. on March 4, 2010 (EST)
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Horses and their riders are definitely a grin-and-bear-it issue for non-riders -- while horse hooves clearly cause more damage than human feet, in many cases the trail would not even exist if not for the efforts of horse owners.

12:54 p.m. on March 4, 2010 (EST)
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mi7..... (didn't James bond work for that organization?) -

Actually, there are many different trail users with different objectives, philosophies, interests, and so on. It isn't just day hikers, backpackers, equestrians, mountain bikers, trail bikes (the motorized kind), ATVs, etc etc. Among dayhikers, for example, there are photographers, bird watchers, families with little kids, "challenged" hikers, trail runners, geocachers, and many other varieties. We had a series of threads a while back arguing about people who hike leisurely and sort of wander along observing and enjoying the sights and sounds versus people moving rapidly along with their eyes focused only on the trail ahead. A couple of the "amblers" posting had physical limitations. There was discussion about keeping a "rhythm" vs "ambling".

Some people are out there for silence, some for companionship and conversation (I have encountered couples who were loudly trying to resolve interpersonal "issues"). Bird and animal watchers prefer silence so the watched critters are not scared away. Photographers are often trying to line up the "perfect shot".

Some of the uses are not compatible with others. Specifically, mechanical users (mountain bikes, trail bikes, ATVs) are very much non-compatible with muscle-powered users (equestrians and hikers), though in many places, they share the same trails (Mt Tamalpais, birthplace of mountain biking, is a location that foot and bike users share the trails, with equestrians having separate trails and motorized vehicles being barred from the trails).

Some of the hostility between equestrians and foot travellers is a societal one - buying and keeping a horse is a rich person's game. Plus a lot of horses these days are not really accustomed to people on foot. I have told the story on Trailspace about Jim S and I having an encounter with a packer and his clients in the Castle Valley area near Tehipite Valley - our white Spectra packs (Kelty Cloud series) somehow spooked the horses. On another occasion, I was collecting controls after an orienteering meet and had the stands in my pack, sticking up above my head - which spooked a couple horses, who apparently mistook me for some strange creature with big antennae. We used to have orienteering meets in Huddart Park, a park which is popular with equestrians. There were a number of incidents with advanced orienteers (who are off-trail a lot) bursting out of the redwoods across a trail at speed, spooking horses enough to throw their riders - the end result being that orienteering is no longer allowed in Huddart.

The thing is we are all users of the limited amount of open space remaining. So we all need to respect each other's activities and space. Where the activities are not compatible, the activities have to be separated. In the case of equestrians, animals are easily spooked, and most horses (and mules) these days are just not used to people. So the general rule on shared trails is for the foot travellers to step off the trail on the downhill side, stand still, and talk quietly to the riders so the animals can recognize that these creatures are humans and harmless. It is a lot harder to control a skittish horse than a human. The theory of the downhill stop, by the way, is that if the animal spooks, it will turn away from the strange apparition, meaning uphill, which is safer and more controllable than plunging over the steep downhill side. But always stop and ask the packer or rider which side is preferred. In the Sierra, I have encountered several packers in a day, some of whom said downhill (the convention) and some of whom said uphill.

6:47 p.m. on March 4, 2010 (EST)
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When I was in NZ, cairns were fairly common in some areas where the trail was through rock strewn areas and the trails were not marked at all otherwise. If I remember right, on one section of the Milford Track, there had been a huge slide that covered about a 1/4 mile of the track, so there were a couple of cairns along the way. I saw them on a few other tracks as well.

3:44 a.m. on March 5, 2010 (EST)
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I am definitely staying way far away from this 1......

2:10 a.m. on March 7, 2010 (EST)
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"mi7..... (didn't James bond work for that organization?)"

That was MI6, officially known now as the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service).

5:08 p.m. on March 7, 2010 (EST)
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Tom

I thought it was MIB...

Jim

6:40 p.m. on March 7, 2010 (EST)
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My personal two biggest peeves are:

-seeing garbage (ie plastic wrappers, bottles on/off trail)

-seeing used toilet paper [anywhere] but the worst is when it is on/in creek and river banks.

There are other things that tend to bother me. For instance, I hate having to leave a trail to hike around a pile of horse dung. I guess I should just avoid trails that allow horses.

Overall when I am out in the woods, I am very calm and at peace and usually don't have a care in the world, except looming rain (but with my new hardshell I don't think I will be bothered now).

All in all when it comes to people, I don't think any particular group of people bother me (ie dayhikers, bird watchers, talkers, walkers...etc). They are at least out there and taking in the world around them [responsibly, hopefully]. I think it is good to see as many people out there as I do because they are enjoying the finer things in life....the world!

D

7:26 p.m. on March 7, 2010 (EST)
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D & G says:
"There are other things that tend to bother me. For instance, I hate having to leave a trail to hike around a pile of horse dung. I guess I should just avoid trails that allow horses."

Pack it in pack it out I always say. Joking of course.

I think I'm fairly tolerant of other users, they do their thing and I do mine. I enjoy taking a moment to say hi and find out where people are from. If I can be of any help I glad to do so.

There will always be people out there that do not yet have good trail manners, that does not always mean they aren't good people. I think maybe it's kinda like visiting a different country, it may take a while to get into the groove. Not everyone out there has heard of LNT or has had someone in their lives to show them those principles.

I learned a lot of lessons my first year or two, one was to understand not everyone camps the same way I wanted to, nor does everyone enjoy peace and quiet. I'm sure I unintentionally do things that annoy people at times as well.

11:59 p.m. on March 7, 2010 (EST)
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Whenever I see another hiker defacing a trail or trashing it, I usually (politely) bring it to their attention. 99% of the times I get a positive response...

I think SIS and Trouthunter bring up good points. Often times it is just ignorance causing people to deface a trail/violate LNT policies. When I started hiking/backpacking, I would short-cut the trail, or I just wouldn't really be mindful of where I was walking, widening trails, trampling vegetation etc.


As for the day-hiker, backpacker thing, I hope this thread doesn't make me really self-conscious now. I generally stay the night, but sometimes I can't fit it in. So, that's why they were giving me the eye...

8:43 p.m. on March 12, 2010 (EST)
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Yeah, that is a good point you make Trout. Nonetheless it still bothers me to see (time after time) the same things on the trail. I know the people who regularly go into the woods tend to pick up the "good" habits of LNT, but the people who are from out of town to see a "cool waterfall" are the ones who tend to leave their Cheetoh bags and cigarette butts, which leave me with a grocery bag full of garbage that I take out (but didn't take in). I try to do my best to pick up when I am on the trail and wish more folks out there did the same. IMO as long as those who are out regularly do their best to "coach" or "train" the newbees, that is a great start. I learned about LNT from a guy I carpool to work with. He is about 20 years my senior and has been outdoors for about 35 years, so he is a wealth of knowledge for me when I first started backpacking. Heck, he still has good advice. I think that is important in our hobby.

D

8:58 p.m. on March 12, 2010 (EST)
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Yes, I'm not trying to make excuses for the few lazy slobs who decide to try hiking for whatever reason, some of them may be incorrigible if they've been living with the 'someone else will clean it up' attitude for a long time. I do think most reasonable people who are exposed to LNT practices will see the light, even if it is a process for them.

9:02 p.m. on March 12, 2010 (EST)
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I think people should also learn what small, lightweight camp shovels are used for. For goodness sake, I have even seen one called the "iPood"......

D

9:09 p.m. on March 12, 2010 (EST)
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HaHa!

Sometimes common sense isn't all that common it seems.

12:12 a.m. on March 18, 2010 (EDT)
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Good list...both of them. As someone who hikes trails with a dog off lead every day I really liked your choice of words about hiking with dogs. Thank you for acknowledging those who have a reliable recall and total control off lead.

Our group uses a command, "touch", when we come across other hikers. Each dog in our group not just returns to their owner in less than 5 or 6 seconds at the command, but physically touches their nose to the hand for a quick leash up to let the others pass. Then we unleash them and away we go until we come across the next group.

Good article...thanks, gerry

12:54 p.m. on March 18, 2010 (EDT)
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ALL DOGS AND HORSES MUST BE BANNED!!!

WE THE PEOPLE, DRIVE WAY THE HELL OUT TO THE WILDERNESS TO GET AWAY FROM GOD DAMN DOGS!!!

CAN I TAKE A CRAP INSIDE YOUR LIVING ROOM???

1:30 p.m. on March 18, 2010 (EDT)
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Oregon111,

I think everyone here would like to hear your constructive thoughts on the topic of animals in the backcountry.

Before sharing furthar, please take a moment to read the following: http://www.trailspace.com/about/community-rules.html

Thanks

2:01 p.m. on March 18, 2010 (EDT)
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The thing to do after you've typed out your all-caps rant is to hit the delete button instead of the post button. You'll feel 99% as good as you'd have if you'd have posted it, with none of the complications.

8:26 p.m. on March 18, 2010 (EDT)
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Okay oregon111, how about forum etiquette?

We the people who?

I drive out to the wilderness to get close to nature, including many different animals.

You sound like you have had some bad experiences.

1:12 a.m. on March 19, 2010 (EDT)
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I guess I fail to see how dogs and horses being "banned" qualifies as hiking etiquette in general. I am pretty sure I have seen threads on here in regards solely to the "hatred" of dogs and horses on the trail.

Oregon111,

I myself am not the biggest fan of dogs or horses but they have [with responsible owners!] just as much right to be in the, well, almost anywhere as you or I do.

If you are going to post on here, maybe we could calm down a bit and maybe explain why you feel the way you do and what might be done to mitigate the consequences.....just a thought

D

5:50 p.m. on March 19, 2010 (EDT)
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As tom says, if you are going to rant, press delete, it still makes you feel just as good.

That said, a huge number of trails were made by and for horse people and we get to use them. Just as many of our favorite hiking and snowshoeing trails were made by and for off trail motorised recreation and paid for by off road vehicle registration fees, yet we get to use them, and I might ad - for free.

A story. I took a guy on his first snow camping trip, actually a friend of Bill S. We were skiing down a snowmobile trail when two snowmobiles pass my friend and he fell down skiing with a 50 pound pack (hisfirst day of xcountry skiing with a pack). So Steve was face down in the snow and the two guys jump off their snowmobiles and (being big beefy guys) pick him up like a rag doll and set him on his feet, ask him if hes ok, then give him a push and pat him on the butt.

Jim S (:->)

2:03 a.m. on March 20, 2010 (EDT)
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Gee, no one ever gave me a pat on the butt when I was either day hiking or backpacking or slackpacking or scoping out way points or not waving my hiking poles around when the horse people were passing or calmly, nonjudgementally stepping over, not in (most of the time) horse poop and wishing I were riding up the mountain like these smart folks. As I was day hiking down Bright Angel in July 2 years ago, I "naturally" stepped aside to allow the ascenders a clear way out of Hell. Then, the only time I have ever become angry while hiking, I was dumbfounded by the number of people who blithly skipped down the middle of this wide trail making me, (sweaty, hot , slowly trudging up probably looking dazed) stop, step aside & let them run down. Finally, I did stop several of them and, fairly civily, tell them to move over when someone is coming up out of this canyon at high noon in July or any other time. Maybe Points of Hiking Etiquette should be posted along with the dangers of hiking although many people who hike must not be able to read? Be polite out there and if you can't be polite, be safe. Spider

7:38 p.m. on March 20, 2010 (EDT)
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I knew my Dayhiker thing would stir up the nest. I'm just surprised it took so long.

Sure, come on out, everybody has the right to be outdoors. I just wonder how it's humanly possible to enter near-paradise in the morning and leave the same day before dark. To me, and this is old Uncle Fungus talking, why torture myself with the dangling of the sweet grapes if I can't eat 'em?

Geez! I'm not taking my pack off to chat with you either. Whether I choose to day hike or thru-hike somewhere is certainly nobody's bizness.

It is possible to day hike with a friend who can't stay long. When my son comes through town on business he may only have Saturday to spend hiking.

Remember, hike your own hike.

7:52 p.m. on March 20, 2010 (EDT)
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Our group uses a command, "touch", when we come across other hikers. Each dog in our group not just returns to their owner in less than 5 or 6 seconds at the command, but physically touches their nose to the hand for a quick leash up to let the others pass. Then we unleash them and away we go until we come across the next group.

My dog is trained to heel off lead, but he's a service dog and is held to a higher standard. We often meet unleased dogs that are out of their owner's sight. Usually these dogs just try to sniff, which is ok. When they are aggressive I mace them. I am on the side of people who prefer not to have unwanted dog contacts in the back country. Imagine being knocked over by a strange dog while carrying a 50 lb pack. Most dog people don't understand the concept of boundaries. I think that dogs should not be outside of a six foot visual hiking radius with their owners, and should never make contact with strangers or other animals. This is not a rant. Just as horse folks keep total control of their animals, I expect dog people to do the same. I would be appalled if my dog ever got out of my sight and disturbed anyone--it would be his last hike. He is a massively large animal with a head like a black bear and could cause a heart attack to the unwary. He's happiest when he is working with me, at my side.

2:10 a.m. on March 25, 2010 (EDT)
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I think people should also learn what small, lightweight camp shovels are used for. For goodness sake, I have even seen one called the "iPood"......

D

I am the proud owner of one of those.. Very handy and works nicely!

9:30 a.m. on March 25, 2010 (EDT)
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1 Dogs: Hats off to the dog owner who not only had her big dog on a leash, it was muzzled. She said she was training her dog to hike on trails with her and was not sure how it would react to strangers passing so close to her on the trail. It was a friendly dog which I patted.

2 Trash: A ridgerunner (trail Maintainer) in Maine's "100 mile wilderness" was cleaning up around a shelter. She told me the most common liter she finds are the small plastic strips that one has to peel off band aids before applying them.

3 Day Hikers: Hiking north from Duncannon, PA on the AT one beautiful Sunday, I met over 60 people hiking towards me out for the day. I passed folks older than I, younger, groups, couples, solo hikers, families with young kids. One family was keeping their kids entertained by playing hike and seek. People in PA love to hike. Each group I passed were spaced far enough apart that until they were in the parking lots at trailheads probably thought they were hiking alone.

Although backpacking is a passion of mine, some of my most memorable hikes have been day hikes, sometimes alone, sometimes with family or other friends.

Aren't we all day hikers with the main difference being where we spend the night?

4 "One other thing I'll add, however, based on my observations of human-human interaction on the trail: If we don't allow ourselves to immediately assume the other person is intending to be rude or uncaring, but instead work from the assumption that the people we encounter are (generally, at least) themselves doing their level best to be kind and considerate, most interactions begin and end with genuine smiles. Assume the worst, and very often that's exactly what you get." Perry Clark above post.

Hiking with my daughter in a remote part of Vermont on the LT. Two guys would pass us, stop, we would pass them, then they would catch up and pass us. They had only small over-the-shoulder packs, two big dogs on short leashes, one wore combat trow, in short they looked "scruffy", unkempt day hikers. I was getting a bit concerned, actually decided not to stop for a break at a shelter to avoid them. Then I decided to talk to them. I caught one of them taking a picture of a plant and I asked about how he focused his camera on close-ups. My photos of flowers are almost always blurry, out of focus. I found out these "bad guys" were out photographing and collecting specimens of ferns.

I have countless stories of people I probably would otherwise avoid that turned out to be wonderful when I stopped along the trail or at a campsite to talk to them. In fact one of the most enjoyable parts of hiking have been other hikers I have met.

For example, I met a young guy on the JMT with a tattoo of the AT symbol on his leg. He had thru-hiked the AT was doing so on the JMT and had just gotten engaged on the top of Half Dome! I later met his fiance who was a delight, too.

99% have been positive encounters with others. The 1% was a guy in a shelter in the Smokies who talked passed mid-night mostly about himself.

He said he left school after high school, but his parents told him he could stay with them, if he ever went back to college. So, he did. After a month of living at home, his parents moved out! Finally he shut up and went to sleep. Only trouble was, he snored. He kept me awake when he was awake. He kept me awake when he was asleep. Worst night I had ever spent on the trail. Oh yes, I moved out of the shelter to get some sleep by the fire pit and it started to rain.

5 I've met horses on trails in the Smokies, JMT, Glacier Park and mules in the Grand Canyon. My mother told stories of family pack trips back in the 1920s with her father who died when she was only 10. Horses get people into the backcountry who might not be able to go otherwise. I met a small group of seniors hiking along the JMT with just day packs. Pack animals had gone ahead to set up camp. They might not have been able to enjoy that wonderful scenery if they had had to lug heavy packs. I bet some of them would have wonderful stories of backpacking in their younger days when equipment was a lot less high tech. I saw folks lounging in beach chairs along Lake Wanda (just below Muir Pass). One guy was complaining that the lake was too deep for good fishing. Oh well. At least they were not lounging around home in front of TV. Then again, lounging around home with a beer and TV can sound pretty good to me when I am soaking wet and shivering under a thin shelter in some god-forsaken wilderness.

A packer I met in Lone Pine told how one customer packed her things in a trunk because she read that is what the old-timers did. He packed it in for her. Talk to packers they have great stories. Would you ride a horse over some of those passes along the JMT?

6 Be careful with info you receive from other hikers coming your way on the trail. Info is often not accurate, even though they were well-intentioned when relating it. I know I have given wrong information out by mistake. Rather than ask, "how far?" I now ask "what time did you leave?" Ever notice a difference in what the word "steep" means to other hikers?

7 Re-read Bill S above (March 4) He writes:

"The thing is we are all users of the limited amount of open space remaining. So we all need to respect each other's activities and space." Amen.

11:23 a.m. on March 25, 2010 (EDT)
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8 Cairns:

Photo 1 Looking down on Cairns marking a trail along the top of tuckerman's Ravine, NH

Photo 2 On that rail with the cairns in the summer

Photo 3 Not cloud moving in that will soon obscur Mt. Washington

photo 4 I have stood approximately where those people are in the photo and was unable to see the train even though I could hear it.

photo 5 the train .. note cairn in right hand corner

Trail Crews spend hours rebuilding cairns that fall every winter.

I have climbed Mt. Katahdin, ME with visibility being only as far as the next cairn. They are sometimes literally life savers, especially in the winter. I know a story of one couple saved by cairns after being lost overnight above Tuckerman's ravine in a winter storm. One hiker perished in the same storm.

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1228483923045831896SMkQJt

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2389236550045831896BsiZir

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2695584970045831896kmEHHs

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1427240641045831896zGPNhj

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1427233121045831896bBUwmH


PS Day Hikes: a view from my favorite day hike: (yes, more cairns in view)

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1069665225045831896dpvTOb

12:32 a.m. on March 26, 2010 (EDT)
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It's been said before, but I'll say it again. Litter. Yes, litter. It's got to be my biggest pet peeve when out on the trail.

I am fortunate enough to live very close to a decent size creek with some well used foot paths along side it. Today I was walking along the creek, enjoying the sunny day when I spied a vodka bottle floating in the middle of the creek. Yes, that's right. An empty vodka bottle just floating downstream. So I waded out into the middle of the creek to grab it, then decided to continue upstream as I had a sneaking suspision there would be more. After about a quarter mile I stopped dead in my tracks.

There in front of me was a *tractor tire*. Yep, a tractor tire. *Full*, completely full, of trash. Potatoe chip bags, beer bottles, pork n bean cans, etc. Mind you, this tire was roughly 2 feet tall and I'd guess it to be roughly 5 feet in diameter. Must have been one heck of a party I'll tell you that. How they managed to get a tractor tire down there is anyone's guess. I certainly wasn't going to manage getting it out by myself.

So, I carried out as much as I could and when I got home I called the BLM (that's who owns the land) to see if they had any ideas for getting all this garbage removed. They told me over the phone that they would have to have an enire crew go down there to first remove the trash and then come back to roll the tire away. See, the only access to this location is a single track dirt path, so they can't just go in there with a dump truck.

This is our tax dollars hard at work folks. I really wish people would think more about what they're doing and who's going to have to clean up after them before they get it in their heads that dumping trash willy nilly is a good idea. And all this to avoid the $12 it takes to haul a load to the dump. I highly doubt all that trash was from some teenagers partying in one night.

Excuse the rant. I am stepping down from my soap box now.

6:31 a.m. on April 5, 2010 (EDT)
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Was aghast this last summer while camped up in Graveyard Lakes in the Sierras, west of the Silver Divide. I witnessed a group of six back country posers (they had to be, their behavior is otherwise inexplicable) who were horse packed in by an outfitter. They broke about every rule one could imagine. Doing dishes in the lake, as well as bathing (with soap), cleaning fish there too. Their boom box was at a medium roar whenever in camp; they rearranged their camp area, building a new fire pit, relocating boulders for furniture, etc. They were loud at night thanks to a fully stocked ice chest, preferring cowboy bonfires to Indian camp fires. While out day hiking they failed to yield right of way to up hill traffic, pack horses, etc. They had a dog that was given free run of the area; he marked my buddy’s tent, and terrorized most of the little critters in the area. Did not see what shape they left their camp, as we were on to other parts. Miss Manners had me button my lip, and I did too, but nearly bit it off doing so.
Ed

4:25 p.m. on July 23, 2010 (EDT)
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Wow, I object 100% to the person that chastised those that day hike! I injured both my knees as a forest fire fighter, and after 2 knee surgeries on both knees and 15 years recovery..I am back to hiking! But sorry, I can't carry a backpack anymore. I have every right to enjoy a day hike just as much as those who pack overnight.

And shame on those people who cut trails and cause erosion.

6:26 p.m. on July 23, 2010 (EDT)
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Wow, I object 100% to the person that chastised those that day hike! I injured both my knees as a forest fire fighter, and after 2 knee surgeries on both knees and 15 years recovery..I am back to hiking! But sorry, I can't carry a backpack anymore. I have every right to enjoy a day hike just as much as those who pack overnight.

And shame on those people who cut trails and cause erosion.

Do not even think about it there LindaS........ Everyone has an opinion and just like body parts we all have our own.

Enjoy your day-hiking. I sure do with my on-line group and site.

Getting out on even a close by trail is better than sitting in front of the TV on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

7:10 p.m. on July 23, 2010 (EDT)
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1. People who leave trash on the trail... just kills me. Mich and I always bring an extra bag along to pick up trail trash. I just can't understand how people who are out enjoying nature can at the same time trash it?


2, Doggy doo doo on the trail


3. trail runners who yell on "your right"... when in fact there is no room for them to be on my right and expecting me to step off trail with my 40lb pack so they can continue on their merry way.

6:26 p.m. on July 27, 2010 (EDT)
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This might get me flamed, but my biggest peeve currently is trail runners. I guess that I can understand how cool you feel tearing down the trail but my experience with them has been nothing but negative.

A few years ago, while hiking at Rainier with my family, a runner came down past us and rather than slow and yield (as etiquette suggests) he went off-trail up the slope, sending rocks and crap down on us and then tripped, cutting himself up pretty good. He had on some really nice REI clothes and brand-new hiking boots but had neglected to bring even a basic first-aid kit. My uncle patched him up and we were all very polite. We were polite again when we passed him four hours later on our descent as he was limping from a twisted ankle...

Recently I went up Mt. Si with some friends. This is an incredibly busy trail (I'm not sure I'll be back anytime soon) and repeatedly we had to practically leap out of the way as runners (again not yielding to uphill traffic) lurched down on us. What's the deal? It's like I'm supposed to concede to their desire to recklessly careen through the woods and since I'm not running, I should get the hell out of their way. Where did this ridiculous trend start and why do people think it makes them better than me and not beholden to basic trail etiquette?

If any of you have ever been up Mt. Si, it's 4 miles of straight uphill. Stopping when ascending can be murder when you're trying to get to one of the three flat spots to take a breather. Getting moving again after perching on the side of an embankment with even a 20lb pack (I was training) is not fun at all.

10:45 p.m. on July 27, 2010 (EDT)
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I think if I were a trail runner I would hope my fellow trail travelers would understand the discipline of running requires me to maintain a "running" pace, even in seemingly inappropriate places and colliding with convention.

I realize it's not the actual running that riles -- it's the expectation that everybody else will just step out of their way to suit them.

In this case the question comes down to who has the best, easiest way to accommodate the other. I've stepped out of the way of hundreds of mountain bikers simply because it made more sense for me, moving at 2.5 mph and in total control of my situation, to entertain the risk of stepping off the trail to let a bike rider pass.

It's easier for me to accommodate the speedster than it is for the speedster to accommodate me. I have no idea why people think they need to get their outdoor experiences over with in the fastest way possible, I just know they do.

It's OK to vent here; letting them get you riled out there, though, defeats the purpose of going.

11:09 p.m. on July 27, 2010 (EDT)
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If any of you have ever been up Mt. Si, it's 4 miles of straight uphill. Stopping when ascending can be murder when you're trying to get to one of the three flat spots to take a breather. Getting moving again after perching on the side of an embankment with even a 20lb pack (I was training) is not fun at all.

Stopping and then taking the next step can be murder?......... That is one I do not get............ If you do not like hiking with MTB'rs find different trails or do what I do and make your own.

4:34 a.m. on July 28, 2010 (EDT)
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It's not mountain bikers that bother me, they're not allowed on the trail. It's the guys going downhill. And if you've ever gotten into a rhythm going uphill you'd understand what I mean about having to stop and yield.

5:55 a.m. on July 28, 2010 (EDT)
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I think if I were a trail runner I would hope my fellow trail travelers would understand the discipline of running requires me to maintain a "running" pace, even in seemingly inappropriate places and colliding with convention...

Personally I think it would be arrogant (or ignorant) of any runner to justify their actions thusly. Why does the discipline of his (running) sport take precedence over the discipline of my (backpacking) sport, which also considers it proper form to maintain a steady pace as I attempt to schlep a 65 pound pack up hill?

I am pretty sure the speed one travels is not a consideration, regarding who yields in opposing traffic situations. In fact proper form mandates speed should not compromise safe passage, so runner boy should be reigning in the ponies a bit when he passes. Likewise the runner should give some consideration to where on the trail is passage possible, instead of bombing up upon you, forcing opposing traffic into a pedestrian game of chicken. You can also state this is a problem with some of the mountain bikers too, that don’t even so much as slow down to give you a chance to yield; however, I think that fraternity has done a more effective job at making their community better aware of etiquette and expectations, at least in our local mountains.

From what I recall pertainig to trail right-of-way, uphill generally has the right-of-way, all else being equal, but that livestock always has the right-of-way over all others, and bikers take precedence over foot traffic. I am not aware of a subdivision of foot traffic that gives right-of-way to runners over walkers. And in all cases both parties are obligated to the extent possible, to conduct pass bys safely, by choosing locations and maneuvers that minimize risk to others. Running downhill past someone with a full head of steam on a trail too narrow to accommodate two abreast fails to heed the fundamental underlying safety principle, not to mention is a trail faux pas, failing to yielding for uphill traffic.

Ed

6:47 a.m. on July 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Ah, now I understand the difference in perception: I spend half my time on uphills stopping and resting anyway. People moving absurdly fast downhill are an opportunity to step aside and catch a breather.

I concede the case for runners is less persuasive than the case for MTB'ers. My experience with riders is they recognize the inconvenience they create by bringing their bike along -- most will ring a bell or shout "on your left" or something as they approach and share a kindly "thanks" as they pass.

Just as an aside, I once heard a hiker say "uphill has the right of way, that's the way we do it on the ATV trails." Not being a trail motorist, I wasn't aware the convention was so widespread.

Does anybody know the source of the "uphill right of way" convention? Of course it has to be one direction or the other. My guess is it's from mountaineering, the idea being if you've already summitted, you step aside for those who haven't.

8:23 a.m. on July 31, 2010 (EDT)
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I have never heard that "uphillers" have the right of way, Tom. Interesting to read that. I too wonder how many others have heard of this or know where it came from.

1:40 p.m. on July 31, 2010 (EDT)
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I have not heard of the origin of the uphill has right-or-way rule, but was taught this in Boy Scouts back in the 1960s, and heard it reiterated several times since by guides and instructors. It’s a nice rule, especially for this old fart, since trying to get back into a steady pace can be particularly hard in the middle of a steep pitch. But the wise up-hiller is behooved to let the unschooled downhill have his way, when doing otherwise can jeopardize safety.

Ed

2:27 p.m. on July 31, 2010 (EDT)
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......... Ed will understand the word, "Gobbledygook"


Old word.

12:20 a.m. on August 1, 2010 (EDT)
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I know that word....

2:01 p.m. on August 13, 2010 (EDT)
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Iwould agree with most except the up hill right of way thing. At least for me I like to stop and catch my breath and let my old skinny legs rest so I gladly let down hillers keep a goin.

2:26 p.m. on August 13, 2010 (EDT)
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Educated guess: the "uphill right of way" convention probably goes back to the pre-automotive era to the horse-drawn era. I'm thinking about horses/mules/oxen pulling heavy loads uphill, and how much harder it would be to get them moving uphill again after they were stopped.

There's less utility for hikers most of the time, but there are crazy trails where it would make sense to follow the convention.

5:24 p.m. on August 13, 2010 (EDT)
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Iwould agree with most except the up hill right of way thing. At least for me I like to stop and catch my breath and let my old skinny legs rest so I gladly let down hillers keep a goin.

Just like many entitlements granted through etiquette, you may forego your right-of-way. I do so many times too. Nevertheless yielding to up hill bound hikers is the custom. There have been many times when lugging a pack heavy as a freight train I wish downhill bombers knew better, as trying to get back underway on a steep pitch hauling a big load takes more effort than continuing nonstop with a steady pace

8:06 p.m. on August 13, 2010 (EDT)
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The right of way rules for uphill vs downhill go back at least to the 17th century, though encounters with people, animals, carts, etc were rare enough that it rarely came up until the late 19th century. It's in Dan Beard's writings and the original version of the Scouting for Boys (both Baden-Powell's version in England and the later US version). The rationale is that someone heading downhill generally has more control and can spot turnouts more readily, plus this allows the uphill person to maintain momentum, while the downhill person or vehicle has gravity to assist in getting going again. The earliest cars often had to take a run at the hill to make it to the top, just as animal-pulled carts and wagons did. And if it necessary that one vehicle back up to let the other one past, it is safer and easier to back uphill than downhill - animal-pulled carts and wagons are really hard to back up, even on the level, with the hitches and traces often designed to only pull forward.

The rule for encountering horse-back riders is a bit different - the rule there is that the hiker can move out of the way more readily than the horse (or animal-drawn cart or wagon). Hence, the hiker should yield. On a hillside, the hiker should step to the downhill side and talk quietly with the rider or packer (assures the animal you are a human, hence safe), unless instructed otherwise by the rider or packer (I have had 2 packers from the same pack station give me opposite directions within 20 minutes of each other - when I asked the second packer about this, he said he would set the first packer straight). The reason is that if the animal shies, it will turn into the hillside and be safer than if it shies to the downhill direction (and hence likely out of control or over the cliff - I have seen this, luckily from a couple switchbacks away).

Right or left side of the road has a different history - turns out to depend on the way wagons and carts were constructed and the animals controlled back in the Middle Ages - did the controlling human sit on the seat of the cart or wagon with the whip in his right hand, or did he ride the lead animal in a pair or double line, usually on the left-hand animal, so he could control the team with his right hand?

10:24 a.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
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Right or wrong, when I`m out of breath and my legs are burning, I look for any excuse to stop. And its nice to socialise a little.

3:46 p.m. on August 15, 2010 (EDT)
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Right or wrong, when I`m out of breath and my legs are burning, I look for any excuse to stop. And its nice to socialise a little.

You are always right to defer the right-of-way going up or down hill. Yo are only guilty of bad manners when failing to yield to up hill traffic.
Ed

7:22 a.m. on September 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Yea but when one is going downhill there is more momentum from gravity so it should be a lot easier to nock the uphiller off the trail; knowing that is a possibility with the rampant growth of trail rage I would think it wise for the uphiller to step aside and wait his or her turn.

7:51 a.m. on September 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Hmm, I've been quite on this one, but it's timely, so I'll offer my .02 on the matter.

I feel that if a particular party is going fast enough downhill to knock an uphiller off the trail, they are simply going too fast in the first place. The article up for discussion here isn't about physics, it's about etiquette. Manners and custom dictate that the downhiller yields. That's the etiquette part. Being polite is rarely the easy way. Going out of ones way to allow another who is working harder than you to pass, is just good manners.

There are case-by-case exceptions, of course. For instance: If I am on an up hill slope and I see an older, more experienced person, or someone who looks like they are having a particular tough time of it, approaching from above, my upbringing dictates that I yield to him or her. On the converse, if someone is barreling down a hill toward me, there is a good chance I would announce my presence and, in a friendly manner, advise them to reign it in a bit - even if only for their own safety.

Very soon, I will be leading multiple groups of 30-50 6th graders on a short (1mile) trek to the top of the north lookout of Hawk Mountain to witness the wonder of Fall raptor migration. Those young naturalists-to-be will be instructed, in no uncertain terms, to move to the right when approached from the opposite direction, and to yield to ANYONE on a downhill path. They do this willingly. Hearing them pass a quiet "Move to the right." message down the ranks and see them hold up a silent "Stop" hand signal makes me feel like It's almost like a game to them. They enjoy it and like to feel polite once in a while. It does them good.

12:34 p.m. on September 1, 2010 (EDT)
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... For instance: If I am on an up hill slope and I see an older, more experienced person, or someone who looks like they are having a particular tough time of it, approaching from above, my upbringing dictates that I yield to him or her.

Wait a minute! What's this "older, experienced person...who looks like they are having a particular tough time"? Are you implying all us Old GreyBearded Ones have tough times? Wal, Sonny, y'all better watch out fer us Ancient Geezers. Ya might just get stuck with my hiking staff.

The general etiquette rules on the trail that have been around for decades, if not more than a century (to get semi-serious for a moment) are like this:

small group yields to large group (easier for 2 or 3 people to step off the trail than a group of 8 or 10)

downhill yields to uphill (harder to regain momentum heading uphill)

youth yield to age (we do this with the Scout hikes, and f_klock indicates above that he does this with his school groups)

hikers yield to equestrian (step off trail to the downhill side, unless the rider or packer indicates otherwise - I had an equestrian ask me to step off to the uphill side a couple days ago, and another later on the same trail tell me to just keep hiking at normal pace and not stop - the usual equestrian trail was closed that day for some reason and the rangers had detoured the riders onto a normally hikers-only trail).

bicyclists yield to both hikers and equestrians, or if trail is wide enough, slow to 5 mph or slower to pass hikers - always stop the bike for equestrians.

Do not go on trails where your mode of travel is posted as forbidden (we have trails in the parks around here which are equestrian only, biker only, hiker only).

When overtaken, step aside to let the faster person or group pass (I get overtaken every year on my favorite trail a few days before the Bay to Breakers run by Kenyans warming up for the B2B - they run the entire 10 miles and 2500 ft of elevation gain and loss in the time it takes me to hike about half-way up, and I hike fairly quickly!)

Basic rule - be nice and share the trails.

2:59 p.m. on September 1, 2010 (EDT)
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"Alright boys and girls lets move to our right to let....Oh, OK, never mind, that's Bill." :-)

7:27 a.m. on September 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Wow, thats a lot to remember. I think I`ll just air on the side of caution and step off no matter what, up or down, boyscouts, brownies, camel caravans, families of sasquatches. Generally at my age and decrepid physical statis it`s always good to take a break. Or maybe I`ll just switch to all bushwacking.

4:24 a.m. on September 3, 2010 (EDT)
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Eh.. about that vodker bottle...

My friends and I have taken a "luxury" item a few times and we use the stream to keep them cool. What's scary is we've found remains of fellow hikers who did the same, except they forgot their stash!

Speaking of liquor and the outdoors, I've been relocated to Juneau, Alaska and been hiking a lot around here. We have Forest Service & State DNR cabins all over. I've been voluntarily 'restocking' them with new fire extinguishers, trash bags, emergency food, etc... so I'm visiting them frequently. A few weeks ago we found not ONE but TWO cabins with multiple packs of beer (guess they were too drunk to pack them out) and spent a few hours cleaning up the fire ring (they decided that beer cans should melt in the fire..).

And just last weekend, we saw a guy with a wheel barrel holding a cooler along the trail (which is just barely passable on foot). Its starting to get wierd up here, and almost NO ONE has heard of LNT :( :(

While I think its AWESOME that the State DNR and USFS have all these cabins all over, I think its caused for lazy hikers/campers, as well as inexperienced folks and its showing. During the last hike, I think we hauled out over 25 pounds of garbage (NO JOKE).

(and yes, it was a day trip... as I run for cover)

7:30 a.m. on September 3, 2010 (EDT)
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...Speaking of liquor and the outdoors, I've been relocated to Juneau, Alaska and been hiking a lot around here. We have Forest Service & State DNR cabins all over... A few weeks ago we found not ONE but TWO cabins with multiple packs of beer (guess they were too drunk to pack them out) and spent a few hours cleaning up the fire ring (they decided that beer cans should melt in the fire..).

I've been told by friends (Honestly, I don't drink whatsoever) that when they woke up w/ a hangover on a camping (backpacking) trip they realized how stupid it was to carry all the extra weight in in the first place. Once properly hung-over, just the thought of carrying the leftover "luxury items" out was sickening to them. I guess this solidifies your point

11:44 a.m. on September 3, 2010 (EDT)
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I personally don't hike with anyone who would drink so much while backpacking that they would have a hongover in the morning. I would think that would fall under the "irresponsible" category. There are quite a few glasses in between "having a drink" and "hungover."

12:35 p.m. on September 3, 2010 (EDT)
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Plus carrying all that extra weight slows them down, and it leads to a frustrating hike if you are having to adjust for their reduced speed.! Figure 1 can of beer weighs 12 oz. A six pack is an extra 4.5 lbs. I myself would not waste the weight in the backpack, or the space!

1:36 p.m. on September 3, 2010 (EDT)
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Regarding hiking & liquor: I typically will take some wine and put it in a special bag rather than deal with the bottle.

Our last "luxury" item was some malibu rum and a small 6 pack of 12 oz cokes... was just enough to give us a nice buzz around the camp fire and the weight wasn't a whole lot to scream about.

Day hikers: What if a day hiker stuffed a pack to make it LOOK like they're backcountry camping? :)

4:16 p.m. on November 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Revere your brothers and sisters on the trail in the same manner you would any other unique creature you come across, 'cause every one of them is different and beautiful...Sometimes someone you meet on the trail may be out there because they've lost faith in their fellow man, and one small act of neighborly love and kindness may restore their hope in returning to civilization renewed and refreshed. 

I think the pooping near your water source thing is a result of cultural programming. In most cases, we're raised in homes where the toilet is alarmingly close to the place where we brush our teeth, wash our face, and rinse out our mouths. ;)

As for the bias against back packers and hike-in campers, I find that the response of others is positive and encouraging, especially when I take my 7 and 10 year olds. People really light up when they see children on the trail and in a good mood. Seeing the enthusiasm at which a child views the vastness and grandeur of the wilderness is one of life's true joys, whether it's your child or someone elses that you see while on the trail.

Our family trail etiquette is simple. It always starts with a smile and/or hello and a shift to the side of the trail for someone passing us, followed by well-wishes to them for the remainder of their trek.

The only time I've elicited strange looks is when I brought my younger brother on an overnighter through San Jacinto and he donned these track-tights I gave him in 1988 to summit the peak...mostly to play a joke on me and remind me of the color-crimes committed in that decade.

DSCN2591.jpg

DSCN2601.jpg

5:49 p.m. on November 1, 2010 (EDT)
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In Switzerland and other German-speaking mountain areas, virtually all hikers, whether out for the day or laden with climbing gear for one of the challenging climbs, greet everyone they pass with a phrase that translates roughly to "God's grace be with you". 

1:16 a.m. on November 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Strange, I was humored by some Italians remarking how you could determine country of origin, based on how oncoming hikers passed each other.  They described the Germans as “get out of my way I have a schedule to meet!”  And indeed that seemed the be the case, at least in the Southern Alps.  My fondest memories were the huts and people in Pyrenees; the Spanish are wonderful people and hosts.

Ed

3:12 a.m. on November 2, 2010 (EDT)
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In Switzerland and other German-speaking mountain areas, virtually all hikers, whether out for the day or laden with climbing gear for one of the challenging climbs, greet everyone they pass with a phrase that translates roughly to "God's grace be with you". 

In Nepal it's "namaste", meaning something like "I bow to you", palms together in front of the chest, fingers pointing upward, with a slight head nod or bow. That's etiquette!

Here in Norway people tend not to greet each other on the trail, I think as much out of a kind of shyness rather than unfriendliness, but occasionally someone may greet and even strike up a conversation. (Joke: "How can you tell a Norwegian likes you?" "He looks at your shoes rather than his.")

12:29 a.m. on November 4, 2010 (EDT)
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LOL BigRed...

When I was in Austria my friend told me that his Vienese neighbors talked to each other through their dogs. I didn't believe it until I tried saying hello to a few locals on his street during evening walk time (somewhat of a tradition in his area). Didn't even receive a smile or attempt at eye contact.

A few days later I tried again, but with my friend's dog in tow, and I hardly walked any appreciable distance because the neighbors kept asking the dog how he was doing and how he came upon a visitor from America. Eventually the dog gave me permission to answer on my own.

12:55 p.m. on November 4, 2010 (EDT)
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Brando:

The cold reception was due to your improper etiquete! Perhaps try wagging your tail or sniffing around, next time...

Ed

11:40 p.m. on November 4, 2010 (EDT)
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...or Bark with an Austrian accent instead of an American one. LOL

There is a lot of good debate on the "Trail Runner" issue on here, and as an avid trail runner I will choose a quick 1 hour trail over a 1 hour street run any day. More beauty than any sidewalk or street could ever have, plus the challenge of quick balance shifts and a total body workout from uneven surfaces. I'd like to be able to go on a hike, as some here have intimated I should be trying to do, but my schedule doesn't allow it.

As for etiquette as a trail runner, my fellow hikers and mtb'ers deserve my respect, whether that is yielding the trail to keep them safe or anouncing my arrival politely as I approach so as not to startle anyone. I might ad that this is particularly important if someone has a dog or is riding a horse.

My other pet peeve is the hiker, trailrunner, or mtb'er wearing headphones, eliminating aural interaction with his/her natural surroundings (which can perform beautiful symphonies of their own). Headphones blasting out music can put people in harms way should the wearers not hear a fellow trailgoer verbalizing a warning or request for help. I really have to slow my pace when I come upon such situations because they can't hear me and I may scare them or worse...

7:25 a.m. on November 5, 2010 (EDT)
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Those using headphones should pay a higher trail tax for the usage.

12:03 p.m. on November 14, 2010 (EST)
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What kills me is people think trail hikeing is an endurance race and just barreling through a trail. I also had 2 appalation trail crew members barely say hello when I was walking through with my brother. Hey it only takes 1 minute of your time to be polite and see how your trek went or is going. Just sayin!

12:05 p.m. on November 14, 2010 (EST)
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I appreciate that and run myself. Awesome for you to be so kind and understanding

9:44 a.m. on November 22, 2010 (EST)
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7:21 a.m. on November 23, 2010 (EST)
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Hey Alicia, I think you`re cute.

9:10 a.m. on November 23, 2010 (EST)
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What kills me is people think trail hikeing is an endurance race and just barreling through a trail. I also had 2 appalation trail crew members barely say hello when I was walking through with my brother. Hey it only takes 1 minute of your time to be polite and see how your trek went or is going. Just sayin!

Funny, I used to work on a trail crew on the AT in the WMNF in NH, and one of our guys used to get bothered when passing hikers wouldn't say hello to "the help". So sometimes if he didn't get a response the first time he would jump right in front of someone and yell "HELLOOO!" just to see what they would do.

My approach was to carry in a watermelon every once in a while and hand out pieces to passing hikers.

Xterro, dogs and especially puppies are great icebreakers here in Norway too. We never got so much trail talk here as in the first year we had our dog.

9:02 a.m. on November 29, 2010 (EST)
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Hey Alicia, I think you`re cute.

Thanks, Brad.

10:52 a.m. on November 29, 2010 (EST)
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(Chuckles)

10:53 a.m. on November 29, 2010 (EST)
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Big Red have to say that person sounds like a character! LOL Think I would have nejoyed watching that myself. Do love the sound of fresh fruit to passers by. Right nieghborly! was wondering if yourself and the others would be willing to give my some sound advise about doing the whole APT. Since you were a crew member. I would like to do the whole thing this summer. With Alicia's permission would love to start a new thread on it and have everyone's input. I live 2 miles from the only break in the Virgina section and have done alot of weekend work around here but would like to start in Ga. I just got the data book and want to start. Have a gooden Big Red!

12:20 p.m. on November 29, 2010 (EST)
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was wondering if yourself and the others would be willing to give my some sound advise about doing the whole APT. Since you were a crew member. I would like to do the whole thing this summer. With Alicia's permission would love to start a new thread on it and have everyone's input.

Go for it, Denis.

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