A Thousand Flappers and Hobbledehoys

My name is Doug Wykstra, and this is some of the stuff I've read and watched.

Archives: Hiking Etiquette

Because this website is going to act as a comprehensive repository of all my internet writing, I’m transferring over my old work from previous blogs.  This post was originally published on 31 March 2013. These are still decent rules for hiking.

I took it easy on Good Friday (I want to write about the holiday somehow, but I’m not even sure where I’d start) and did a quick hike with a local church group around Sabino Canyon.  Well, it would have been quick, if we hadn’t been stopping at every watering hole and picnic bench along the way.  This is quickly turning into exactly the type of diary post I never want to write, so instead allow me to list this bitch out.  Okay, that didn’t make sense.  I’m going to make a list, the slightly-less-lazy writer’s friend.  I give you a hastily-compiled list of guidelines for hiking etiquette.

  1. Learn to shut up.
    I’m not an antisocial person- okay, that’s a lie, I totally am.  And even I like to talk to people on hikes- the scenery and sheer amount of time spent around everyone means that even an introvert like me can warm to someone after a few miles’ solid hiking on a trail- it’s a better social lubricant than alcohol.  The trick with lubricants, though, is that if they aren’t working, you don’t try to force it (hi Mom!  Stuff like this is why I didn’t tell you about my blog!).  Like Thoreau, I go to the woods (or the desert) to get away from the bothersome social conventions of the civilized world, so your stream of constant, inane chatter is not doing me any favors (Thoreau said it better).  One shouldn’t turn nature into one’s toilet, but neither should it become one’s salon.
  2. Don’t slow the group down
    If you’re in an area where there are a lot of mountain lion attacks, or the regular presence of other large predators, feel free to ignore this- your group should stick together, just remember that you’re not getting invited back if everyone has to stop and take a break on your account.  If you find yourself falling behind, insist that people leave you.  Tell them you’ll meet them at the destination, which is almost always an infinitely better place to wait than “on the trail every 2 minutes,” and if they want to keep your pace, you can rest easy in the knowledge that they are not sticking behind out of a sense of social obligation.
  3. Offer to lighten the load
    On the other side of things, if somebody in your group keeps falling back, make sure he has enough water and isn’t carrying too much.  Offer to take some of his stuff (all of this obviously still goes if it’s a girl–if anything, it goes double–but I’m not writing an academic paper for once, so I’m going to take advantage of non-P.C. pronouns), make sure he’s had something to eat and hasn’t reached his limit.  And whatever you do, don’t insist that he try to keep up with everyone else, unless you think carrying him out of the canyon will be more fun than walking a little slower.
  4. Downhill gets the right-of-way
    You run into a group going the opposite way.  Who is going uphill?  That group stops and lets the downhill group pass.  Every time.  Don’t waive this rule because one group is larger than another, or because you’re tired and could use a break, or for any other reason.  The regularity of such rules is important to maintaining trail safety.  If you meet doesn’t know this rule, educate them.  Don’t worry about looking like a dick; you’re in the wilderness, and can legally kill them with a rock (disclaimer: nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice).
  5. Don’t make strangers look at your dick or vagina if you can possibly help it
    Look, I’m not trying to insult your dick or/and vagina.  I’m sure you take great care of it and anyone would be lucky to get a look at it in its natural element.  But please find a place to pee where a group of Boy Scouts are not going to accidentally earn their Hairy-Crotchmonster-Watching merit badge.  If they’re on a camping trip, chances are their scoutmaster has already made sure they earned that one (seriously, mom.  Why are you still reading.)  Oh, and speaking of peeing…
  6. Pee in running water
    Nobody’s going to drink it, the running water will dilute it, and if you pee on the land, the whole area will smell like pee until at least the next rainstorm- and in the desert, that rainstorm isn’t coming for a long time.  Obviously try to pee downstream of your group’s most recent river crossing, too.Well, two posts in a row that resort to bathroom humor probably means I’m out of ideas.  I might add to this later, but for now I’m going to call it a night.

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This entry was posted on 31 March 2013 by in Great Outdoors and tagged .
March 2013

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