Monday, July 2, 2018

Hiking and Trail Etiquette

Hiking on busy trails with other hikers: “It seems that many hikers—even experienced ones—may not know or always remember this, but hikers going uphill have the right of way. This is because in general hikers heading up an incline have a smaller field of vision and may also be in that ‘hiking rhythm’ zone and not in the mood to break their pace. Often an uphill hiker may let others come downhill while they take a breather, but remember that’s the uphill hiker’s call. If you’re about to pass another hiker from behind, a simple ‘hello’ is often the best way to announce your presence. Remember, many of us can zone out on those long, steep inclines! When passing, always stay on the trail to reduce erosion.” - REI.com

Family Hikes Are Fun Fitness

Walking, trailblazing, hiking, whatever you call it, it is communing with nature, and a sure-fire way for family-fun fitness. Put your best foot forward and take a walk on the wild side. Help your children discover a love and respect for the great outdoors. Get adventurous the healthy way.

Here are some tips to set off on the right foot: 

  • Plan hikes together. Look through guidebooks and maps; planning adventures together gets everyone excited about the upcoming event. 
  • Start with short hikes in familiar surroundings. Build up to more adventurous outings. 
  • Make sure you child’s equipment fits properly, especially shoes. Check frequently for blisters. 
  • Dress in layers. 
  • Show photos of plants and animals children may see during their hike so they know what to watch for. 
  • Teach trail etiquette before you go. 
  • Aim for shorter drives and longer hikes. 
  • Try to start early. Afternoon starts are harder on children. 
  • Every hiker should carry a whistle around their neck (on a lanyard).
  • Pack 1 & 1/2 times the amount of food you think you will need.
  • Don’t litter trails with trash or uneaten food.
  • Educate children about hiking hazards before hitting the trail. Make them aware of snakes, poison oak/ivy and the importance of hydration. 
  • Plan for bathroom needs. Take soap, towel and toilet paper. 
  • Don’t plan hikes around nap-time. 
  • Don’t allow children to carry too much weight. 
  • If children start to tire, play word games or sing funny songs. Distract them from the discomfort and play games to make it to the “next tree” (or another spotting). Set goals. “When we get to that next set of rocks, we’ll have some carrots.” 
  • Drink lots of water, even if the weather is cold.
  • Stay on marked trails. 
  • Encourage children to watch for wildlife. Tell them that the quieter they are, the more likely they are to spot the animals. 
  • Plan your hike around a spectacular ending (waterfall, picnic, etc.) What children generally enjoy: hikes around streams, ponds, waterfalls, “climbing things” and visible wildlife.
  • Hikers vs. Bikers – Since mountain bikes are considered more maneuverable than hikers’ legs, bikers are generally expected to yield to hikers on the trail. However, because those mountain bikes are often moving considerably faster than said legs, it’s usually easier for hikers to yield the right of way—especially if a mountain biker is huffing and puffing up a tough incline.
  • A biker should never expect a hiker to yield, though. Because mountain bikers move faster, hikers should also be aware of their surroundings on shared trails. Conscientious mountain bikers will call out as they come down steep slopes or blind switchbacks, and should also let you know if there are other bikers following them.
  • Hikers vs. Horses – As the largest, slowest-to-maneuver and (usually) least-predictable creatures on the trail, horses get the right of way from both hikers and mountain bikers. If you’re sharing the trail with equestrians, give them as wide a berth as possible and make sure not to make abrupt movements as they pass and talk calmly when approaching to avoid startling the animal.
  • If you’re on a narrow trail and horses (or mules) are passing, get off the trail on the downhill side as they trot by. Horses are more likely to run uphill than downhill when spooked, and you definitely don’t want to be in the path of a spooked horse.

Sources Coronado Eagle and Journal and REI.com

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia