Heel Toe Express – Trail Etiquette For Hikers
It’s sometimes hard for people who are new to the trail to adjust to life on the hiking trail. Peace & quiet and great scenery are two of the big draws for hikers, but to be sure they can enjoy it – and others can continue to – there are some basic rules of etiquette that should be followed on the hiking trail.
First is one of the most basic rules – pack it in, pack it out. This is common sense, but unfortunately, you often see signs of people who don’t follow this rule when you’re on the trail. Water bottles, trash and other “disposable” items should always be packed back out when you’re done.
Even something as seemingly degradable as toilet paper should be packed back out with you if at all possible. If you don’t have a container to pack it out in, at the very least bury it to speed its breakdown and avoid cluttering the scenery with it.
One of the draws of hiking for many people is the peace and quiet of the wilderness. Respect for other hikers is important when you’re on the trail – keep your voice down and don’t hike with loud music blasting out of a boombox. Fortunately, with the popularity of iPods and other portable music players, it’s now much easier to enjoy music while hiking without disturbing other people.
Be sure to check local regulations about fires and camping before setting out, if either of these things are on your agenda. Most areas ban open campfires in the wilderness due to the risk of forest fires, and overnight camping is not allowed in many areas.
If you do plan on camping – and the regulations allow it – set up in an area that has an open spot for cooking and use a Coleman type stove to cook.
Avoid disturbing wildlife while on the trail. You’ll obviously want to avoid certain animals, like bears or mountain lions, but do your best to avoid disturbing less aggressive wildlife as well.
You want to avoid this for two reasons. First, disturbing them can have a negative effect on their natural habits and second, if they become too accustomed to human interaction, it can make them less able to cope with their natural environment.
It is especially important to avoid disturbing animals during mating season and when they are caring for their young. Even relatively docile wildlife can become extremely aggressive when they are protecting their young.