The dos and don’ts of trail etiquette
By Jacey Gibb, Distribution Manager
Great Inclinations is your go-to source for diving into the world of casual hiking in and around the Lower Mainland. Because hiking’s not just for assholes anymore.
Everyone has a different reason for strapping on some hiking boots and venturing out into the wilderness. They’re shared spaces, though, so it’s important to remember your personal reason for hiking isn’t necessarily going to be the same as everyone else’s. Here are a few things to be mindful of on your next outdoor adventure.
Leave your speaker/music device at home
Music in shared spaces is always a polarizing thing. The same people who blast their tunes at the beach or in the park for everyone to hear are likely going to be the same people who bring beats on the trail. Do everyone a favour and use headphones instead. Either that, or forgo packing any music for the hike and listen to the birds or nearby stream or whatever else Mother Nature’s soundboard has to offer. The majority of hikers aren’t interested in your musical tastes, so just leave the speaker at home.
While we’re at it, leave the drone at home too
Imagine you’ve reached the summit of a hike, and you’re just settling down to enjoy the views and some post-hike snacks, when an insistent whirring fills the air. Someone brought their drone, and instead of just taking in the scenery like a normal person, they’re dead-set on getting aerial views for some fucking reason. Putting aside the blatant privacy infringements that come with drones, they’re a noisy eyesore that taint any outdoor experience. Fortunately, I’ve been on many hikes where a drone shows up and someone else quickly yells, “Fuck off!” and their operator takes the cue and moves on or powers down.
Let people pass you
Trails attract hikers of every skill level. For some people, it might be their first time on a hike and they’re slowly clambering over stones; others know the trail by heart and can comfortably run it. If you notice hikers are trailing close behind you, step to the side and let them go past. Chances are they’re moving at a quicker pace and will appreciate going ahead of you. Similarly, if you’re part of a larger group and there are people behind you, give them the opportunity to scuttle ahead and get away from the congestion and noise.
Pack out what you pack in
The same courtesies that govern our city lives apply to the outdoors. Most trails are garbage can-free with signs asking hikers to “pack out what you pack in,” meaning any garbage you bring with you needs to leave with you too. Enjoying some celebratory snacks at the end of any hike is important though, so just make sure to bring a plastic bag with you to fill and then dispose of when you get back to civilization.
But seriously, pack out everything that you pack in
I wanted to expand on this for two reasons. The first is that I’ve been on hikes where people will toss their banana peels or other bits of organics into the woods and justify it by saying it’s organic and will break down. The problem with this is you’re leaving food waste for animals to find and increasing the likelihood that they will become comfortable around or dependent on humans. The second reason is dog poop. Quite a few bags are biodegradable now, but people interpret that as being okay to leave their crap bags along the trail because it breaks down. Just because it’s biodegradable doesn’t mean I want it impairing my view of the beautiful landscape, nor do I want to have to suffer the smell. Those bags aren’t airtight. Either have a separate plastic bag in your backpack so you can double-bag the poop and take it with you or stash it somewhere along the path where you’ll remember to take it with you on the way back down.