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Practical Practices in Mountain Etiquette

Part 3 of a Look Into Outdoor Etiquette and Outdoor Mindfulness

Emigration Canyon, SLC UT

My last article was a bit of an anger fueled rant. I’ve spent the last few hikes stewing about how terrible our whole outdoor trending society is, and it’s made the first half of each hike pretty negative. 

I’d like to focus this article more on the literal than the theoretical. Instead of “heighten your outdoor awareness”, this will focus more on “don’t rest in the middle of a heavily trafficked trail”.  These are things I intend to teach my own children, and things my father taught me during family and scout adventures.

The problem I’m finding, over the last couple of weeks, is that I don’t know how to write this without losing the meaning in the nitty gritty details. 

So where do we start? 

Real World Practices

Every morning, after I drop my bike and messenger bag off at work, I walk across the street to the grocery store. I go in for a drink, possibly some breakfast, and maybe a donut. 

The grocery store I go to is odd. It’s a franchise store, known for its excellent butcher department, cheese section, and local grocery selection. But this location specifically is smack in the middle of the downtown business district and, between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm, is literally crawling with Salt Lake City’s white shirt and tie wearing working class. 

Every single day I encounter slow moving people walking up or down the stairs, staring at the wall of beverages, or texting rather than advancing to the next cashier, who is inevitably shouting “NEXT!”

So, how does this relate to my point? 

Every single one of these adults will stop in the middle of a grocery store thoroughfare, walk the wrong direction down the stairs, or stop to talk with a colleague in the middle of the doorway. 

Also, every single one of these adults will shoot a nasty glare in your direction if you do the same. 

These are the very same people who will put on their brand new North Face puffy jacket, technical hiking pants, and Oakley sunglasses every single weekend and exhibit the exact same behaviors mentioned above whilst spending time hiking, biking, trail running, or camping. 

These people are raising children and they’re teaching those children, by example, how to act. And these very same people are complaining, verbally and non verbally, in person and on social media, about other people’s kids exhibiting the exact same behaviors they, themselves, are guilty of exhibiting. 

Stopping in the middle of a entryway or stairway? This is the same as stopping in the middle of a trail. Whether it’s to rest, snap a picture, or for any other reason, there’s no reason you can’t step off the trail to let other hikers pass. 

Walking the wrong way down the stairs? This is similar to hikers who don’t know or don’t care about the right of way rule. If you are hiking up the trail, downhill travelers get to wait for you to pass. If you are coming down the trail, you get to wait for the uphill hiker.  (For more on this, check out this site https://www.rei.com/blog/hike/trail-etiquette-who-has-the-right-of-way)

And what about the slow moving stair climbers in front of you? Politely say hello or excuse yourself as you quickly pass them. Everyone is at a different hiking level, and everyone should feel comfortable. But everyone should absolutely be mindful of other hikers. 

Spending time in the Wild is necessary for our well being. We all go there to find escape from our daily stresses. The working public I’m forced to navigate around need a place to go become more peaceful and regain their energy. 

We all have heard the call of the mountains. But until we all start practicing what we preach, until we stop thinking only of ourselves and nobody else, we’re all just gonna get angrier and angrier while we attempt to reach our wilderness destinations to snap our selfies. 

Lake Catherine, Brighton Utah

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