Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tips For Good Hiking Etiquette

Most enjoyable for life.

If you go hiking alone, no one cares if you are a slob. This has been proven by science.

Clouds of flies around your head. Bushy facial hair. Dusty, baggy pants. Sweat-stained shirts. Filthy, disintegrating footwear. Stinky, woolly armpits. All are acceptable if you are hiking alone, or only with your boyfriend.

But become part of a larger group and you need to meet a higher standard.

At a minimum you will be expected to know which side of the trail it is proper to walk on, how to navigate turns, how to pass safely, and what the various signs mean.

In some more popular, high-traffic areas you may need to take a hiking test before being allowed onto the trail, and will have to carry a license. Expect to demonstrate the proper use of lights, how to lace boots for various maneuvers (and which socks to wear), how to start and stop safely, and how to go uphill, downhill, and reverse your way out of danger.

Besides this, practice hand signals, so valuable in trail encounters. Many novice hikers get into needless trouble by inept use of gestures whose meanings they have not properly learned. Don't let that be you! Buy the guidebook and study with diligence.

But of course also, carry a stick. If you watch closely, you will see many hikers these days do this, possibly to deal with wandering rudeboys. (You never know!) Carry two, with points on them. Use vigorously if shouts and hand gestures prove ineffective.

Now, one thing is to maintain distance while hiking with others, to avoid bumper bouncing. Once again, your sticks (so handy!).

Safely hold pointed end while lightly probing your fore-buddy in small of back with handle. Closer is now impossible to get and all in group may maintain a brisk forward motion. Secondly, this prevents slovenly formations. Now you have it. March on boldly.

Blisters arise through improper use of footwear or from impure thoughts. Deal with these privately or experience shame.

Hiking over the exquisite outside of the country should be a matter of joy and improper boots will only supply you with frustrations. Remember that the longer the distance you go, the heavier your oboe will become. Perhaps it is better to carry a smaller instrument, or to whistle only. Whistling or a quiet humming sound can be quite enjoyable and much less bulky than wind instruments. Plus, easier to learn.

Your companions will be appreciative.

Ah, companions! Such wonderful times may be had with them!

Some, however, contemplating the various qualities of the terrain over which you will probably be mostly traversing, will say, "Dude! Impossible!" Do not take fright. This is only an affable expression of enthusiasm, most often used by the young, and perhaps includes only slight fear. Fear is a natural emotion. Oats are a natural food. See?

Once the good footwear is on all feet they will calm. It is all natural. Town folks can learn too. They will adapt while learning to walk. Maybe this is you?

Welcome! Have a new existence while walking.

When you are done, proper etiquette demands that you return home not only with your clothes in place, but also removing all waste. Remember this simple rule: Stuff it in, stuff it out. But so often there is regret among thoughtful hikers at finding traces of those who have gone before. A pile of chewed bones or discarded implements is never a welcome sight, let alone soiled or abandoned apparel. Please be aware to this.

Even a thing as wonderful and degraded as the toilet roll can still take too long to happen, so why not reverse the rolling and bring it back for your pets? Could be. A new toy for them.

If you lack a container, how about that now-empty water bottle? Hmmm? Or at the least bury the despicables near views to avoid clutter.

Warning: If in the badlands it is bad form to carry a boombox, and possibly too dry as well. Think it over.

Tip: If you are an unpleasant person to see, why not hike with your face down? Just saying.

Remember foremost in your head that respect for other walkers is most critical. They are too hard to avoid. There are simply too many, and frequently have pointed hiking sticks. This is a good reason to be polite. Try offering small snacks or treats, but beware of approaching their young, as mothers can be quite protective, aggressive even, or have diseases.

Mating season is also dangerous, especially if beer is involved, or wine. Please stay on the trail and do not investigate strange noises. A small red flag, carried inconspicuously in the pocket, can be placed to warn others of such hazards.

Likewise, there are other animals too, often having a plethora of hoofy feet or claws. These they use on unwary hikers to cause annoyance, or worse. In case you are preparing on hiking -- and the laws permit it -- proceed with caution. Avoid wildlife, especially large things that seem to be frowning, though this is sometimes hard to ascertain, so listen closely for cursing. That is a sure giveaway. Retreat.

Bears are large animals with teeth on one end. They are to be feared. Mountain lions also. You might try catnip. Who can say? Do your best to avoid annoying these, and even the less assertive wildlife. As a rule they all have secret appetites which may involve disagreeable practices.

You may have a pet at home, as a hobby. This is good, but please do not assume that wildlife will obey you. Wild animals quickly become frustrated and exhibit signs of mental distress. One of them by this means may become attached to you. Say to your leg. Removal is costly and you could receive a fine as well, so in general avoid upsetting animals.

Perhaps you can stay on the bus and have a nap. The seats are very soft there and air conditioning is available, with sandwiches. Nothing unreasonable can get in without a ticket, and you have a reading lamp. This could be a fine alternative.

Happy hiking to you and your compatriots!