In these days of pestilence, when it’s too frightening to go to the gyms that are open, many have taken to our magnificent trails to get in a hike, jog or bike ride.
From one who has enjoyed the trails for decades, it’s safe to say that more people than ever have been on them this spring and summer. I believe many of us could benefit from a primer on appropriate trail etiquette. Following are some suggested rules of the road; all of these are based on actual incidents and sightings in just the past few weeks.
Most of you will become thirsty when exercising on the trail. It is wise to bring water along. But please do not leave your plastic water bottles on the trail or in the nearby brush. They are unsightly and plastic is bad for the environment. It may be possible to recycle these later. As a side note, those of you who feel it is fun to peel off the labels from these bottles should take them home to dispose of, as well.
A few of you might wish to bring along a bottle of wine or sparkling cider on your outing. Please take the glass bottle home with you and strongly consider recycling it.
Some of you will need nourishment. It is courteous to cart out the wrappers from your candy and protein bars. If you are lucky enough to have a cup of ice cream on your hike, why not take the empty cup to the first garbage can rather than leave it on a shrub? The ants will forgive you.
While eating these snacks, some pieces of food could get stuck between your teeth. As a result, a few of you will bring along flossing “harps” to dislodge these nuggets. I don’t discount the possibility that some of you simply like to floss on the trail, even if you don’t bring along snacks. In any case, it would be great if you didn’t leave these personal hygiene devices along the trail.
Speaking of personal hygiene, it has become apparent that some can not wait to relieve themselves in a way too gross for details in this family newspaper. Even if you are not carrying a camping shovel or a garden tool on your hike, please find a stick, etc. and bury this treasure.
It is great to take along one’s dog on a hike or even a bike ride. Along with our increased numbers on the trails, there has been a sharp rise in doggie number twos on the trail and right off to the side. I wish it was needless to say that these should be bagged and hauled to a trash bin. Fascinatingly, many understand the part about the bagging but don’t find it necessary to take the knotted bag away. Rule number two about number twos: hang onto the bag rather than leave it on the trail.
How about leashes? Do your dogs not need stinking leashes? I am usually reassured when you tell me how friendly your dog is, especially when they approach me and their saliva drips from my clothes.
Although it is usually illegal to smoke on the trails, I understand some folks are addicted to nicotine, and hence must sneak in a “coffin nail” when out and about in the foothills. Consider doing the rest of us (including the native fauna) a favor, and don’t leave the butts, filtered or unfiltered, on the trail.
We are stressed out in ways none of us could have ever anticipated. To let off steam, I realize some are behaving in ways that reflect this angst. Yet I have heard hikers and nearby golfers literally screaming the vilest expletives in earshot of others, including small children. Please watch your language and take it down a few notches.
With more cyclists and hikers on the trails, please be alert for one another. This will make it easier to not have to jump off to the side of the trail to get out of each other’s way, particularly as there is an abundance of poison ivy this time of year.
At the start of this plague, some comedian left the skeleton and skull of a young deer propped in a bush along the trail. While this was a suitably macabre reminder of the fragility of life, let’s think about not horrifying each other. The trail should be a pleasant escape.
Thanks for your attention to the above. As Roy Rogers and Dale Evans sang: Happy Trails to You!