I try to react like Ghandi when people break the hiking rules posted at every trailhead in the Phoenix metro area. I really do.
“Let it go….”
“Be the bigger person.”
“Don’t let it bother you.”
I mean, I’m a rule breaker myself on certain things. But I’ve learned I break rules on things that don’t affect other people. I guess I don’t sound flexible.
I am! I let stuff slide.
I say nothing when people go off the trail, trampling over all the fragile desert fauna to get that great picture when the sign specifically says “stay on the trail. I bite my tongue. People bring dogs on the trail when they’re not allowed and let them poop and leave it.
Not a peep.
I used to let that stuff go.
It only took one more runner to knock into me and then smear her sweaty shoulder across my face while trying to squeeze by.
Because you know what? Sometimes “turning the other cheek” is really “enabling” the behavior.
So I’ve started speaking up.
“Really embarrasing.” as my one friend described.
One said “Maybe they don’t know.”
I say they’re jerks. She says they’re “unaware.”
To me, being “unaware” isn’t an excuse for jerkish behavior. Both selfish as far as I’m concerned. And if you’re unaware, how about I make you aware? Win-Win right?
First a bit about hiking in the Valley.
I love it!! A lot of people love it. It’s unwind, mediation, me time. The quiet time to think, the breath taking scenery, the breath taking exercise….it’s my happy place. No matter what problems I have when I go up that mountain, they are not as bad when I come down. I really wish, from the bottom of my heart, that you try it. Hiking trails are peppered throughout the Phoenix metro area. The best part ….it’s FREE. Free!!!! In other states, people drive for miles to go for a hike and pay to get into the park. Other places it’s snowing and freezing and they’d kill to be able to go for a hike at any time of the day and drive less than 30 minutes to get to a trail. Are you kidding me??? Why aren’t we out there right now?!
Here are some things to be “aware” of
- PLEASE WEAR EARBUDS – People are now starting to wear backpacks with speakers in them playing their music. Here’s what I need to tell you. We don’t like your music. Even if we did, we like the quiet, serene, picturesque, peaceful experience we drove here for. These are the same people who pull up to a stop light with the windows rolled down and the music blaring or the base so loud the whole block reverberates. Hey I know you feel cool, but you look like an idiot. Trust me.
- HIKERS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY – Runners, I’m talking to you. There’s nothing more irritating to be in your place of zen and a runner runs up behind you and screams “On your Left.” I hear “left” and so I step left. (This is not how the girl runner ended up smearing her sweat across my face). Yes, it’s proper etiquette to say “On Your Left.” Not scream it. How about a nice “Hi” or quiet “Excuse me?” There’s this one guy, who wants you to stop, move over and let him run by so it doesn’t break his tempo. So he bellows “ON YOUR LEFT” from 100 yards away. Bellows. Screw you! I say!!! Quietly….with my inside voice…okay just in my mind. I haven’t stopped enabling him yet because he’s a little scary. Runners yield to hikers, so if the trail gets tight, it’s not about your run anymore. Slow down or stop and don’t expect anyone to move out of your way.
- STAY TO THE RIGHT – It’s just like driving a car. Let me clarify. It’s just like driving a car in North America.
- UPHILL HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY – Always. If you’re coming down hill in a narrow trail, you let them go first.
- STAY SINGLE FILE IF IT’S CROWDED – Love hiking with my friends. When I do, if someone is coming, I move to walk behind my friend, in single file, so there’s enough room for people on each side of the trail. Then when it’s clear, feel free to move back up beside your friend.
- ACKNOWLEDGE THE PERSON YOU WALK BY – People wonder why the world can’t get along and it’s the same people that don’t say anything when they pass another hiker. Let me paint the picture….a person is behind you, they walk up beside you , they are beside you for a good 10-20 seconds (that’s a looooong time) and then walk ahead of you. They say nothing. Not a peep. HELLO, you’re walking past a fellow human being. Were you born in a barn?! We are the friendly Southwest, dammit. Okay, Okay…I got it….maybe they didn’t know.
Well now you know about this little effort to help improve everyone’s hiking experience.
While I continue to struggle with walking the fine line between reaching for my inner Mother Theresa and not being an enabler, I hope you get a chance to get out there and experience these incredible trails we are so lucky to have here.