If I See You Do This in the Outdoors One More Time, Imma Flip My Sh*t
Alright, let’s just get this outta the way. This isn’t directed at tourists who only spend Memorial Day, Labor Day, and one week per summer in (Insert National Park Here).
No. This is for the climbers, backcountry skiers, camping enthusiasts, mountain bikers, and outdoor community in general. Those who spend most, if not all, of their weekends eating and breathing nature.
For the most part, you’re a wonderful bunch! Seriously. You practice Leave No Trace, you donate to environmental organizations, and you care (truly care) about protecting our wilderness and being a good outdoor citizen. However, no one is perfect. We make mistakes and slip up sometimes. It happens. But when it happens in my presence and I can tell that you (an avid outdoorsman or outdoors-woman know better), I wanna lose my shit.
Allow Your Aggressive Dog to Be Off-Leash (And “Forget” to Pick Up its Shiz)
It’s really simple. So simple. If your dog doesn’t like other dogs, put them on a leash. They will still enjoy the outdoors. In fact, they will be safer and you are less likely to get sued. Win-win.
Also, if they poop (as dogs tend to do frequently) pick it up. There are typically bags at trailheads. If you’re in the backcountry and you don’t have a bag, then either find a way to cart it out or bury it. Just don’t leave it.
What is the logic behind not leaving your dog’s crap everywhere? Well, first, if everyone allowed their animals to take poos near trails without cleaning it up, we would have a massive stinky poo problem. Second, your dog and its feces are not native to that environment, so their poo can disrupt the natural balance of that particular ecosystem. Finally, the scent can and will attract other animals. Like bears and mountain lions. I don’t think you want them poking around your camp just because your dog went number two, do you?
Not Following Right-of-Way and Pacing Norms on Trails
Ok, let’s talk about pacing. It’s very simple. If you are hiking faster than I am on a trail–FAN-FLIPPING-TASTIC! I applaud you! You must workout. Please, feel free to pass me like the effing road-runner. I won’t take it personally. What you should not…seriously, never…do is run up behind me and then just hang out, chatting with your hiking companion about your latest Tinder experience. I didn’t come to the outdoors to hear about your dating woes. Pass AND THEN be sure to stay ahead of me by maintaining a constant speed. Don’t pass me all gung-ho-like and then slow down so that I must, then, leap-frog you (and hear more about your shitty love life).
As for right-of-way, generally speaking, foot traffic always has the right-of-way while bikers, ATVs, and horses have a specific yielding order. If you remember nothing else, just remember that up-hill hikers get the green light. They’re in a rhythm and you already bested the section they’re working on, so give them some space and time by stepping slightly off-trail so they can pass.
Thinking the Outdoors Belongs to You (And Only You)
Recently, I was camping with a large group of people in the Colorado mountains. We were having one hell of a party. ATVs, mushroom hunting, hiking, well-behaved dogs, and (believe it or not) well-behaved children were present.
Since it was Memorial Day Weekend, we all accepted and expected to run into other people doing various outdoor activities. That’s just the way it goes on one of the busiest camping weekends of the year. A man whom the kiddos in our group met, however, seemed to have missed the memo. We’ll call him Meany McMeanerson. This fellow had set up his campsite near a VERY popular ATV and dirt bike trail. While the kids were riding their bikes, he emerged from his tent in quite an uproar and proceeded to chase them, yelling that they were disturbing his pristine wilderness experience.
First, if you want a pristine wilderness experience, go deep, deep, deep into the backcountry ESPECIALLY on popular camping weekends. Or maybe, MAYBE, just don’t be in Colorado ‘cause there’s already too many damned people here anyway.
Meany McMeanerson just wanted some peace and quiet but, sadly, he forgot that peace and quiet isn’t guaranteed to you in the outdoors, particularly when you are stupid enough to set up camp near an ATV trail.
So think before you plan your trip. What do you want out of your experience? Always keep in mind that this land is your land AND my land. If you want a private experience then buy some private property and stay there. Just don’t buy it in Colorado… Maybe Utah, yeah, Utah’s good.
Blaring Your Music All Over the Nature
I’m a hiker. Putting foot-to-earth is one of my many passions. I go to the trails to find clarity, to exercise, and commune with nature. That being said, hiking in the Colorado Front Range isn’t what it was five years ago. The trails have become quite crowded and I expect to see and encounter people when I hike. That’s ok. That’s cool. Not a problem!
What’s NOT ok is you ditching your earbuds and blaring T. Swift whilst trail running, hiking, biking, or whatever it is you happen to be doing on path that we are both trying to enjoy.
That said, if you must listen to music, ear-bud up! Now.
Being An Outdoor Elitist
As I said before, the outdoors belongs to us all. Not just you. I don’t care if you had 100 (plus) days skiing last season. I don’t care how much your bike costs or how many gnarly trails in Moab you’ve “epically” conquered, bro. So you’ve climbed El Cap? Good for you! Want a cookie?
There are thousands of amazing athletes and outdoor enthusiasts out there. I admire them (the athletes) and I’m one of them (the enthusiasts). But, living in Colorado, I’ve seen my fair-share of outdoorsy folk who think they’re a cut-above the rest and, therefore, believe they have more right to be in the outdoors than others.
News Flash. They don’t.
Whatever your speed or proficiency level, you have every right to be in the outdoors as long as you’re doing so as safely as possible while respecting others. We were all beginners once, so keep that in mind the next time you judge the novice climber next to you or the slow hiker going up their first 14er.
And to wrap it all up, in the words of Mya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better.” You’ve got this, outdoor folk. Adventure on!
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