Jun 18 2010
Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared on Hiking Boots Blog.
By Jeanette K.
Trail time means different things to different people. There are those who take hiking as seriously as a standardized test; others float across the forest as if they left their mind back at the trailhead.
Maybe for you, it’s all about something else completely.
Whether you’re new to the outdoors, returning from a long sabbatical or just an average trail junkie, there’s a good chance you’ll run into the following hikers at some point. Some are friendly; some not so much.
Subscribe to proper trail etiquette and greet each one with a warm smile or head nod, no matter how menacing they appear. Looks are deceiving, and someone with a ugly mug could give you vital advice like, “hey, there’s a giant bolder blocking the trail ahead” or “we just ran into a great grizzly a half mile ago—watch out!”
So it’s cruel (to yourself) not to be kind. Note: The following pictures are from Flickr’s Creative Commons, and the corresponding write up does not necessarily represent those pictured.
1. The Boy Scouts – These little trouble makers look like the kids from Stand by Me. Maybe they have no business being on the trail, but chances are their parents aren’t far behind. Update: The picture below is actually of cub scouts, not boy scouts. We apologize for any confusion.
2. The Awkward Couple – Are they brother and sister? Are they married? Did they just meet in the parking lot? Let these questions swirl while you bypass them with a friendly wave.
3. The Crazy College Kids – They tend to roam in large packs and participate in questionable and potentially even illegal activities. Aside from those attributes, they’re also the most friendly and welcoming.
4. The Mysterious Lady + Cute Puppy – Much like some mystical apparition, she glides across the leafy ground and acknowledges you just enough to make you wonder if she actually did. Then a baby dog pokes his head from her carrier, and you wonder if she even knows it’s there. You start to say something, and just like that, she’s gone.
5. The Hardcore Hikers – Much like that mysterious lady, they appear out of nowhere and immediately leave you in the dust. However, during your five-second encounter, they make you feel completely inferior on every level—from your clothes, to your hiking gear, to your floundering athletic ability.
6. The Drunk Guy – Yep, that’s a Budweiser and a cigarette. This guy either really knows how to have a good time, or you’ll see him further up the trail passed out.
7. The Prison Escapee – Nobody knows if he just busted out of jail in Shawshank fashion. But you’re on the trail alone with him now. Best to buck up, break into a cold sweat, say “hello” and an even faster “goodbye.”
8. The Sweet Older Couple – Proof that you can be active at any age. Older hikers inspire the younger, out-of-breath chaps to strive for a life of health and fitness.
9. The Out-of-Shape Dude – As he shuffles along the pathway, you cross your fingers and hope he doesn’t straight up collapse in front of you. Hurry up and pass him unless he is in really bad shape. If that’s the case, just offer the poor guy some water.
10. The Slow-Walking Family – They take up the entire trail and they don’t move out of the way even if they see you quickly approaching. The nerve!
11. The Benchwarmers – The harder the trail, the less likely it will be lined with cozy benches. For these folks, it’s like lazy moths to a couch-shaped flame.
Jeanette Kozlowski is the resident blogger for Cat5 Commerce, a niche retail operator. She spends most of the days monitoring the wires for new and exciting outdoors developments to share on Hiking Boots, an information and entertainment hub for the hiking community. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter at @jnetcat5.