Hiking Etiquette

Day 1 – we waited with bated breath as the numbers were drawn for the next day’s ten hiking permits. Not ours.

Day 2 – an extra ball in the bingo-style draw. No go.

Day 3 – three numbers and the confidence it was ours. Not today.

Day 4 – the permit had to be ours. And it was.

Special places deserve respect. (Photo: M.Kopp)

Five days after arriving in this southwestern hiking region, we were on our way. In deference to the fact that this special location is worth discovering with a little effort, I’m not going to name names. The photo gives it away to those in the know.

Suffice it to say, this little hike is a geological treasure – one worthy of respect. After spending the better part of the day exploring the area, we meandered back out towards the cairned route.

Suddenly, we heard voices. Not just one or two, but many voices. Over the hill popped one person, then two, then 10 noisy individuals. Considering that we were three of the 10 permits given for the day, we knew something was wonky.

“Is this the way to the hike?” one fellow asked.

“It’s on your map,” we replied.

“Oh, we didn’t get a map,” he had the nerve to state.

“You get one when you get your permit,” we said, pointing to the tag wired to one of the backpacks.

“They didn’t have any when we got ours,” he lied straight up. And then he asked if it was far.

We lied and said yes. They turned around.

Leave No Trace principles suggest limiting hiking party sizes. My principles suggest you don’t poach trails with restricted access that is meant to preserve fragile environments.

What do you think?

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