What’s the protocol when passing another hiker?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is it just me, or does it bug you when you pass someone on the trail and they don’t say hello, or even acknowledge your existence? I can understand not saying anything when you’re on a short, popular trail, with a ton people passing by every minute. But when you’re five miles deep in the backcountry, and there’s no one else around, I just think it’s impolite to ignore a fellow hiker.

Although this happens fairly often, I’m writing this specifically in reference to two guys that passed us on the Appalachian Trail near Spence Field a couple of weeks ago. Not only did they fail to acknowledge us, they didn’t even look at us!

I should point out that most people do say hello. There are many who will even start up a conversation for a minute or two. In fact, I love meeting people on the trail. As I’m sure is the case with most seasoned hikers, but I’ve meet quite a few interesting characters over the years while out on the trail. My wife and I once met several Buddhist monks from Vietnam, all dressed in traditional clothing, while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park several years ago. They were taking part in a Buddhist monk convention in Estes Park, and decided they wanted to do a little hiking while in the mountains. We chatted with a couple of them, and even had our picture taken with one of them. They were all very friendly. It was probably one of the most unique and memorable hikes that I’ve ever been on.

Last summer we ran into a guy at Ptarmigan Tunnel in Glacier National Park who could probably pursue a career as a stand-up comedian. He had the five us in stitches while telling some of his crazy hiking and camping stories from over the years.

Maybe it’s just a pet peeve of mine, and I’m certainly not trying to become the Miss Manners for “trail etiquette”, but it does bother me, to an extent, when people don’t say hello. Am I the only one?


1 comment

Anonymous said...

You're not the only one that feels that way. Usually hikers love to give you a heads up of any wildlife they may have seen, etc. I find it's happening more and more with the younger generations who only know who to talk via text.