Let's talk about trail etiquette
My friends, Jennifer and Brianna, and I climbed up to Camp Muir today on Mount Rainier. It's Labor Day weekend so we got a pretty early start to avoid the crowds and didn't really see too many people until we got back onto Paradise Trail on our way back down from Camp Muir later in the afternoon. We were already completely exhausted from the hike in general, but walking downhill is especially hard for me and the added frustration of the sheer quantity of people and the number of those people who completely lacked hiking etiquette and respect for the outdoors was appalling.
I understand that some of these things need to be taught. People who aren't outdoors all the time simply may be unaware of it, but sometimes it's just common sense. Regardless, I think it's important to gently and kindly educate people, even if their actions make you want to scream.
So here are a few things I saw that I'd like to address:
1. Be respectful of nature and follow signage along the trails.
I saw so many people stepping off the trail even when there were signs explicitly stating to not do so. When this happens, it erodes away the vegetation that parks are trying to help preserve and regrow. When nature is slowly eroded away from people trampling through them, future generations may not have the opportunity to enjoy the same beauty.
Signs are also there to protect you and keep you safe! There was a very young child playing on a snowfield attempting to cross over to rocks, but there was a melted out section under the edge of the snowfield and there were large, exposed rocks underneath. I was concerned and tried to guide him out. Had the snow been slushier, there's a good chance he could have stepped right through, hit the rocks underneath, and gotten seriously injured. His mother was a good 200 feet away and just laughed at the whole thing like there was no danger at all.
2. Don't hog the trail.
There's always debate of who should have the right of way. Generally, a good rule of thumb is that hikers going uphill have the right of way. But in today's case, both while we were going up and downhill, people were just dawdling in large groups, taking photos, literally standing around, and not moving out of the way when we were attempting to pass.
If you need a rest or want to take photos, please be courteous and step out of the way, single file, to allow people to pass - especially when they've announced their presence with an "excuse me," "pardon me," or "on your left!". The trail is for sharing!
I'm all about taking great photos while you're outdoors. It's a great way to capture memories without taking away from nature. However, I was narrowly missed by one too many selfie sticks today and I noticed so many people off the trail or dangling precariously over ledges to get that perfect shot. Don't risk your health or your life on a photo. It's just not worth it.