There are certain unwritten rules governing the behavior of outdoor travel that every enthusiast should observe. The rules of the trail have been adapted for a wide variety of outdoor pursuits, from ski trails to hiking trails, raging rivers to placid stillwaters, and from the soaring cliffs to the imposing darkness of unexplored caves.
In nearly every case, the proper etiquette is merely to extend the simple politeness to ask about any formal rules of conduct to insure no one is offended.
However, when applied to activities such as hunting, whitewater paddling and rock climbing, the strict adherence to established etiquette and camp procedures is often necessary to protect life and limb.
Most of the usual rules are just common sense guidelines to deal with issues such as travel behavior, minimum impact camping techniques, fire safety, animal encounters and cleanliness or sanitation concerns.
Although it is expected that most travelers know better than to wash dishes, clothes or bathe in the same waters they use for drinking or cooking; it is not always the case.
Similar sanitation concerns regarding the disposal of human waste are often evidenced by the disgusting ‘toilet paper flowers’ that sprout around Adirondack shelters, whether in the mountains or on the lakes.
Most outdoor enthusiasts understand the necessity of protecting our recreational resources and as a result, they are often willing to spend their time restoring, enhancing and conserving natural resources for the benefit of all.
One of the most pressing issues in the process of instilling the concept of outdoor etiquette is the availability of experienced mentors. More than 95 percent of all outdoor travelers surveyed indicate they continue to enjoy the woods and waters because ‘someone’ once took the time to introduce them to the sport.
The pinnacle of a proper outdoor career is considered complete, only after a participant has achieved the accomplishment of mentoring at least one novice to the rank of an experienced sportsmen, or women.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.