A number of longtime hikers and naturalists I know have commented on how many new visitors they have seen on hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest. It’s understandable that people are rushing to the outdoors during this long pandemic, but sadly, some new visitors are not up to speed on etiquette on trails and in parks and wild places.
Friends hiking at Mount Hood had some unpleasant experiences with crowds and misbehaving hikers on the trails. Last summer I encountered a man urinating on the trail (at Mount Rainier).
This past Saturday, I passed a large school or church group, at least 60 or 70 people, on the Hummocks Trail at Mount St. Helens. None of them wore masks, even though they were close together while hiking. At least 15 of them wandered far off the trail right at a sign asking hikers to stay on the trail in the Mount St. Helens National Monument. I asked them several times to please return to the trail, but they refused. Please chaperones, teachers, youth counselors and leaders, instruct your students and/or group members on the kind of respectful behavior that’s appropriate on trails and in natural areas before we spoil these gems for future hikers and explorers.