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Going off on your own trail.

Discussion in 'Trails' started by Lanna, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. Lanna

    Lanna Newbie

    On a March hike on a very popular mountain in the New England region (I'm slightly paranoid to give to much information about my location), my boyfriend and I decided to explore the area outside of the path. An older hiker (who didn't seem to be enjoying himself despite the beautiful view) scolded us for disturbing the natural wildlife. I had never heard of this before, and after reading the post here about trail etiquette and 2sweed's post about going off the trail, I'm not sure if it's really a big deal. We weren't purposely disturbing anything, we were just respectfully exploring the surrounding area. I feel like it's a much more modern idea to stay on a set path.

    So my question to you is: Do you think it's disrespectful to go off the path? Is it disturbing the natural wildlife of the area that should be left alone? Thanks for the input!
  2. 2sweed

    2sweed Natural Camper Staff Member

    Personally I think unless it is defined as a no no by the park or area rules, going off trail can be a rewarding adventure. Disturbing the wildlife is a bit much to scold a person about. The wildlife will move around you and unless you approach them at unsafe distances or feed the bears, the wildlife will blend in the forest and safely go there own way.

    Sometimes the problem of leaving a trail become an issue when the hiker does not carry out what he or she brings in. Littering is not good. Or going off the trail ends up an emergency issue that entails the need to be found and carried out of the forest.

    But if your interested enough to head off trail and have a compass and map of the area, and have told someone the general area that you will be in, I think going off trail is no different or able to disturb wildlife, then one would do by staying on the trail. The idea of hiking is exploring and learning, and seeing the great outdoors in fun and exciting new ways, and gives one memories that last a lifetime.

    Just be sure and come back and share parts of your adventures here.
  3. Lanna

    Lanna Newbie

    That's exactly how I feel! There definitely wasn't any posting about it anywhere. The only issue I can see with it is if it became an emergency issue like you mentioned.
    I'm glad to get some reassurance that what I do is okay. Sometimes I feel like I'm oblivious to obvious problems so it's good to hear that you think it's fine. Thanks :)
  4. campforums

    campforums Founder Staff Member

    Maybe he got mad at you guys because you were disturbing the wild life in his area? I know for sure that it isn't going to do any harm but its like if you are fishing and waiting for a bite to come on your line and someone goes by in a motor boat and scatters all the fish.

    ...either that, or he's just a big grouch :p
  5. bluemoonmama

    bluemoonmama Newbie

    Or if he was a bird watcher and had his "area" claimed. Most parks if they don't want you going off trail make that clear - with more than one sign along the trails. I agree with 2sweed that the biggest problem would be people that litter, but those people usually litter on the trial too. Another issue could be disturbing ground nesting birds, or other young animals - but again that is usually made clear with signs.

    I think as long as you aren't hacking out a new trail with an ax and stomping everything in site it shouldn't be problem, especially since it was just the two of you. Maybe if it had been some large group of people it would be a problem. Some people are just nit-picky and grumpy.
  6. Esperahol

    Esperahol Newbie

    I seldom stay on a trail, but I also don't tend to be in like a park or reserve. If I'm going off-track it tends to be in a truly undeveloped area. That said it could be that he was doing something like research or sketching and you guys kind of ruined it for him. It wasn't intentional, but I can see why he'd be annoyed.
  7. Lanna

    Lanna Newbie

    I wish I had all of you in my posse when I was being scolded by the grumpus! Thanks for reassuring me. I don't think he thought he had claimed the area, I just think he was a grouch like campforums said. He came up the trail after us so I don't think he was particularly fond of the area we were in. We ended up getting back on the trail as to not upset anyone, but now I know we don't have to.
    campforums likes this.
  8. Faust

    Faust Explorer

    Just be informed of the area you are in and respectful in your wake.

    Wild Roses grow around here, so my friends and I at least attempted not to stomp them, much.
    Though in early August I encountered Devils Club, this plant has oodles of thistles, even on it's leaves so I stomped them pretty good. If I could have avoided it I would have but that satanic plant looked fairly resilient.
  9. Esperahol

    Esperahol Newbie

    That's great, but in the future don't just ignore someone - I wouldn't want to accidently wander off a nearby cliff or something. It may be that some people just suck at communication rather than just being grumpy. So like Faust said be aware of your surroundings even as you go off trail.
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