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Thread: Is greeting other folks on trail with "Hi!" part of hiking etiquette?

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    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    Is greeting other folks on trail with "Hi!" part of hiking etiquette?

    Last week my wife joined me on a couple of hikes and she pointed out to me that many hikers either did not say anything when passing us, or when we said "Hi!" some of them replied back while others said nothing. I have never paid much attention to this but my wife is used to Polish hiking custom where hikers normally greet other hikers on the trail as a norm, with perhaps most busy trails being the exception to this rule. That made me wonder if there is any custom like this in NE, or perhaps we have totally wrong expectations when interacting with hikers that we don't know?

    To be fair we also met some hikers who actually were quite happy to go beyond simple greeting and we had a nice chat with them.

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    Senior Member Mohamed Ellozy's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, I usually do not greet hikers unless there is a reason ... kids running ahead (comment: too much energy!), leashing a dog (comment: I like dogs). But, in the States, not unless there is some sort of a reason

    In Switzerland, on the other hand, greeting hikers is the norm, and I do it. But I am dubious about the value of such greetings: Ships that pass in the night.

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    Senior Member richard's Avatar
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    I say something friendly to everyone who I cross paths with on the trails. I rarely don’t get a reply. If I don’t I’ll repeat my greeting and get a response.

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    I usually say hi to people, but it depends on the trail. A super busy trail becomes like a city sidewalk - impossible to have a real interaction with everyone. I also find that most people say hi back.
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    I say Hi to be social and also to acknowledge that I see them and determine who has the right of way. Most of the time one party or another has a way of stepping off a trail easier then the other one that does less impact. Sure there are various conflicting conventions on who has the right of way but the reality is on a tight trail there usually is a logical spot to step aside without widening out the treadway. It happens more often than I expect that folks will have the ear buds on, and will be clueless they are encountering someone on the trail. On occasion it makes for an awkward two step in less than an optimal spot. I do try give trail runners, many who use earbuds, the right of way when i can but on occasion I do take offense when I am expected to have to jump off the treadway into mud or into plants to allow a runner to go flying by.

    I also make it a practice to say Hi to any dogs on the trail especially the ones that are well ahead of the owners and may not be in control. It usually wakes the owner up to a possible interaction with someone who may not want attention from their dog and gives me an idea if the dog is friendly.

    I did have an encounter on the trail a few weeks ago with a dour stereotypical "outdoor dude" (he had the "lumbersexual" look down) and somewhat less dour "outdoor dudette". The trail like many was threaded with a couple of treadways, we said Hi and they barely acknowledged us with the dude borderline scowling. We stayed on an obvious up slope track to pass them without having either party to stop. After I passed the dude and as he was passing my female friend he muttered that we should be staying on the trail. Given its an old carriage road with typical washouts and bypasses around roots and rocks I found it odd since we were on a treadway but expect that he was having a bad day or under the mistaken impression that despite being on a popular public trail on a nice Friday in summer that he and the dudette might actually encounter someone else on the trail. I also wonder what he expected the outcome of this interaction was going to be, did he expect that we were going to stop right there and repent and swear that we would stick to his interpretation of the proper treadway for the rest of our hiking career?
    Last edited by peakbagger; 07-07-2019 at 08:30 AM.

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    Senior Member richard's Avatar
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    I’ve a few times encountered someone on the trail who I felt was somewhat rude after I tried being polite. I know I shouldn’t,and just move on,but I will try to politely correct them. So far, no problems.

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    Senior Member Puma concolor's Avatar
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    I have generally found that the friendliness/perceived friendliness of other hikers is directly proportional to both how deep you are in the backcountry and how busy the trail is.

    Generally speaking, if I’m way back there (say 6 or 8 miles in) and haven’t seen anyone for hours or all day, not only will my “hi” be returned but oftentimes entire conversations will ensue. Seeing someone else in such a circumstance is usually a good excuse to take a short break and compare notes. But if you’re only a mile or two in and the trail is busy, initiating a pleasantry is often wasted breath. If someone is in their own world and not even glancing in my direction, I’ll just keep on walking without saying anything. But I will NEVER not return a “hi” with something like “beautiful day” or “great to be out.”
    Last edited by Puma concolor; 07-07-2019 at 09:03 AM.

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    For me, it is all about eye contact. I look for eye contact and if the contact is made, then I will follow with a "good morning" or "good afternoon" More people on the trail = less eye contact. For Right of Way, I have never played by any specific rule and I have rarely been in a situation where right of way has been a problem in a tight trail space; I find most hikers to be respectful of each other.

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    Moderator Peakbagr's Avatar
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    I'm seldom on busy trails but if there's a lot of traffic, I look for eye contact and most people at least nod. With less hiker traffic I always say "hi" or 'Isn't it a Great Day". Always enjoy when people want to engage.
    "The fact that going off the deep end appears
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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Since I hike in a Thong people really avoid any eye contact with me let alone say "Hi". Only kidding. I agree it really depends on the trail. I think Puma concolor pretty much nailed it.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

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    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    I tried to mentally go over our hikes last week and I think we always got a reply while hiking in the Whites (it's just that most of the time we said "hi" first), while Acadia NP was a different kind of ball game, and that's where we got the silent treatment. This might be just one more experience pointing to a hypothesis that really busy places get different crowds.

    Backpacking in the past I found that once we were at least a day away from a trailhead the people seemed to be both friendly and quite happy to chat with us and sometime we got to hear some interesting stories from them.

    Also, I wonder if this custom of greeting hikers on trail in Poland is still the same as we remember it many years ago. Perhaps it was a relic of pre-cell phone days when hikers had to rely on others for help, but also felt obliged to help a fellow hiker who was in need. Nowadays, people can keep to themselves a lot more as they get used to their cell phone being an answer to any problem they face in life.

    Not to sound overly negative, my personal highlight of a trip to Acadia NP was spotting a tree-cavity nest of Great Crested Flycatcher - see the picture.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  12. #12
    Senior Member Mohamed Ellozy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iAmKrzys View Post
    Also, I wonder if this custom of greeting hikers on trail in Poland is still the same as we remember it many years ago. Perhaps it was a relic of pre-cell phone days when hikers had to rely on others for help, but also felt obliged to help a fellow hiker who was in need.
    I obviously know nothing about Poland, but hiking in Switzerland three or four years ago (well into the cellphone era) greetings were still a matter of course.

  13. #13
    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mohamed Ellozy View Post
    I obviously know nothing about Poland, but hiking in Switzerland three or four years ago (well into the cellphone era) greetings were still a matter of course.
    Perhaps that would be one more good reason to go and do some hiking in the Alps - a friend suggested that we do Tour du Mont Blanc ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_du_Mont_Blanc ) but given that it's 110 miles in distance and I am a slow hiker it seems like I would need more than a week to complete it. I could then try to verify if French and Italian hikers are as friendly as the Swiss!

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    When I hiked with my dog, everybody wanted to talk about him and pet him and it created a lot of positive interactions. Now that I'm back to hiking without him, I let each situation play out as it will. Typically, I say hello, it's just the polite thing to do. Now, if I find myself on a very busy trail, I play it by ear.

  15. #15
    Senior Member WhiteMTHike's Avatar
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    I say hello on the trails more than I do in the hallway at work. Being on the trails brings out the best in people.
    "The laborers day ends with the going down of the sun, and he is then free to
    devote himself to his chosen pursuit, independent of his labor and his
    employer". Henry David Thoreau

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