Guide to Outdoor Etiquette

Originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of SPOKE+BLOSSOM



Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed by our etiquette expert do not reflect the views of S+B staff. In fact, in most cases, we probably would advise doing the opposite of what is recommended here.

Q: I’ve seen some very well-known people this year enjoying Colorado ski vacations with their families. My wife gets embarrassed and pretends not to know me when I say hello to anyone famous. What are the rules when running into celebrities on the slopes? Should I continue to be friendly or pretend they don’t exist?

A: Say “hello” — who cares? Most are very friendly and don’t mind. After all, I’m told every starlet just wants a “normal guy with a good sense of humor,” but next thing you know, they’re filing a restraining order! They put their much more expensive, though not any better, snow pants on one leg at time just like us schlubs.
Be friendly; the world needs more of it. As for your wife being embarrassed and pretending not to know you ... BONUS!

Q: How far should you be from another fellow fly fishermen on the river? I’m new to the sport, and it seems that being far enough away so your lines don’t cross isn’t far enough from a courtesy perspective. What’s the unwritten rule on this?

A: A bit of life advice: never cross lines, streams or let anyone see your tackle. Capisce? For a more focused, but not necessarily better answer, I turn to the man who is more Mr. Quint than Mr. Quint ever was. Mr. Brown says, “Depends on the size of the river and number of anglers. Big rivers could be 50 yards, smaller rivers could be 20 yards or less. Be respectful. Additionally, it is okay to sit and wait for an angler to leave. If another angler is not fishing but watching a spot, ask if they are ‘resting’ the spot before you dive in. Best case, blow off work and fish on Wednesdays.” Mr. Brown is a wise man. Seek him for counsel.

Q: My girlfriend is convinced that mountain lions and bears are lurking in the woods, waiting to pounce on us the second we set foot on a trail. How can I convince her they actually don’t want to eat us?

A: Buddy, you have no idea how crazy she will be once she says, “I do.” It sounds like “Pam” has gotten in her ear and there may not be much you can do (I am glad to share my “Pam” theory with any man who buys me a drink, but I digress). Here are two options for you. Option one: leave her at home and enjoy the peace and quiet of the trail (I have a feeling you are going to “hear it” either way, so you might as well carve out a little you time). Option two: without telling her, mix up some water and red food coloring. Put it in a container marked “raw meat juice,” and when you’re at the furthest point from your car, douse her with it. She’s either going to calm down and enjoy the woods or you’re going to find a new girlfriend who likes to hike. Problem solved; seek Mr. Brown for counsel.

Q: Last summer, I saw a few people walking out of basin hikes with flower crowns and bouquets. What’s the best way to let visitors know it’s not okay to pick the wildflowers without sounding like a jerk?

A: Be a jerk. Maybe comment, “Wow, there must be lots of flowers for everyone to enjoy! I can’t wait to see the one left behind!”

Q: What is the deal with the stacks of rocks on trails?

A: Typically, they are trail markers. They are called cairn, from the Gaelic word cárn, meaning “heap of stones.” Who really cares though; did you see I figured out how to get the accent mark over the “a” above? Á BOOM! Did it again in capital letter form. I, like van Gogh, will probably only be appreciated in death.

S+B StaffGrand Outdoors