Bring back hiking etiquette

corona arch
Corona Arch is an iconic sight in the Moab area. Photograph courtesy of Ben Godwin/Wikimedia Commons

Editor,

Today my husband and I hiked a favorite trail – Corona Arch. We live in Virginia but try to come to Moab for several days every year. The dust of the red rocks can be washed out of my socks and pants but not my heart. Yet today the hike didn’t quite meet my expectations. In fact it may have fallen off my list.

We arrived in the parking lot and started up the trail just before two family groups traveling together. They had teens to young children and were all hiking in sneakers and Vans, slipping and sliding on the loose rock but enjoying jumping from rock to rock when that was an option. I was happy to see parents hiking with their children, enjoying being outdoors.

But what about the rest of us? For much of the three hours in the area I heard yelling. “Ethan! Ethan! Come here! I want to get a picture!” Again and again. And again and again. I heard small groups in various places repeatedly yelling a variety of words including “Echo!” attempting to hear the echoes. And at the arch I waited. And waited. And waited some more for our chance to get that iconic photo under the arch to add to my Christmas letter. What has happened to the quiet appreciation of nature? Muted voices as we stand in awe of what surrounds us? The awareness of others and respect for their rights to share in the experience?

Please, if you have children, teens, grandchildren, take them on a hike. But teach them to moderate their voices by example. Teach them to smile at the person they pass on the trail. Teach them to take their photos and then look around to see if someone else is respectfully and patiently staying out of their way but waiting for their own opportunity to capture that iconic photo.

The hike to Corona Arch is not one for those seeking solitude, but it need not feel like you’re in a loud sports arena either. These spaces are for all of us to enjoy, whether you have a son named Ethan like that mom or a grandson named Ethan like I do.

– Barbara Q. Lifland
Virginia Beach, Virginia