The wilderness calls. But that doesn’t mean everyone’s ready to answer it. Here are some of the things I should have told fellow hikers (term used loosely) on the trail. 

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon

Dear Eurotravelers,

You traveled all the way from Europe to see the Grand Canyon. And once you arrived to the rim, someone spied the trailhead, and the siren song of the Bright Angel Trail started to pull you down into the canyon. I get that. But take a good, hard look at your footwear. You’re all wearing patent leather loafers and black socks (by the way, that’s how I knew you were European – it’s how we all knew). Yes, this part of the trail is paved, so it looks like an easy hike. But for every minute you spend on your descent, you’ll spend almost five on the way back up. I don’t care what kind of arch support you have in there, those tasseled slip-ons aren’t going to be doing you any favors.

P.S. I know it’s a cultural thing, but you’ll have to excuse me for sniggering. It’s just that fanny packs look so funny when you wear them in the front.

Grand Canyon

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon (same day, a half mile down the trail)

Dear Spring Breakers,

Even though all your classmates have chosen to spend Spring Break hanging out at the beach, you’ve chosen to visit one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. I admire that. But like your European fellow-travelers, you didn’t come prepared. Gravity will take you ten switchbacks down the trail when you’re in flip-flops. But uphill’s going to be different story. And you, in the tight skinny jeans – maybe you should have gone to the beach.

Zion Canyon

The Narrows, Zion Canyon

Dear Early Pitchers,

The Narrows are truly majestic, aren’t they? Oh, wait. You haven’t seen them yet…because we’re only three miles down the trail. But you’re pitching your tent anyway because you’re tired. Okay. But if you’re not too exhausted, you might want to re-pitch your tent on high ground. Sleeping one foot away from the river in flash-flood country isn’t in your best interest. Our group will probably finish the hike tomorrow afternoon if you have any mail you want us to post for you.

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park

Dear Walking Karaoke Machine,

Admittedly, you have a nice voice. And I know this is a very long trail. But “Old Man River” four times in a row? Really?

Havasupai Indian Reservation, Arizona

Dear Faux-Hikers,

Sure, I’d be happy to help you pitch your tent. And sure, we can be neighborly and swap stories. But here’s the thing. Our group did the 12-mile hike through the canyon. You flew in on the helicopter. I applaud the entrepreneurial spirit of the Havasupai Tribe. But come on. You cheated.

Buckskin Gulch, Utah-Arizona border

Dear Girl-My-Friend-Invited-Who-Dropped-My-Camera-In-The-Water-And-Ate-All-My-Jerky-Without-Saying-Thank-You,

Yes, I’m still mad about that.

Dear Andy,

You invited her. You still owe me a camera. Or at least some jerky.

Grand Canyon

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