Pillory: Oblivious Hikers

Pillory trail hikers

A lesson in trail manners.

Here in Montana, we consider ourselves friendly, neighborly folks. We wave on dirt roads, share precious real estate at campgrounds, and offer parking-lot beers to strangers. But for some reason, certain people tend to forget all that etiquette when face-to-face on local trails. That’s not to say that everyone’s a transgressor. In fact, most people aren’t—but all it takes is a handful to spoil things for everyone else. This spring, we’re sending those rotten apples to the pillory—and it’s quite the cast of characters.

First, there’s Radio Head: the jogger with noise-canceling headphones bopping along to Beyoncé, his body hogging the trail but his brain on a different planet. He’s oblivious to all audible queues, such as “On your left” or “Can I squeeze by you?” but then he acts shocked and indignant when a biker blows past—say, at a trail constriction or steep, rocky switchback—scaring the daylights out of him, and leaving both parties pissed off. Next time we run into a Radio Head, we’ll be armed with an airhorn to give him a minor heart attack and a reminder not to blast his beats on the trail.

Then there’s the Overworked Mom, who decides it’s a lovely day to take her three kids and border collie for a walk, then spends it catching up on work calls and turning the trail into her personal office. Meanwhile, her kids are pinballing across the trail and her dog nips happily at passing bikers and runners. If you want to work from home, work from home! We go outside to escape the nine-to-five, so for crying out loud, don’t bring it with you—keep your phone in your pocket and your brood under control. If not, we’ll slip ’em some Red Bull and flatten one of your tires—and film it for our new Netflix reality-TV special: “Trail Moms of Bozeman.”

Next up is D-Bag: the puppy lover who thoughtfully packs his pooch’s poop into plastic baggies, then leaves them strewn along the trail like gifts from an evil Easter Bunny. Does he think it’s someone else’s job to follow him on hands and knees to dispose of his gross goodie bags, or is this what passes for personal expression where he’s from in LA? More likely it’s pure negligence, in which case we’ll put him on a leash to sniff out those crappy care packages from all fours and learn a valuable lesson in proper waste-disposal.

Finally, there are all the Traffic Truants, who refuse to use common sense in yielding to others on the trail. Sure, we all know the pecking order—downhill defers to uphill, wheels yield to heels, and everyone makes way for horses. But if it’s easy to yield, then yield! If you’re a single hiker on a mellow section of trail, is it really that hard to step off for a few seconds to let the entire MSU bike team pass by? Lose the self-righteousness and remember that as an adult, you have what children don’t: discretion. Use it, and everyone will be a whole lot happier on the trails. Everyone who’s not stuck in the pillory, that is.