Etiquette: sounds like something to do with teapots,doilies, and lace tablecloths. But actually, it has a lot to do with trail running. And with any other activity where you have to share facilities with other people.
In college, I swam many laps in the school pool. You learn quickly that there are unspoken rules about sharing swim lanes. If you are getting into a lane with one swimmer already in it, it’s polite to ask if they would like to have their own side, or always stay to the right. If there are 2 or more in the lane when you start swimming, everyone stays to the right and turns counterclockwise. No crashes that way!
When I ran track workouts in my early 30’s, we shared the track with other runners, and walkers. There was a sign posted on the fence that told everyone which direction to go, counterclockwise, just like in the pool. The fastest runner gets the inside lane, and a runner approaching from behind wanting to pass, calls out “Track”. The slower runner moves to the outside , and makes space for passing.
The trails are an even bigger space, shared by many more people. And those of us lucky enough to have easy access to trails, need to be courteous to other people we meet out there. I learned early in my trail racing career, that just like on the track, you yield to the faster runner. That means that on an out and back course, someone heading back from the turn-around, or downhill in either direction, gets the right of way. If you come up behind a slower runner, and want to pass, you call out “On your left (Or right, as the case may be)” and they should pull over and make room.Usually, this is not a problem. But I have vivid memories of being the slower (and afraid of heights) runner, at Seven Sisters, and having to hang over a long drop to the river while the fast guys passed me.
At Hodges Village Dam, where I do most of my running, you can meet many different kinds of trail users at all different times of year: walkers, runners, bicyclists, snowshoers, cross country skiers, snowmobilers, motorcycle guys, hunters, bird watchers, horseback riders, dog walkers, and sometimes Eric sitting in the middle of the trail taking pictures. For the most part, everyone follows the same rules of courtesy. You generally yield to the faster person. This means walkers move out of the way for runners, who move for bikers, who move for motorcycle guys. And we all move aside for horses, cause who is going to argue with something that big.
Some people are easy to move for. Motorcycle guys and snowmobilers make a lot of noise, so you can hear
them and get out of the way in plenty of time. Cross country skiers, on the other hand, sneak up on you silently, and then try not to run you down! And then there are the turkey hunters!! First, why would anybody hunt in the spring, when everything is hungry and scrawny from the winter? And you think of hunters as wearing orange, so as to be seen. But turkey hunters hide in the brush, wearing full camouflage, and yell at everyone for scaring away the turkeys. Sometimes, they shoot each other because they are all camouflaged. Seems like a bad idea to me.
My least favorite people to share trails with are dog walkers. These people seem to think that just because they dote on their animals, that we should all want to to play with them. Wrong!! The Army Corps of Engineers has pages of rules about use of recreation areas. You can find them here: USACE. The rules state that animals brought into developed recreation areas must be penned, caged, leashed, or controlled. And that nobody shall let their animal impede or restrict otherwise free and full use of project land by the public. So leash your d*^m dog!! Okay, that’s my dog rant, but really, please leash your animal.
In almost 20 years of running trails, most of the people I have met have been at least courteous, often friendly and talkative. Many dog walkers let their animals chase the rest of us down, and some bird watchers yell at groups of runners for making too much noise. But fortunately, these are the exceptions. So, go out in the woods, run around or ride your bike, and remember to share the trails 🙂