Craig Hill: What is proper etiquette for snowshoers on cross-country skiing trails?

Snowshoers and and Nordic skiers share many trails in Western Washington. It’s considered good form for snowshoers to stick to the edge of trails to avoid creating hazards for skiers.
Snowshoers and and Nordic skiers share many trails in Western Washington. It’s considered good form for snowshoers to stick to the edge of trails to avoid creating hazards for skiers. jmayor@thenewstribune.com

Answers to important questions nobody has asked me yet.

Q: What’s the correct way to snowshoe on groomed multi-use trails?

A: The Mount Tahoma Trail system near Ashford has a palatial groomed trail system open to skiers and snowshoers. On trail systems like these, there are expectations for how snowshoers should use these trail so they don’t create hazards for other users.

“Snowshoers should stay on the side of the trail,” said Michael Wenger of the Mount Tahoma Trail Association. “We try to reserve the center of the trail for skiers. That’s because when you are skiing, say down a hill, and there are snowshoe tracks, they (snowshoes) make these divots that can freeze. And those divots can be really dangerous.

“They (skiers) can catch the tip of their ski or the edge of their ski and they could fall.”

Wenger says it may seem inconvenient, but snowshoers should also walk single-file to minimize impact on the skiing surface. He says when he travels with large groups, they form lines on either side of the groomed trails.

When trails aren’t groomed, it’s considered good etiquette to not walk through tracks created by skiers.

On trails where groomers set tracks for classic cross-country skiing (the MTTA does not do this), snowshoers should avoid these tracks.

It’s also considered good form for skiers to fill in any divots they might create should they fall.

Also, Wenger said, it’s important to use skis or snowshoes on the trails. “If you boot up that also creates divots.”

Q: Does the state Capitol have a door mat for cleaning off hiking boots?

A: If not, state legislators might want to consider getting one before Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, approximately 200 hikers are descending on Olympia for the Washington Trails Association’s eighth Hiker Rally Day.

“This is our biggest turnout so far,” said Kindra Ramos, association spokeswoman. “We’ve had a remarkable response.”

The trail group capped the number of participants because of fire codes at the off-campus building where the event begins. There is a waiting list to join the rally, Ramos said.

The rally will be an orderly affair, Ramos said. It will start with a briefing on hiking issues and lobbying tips. This is to get participants ready for the afternoon.

“Everybody who is coming is meeting with their elected officials,” Ramos said. The association has arranged meetings with lawmakers from 43 districts.

“We just want to share with them how important hiking and trails are to us,” Ramos said. “It’s important.”

The Big Tent Outdoor Coalition Rally Day is also Wednesday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The Big Tent is a coalition of 45 outdoor organizations promoting outdoor recreation in Washington. The coalition was founded in 2012 in Tacoma.

The Big Tent Rally includes both outdoor industry and legislative presenters. It’s outside but chowder and coffee will be served to provide a little warmth. The event is free, but organizers ask that participants register at bigtentcoalition.info.

Q: What’s the trick to keeping older teens interested in Boy Scouts?

A: It’s not a new phenomenon that the deeper boys get into their teenage years, the more likely they are to lose interest in Boy Scouts.

The old saying used to describe this phenomenon: “They’re distracted by fumes. Car fumes and perfume.”

I recently talked to Tom Vogl, chief executive officer of The Mountaineers, about how to keep older teens interested in Scouts. Vogl used to be a scoutmaster and says his troop did well keeping older teens engaged.

He said he preferred to think of a different old saying: “Scouting is a game with a purpose.” These are the words of Boy Scouts founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell.

“For me, I tried to focus on making it fun and having these wonderful adventures backpacking or climbing,” Vogl said. “It’s not hard to get kids excited about that. I found they were less excited about uniforms and earning badges. But those activities provide a good learning opportunity for kids too. They learn skills and develop leadership, character and self-reliance.

“We didn’t put a whole lot of effort into the formality of uniforms and those kinds of things. But we were successful in getting a lot of kids to Eagle Scout and they ended up being pretty proud of what they learned along the way.

“So, I think Lord Baden-Powell got it right. It’s a game with a purpose.”