Hansen: There are many trails, but only one path to serenity

July 26, 2012|By David Hansen

There is a sign in the various wilderness areas of Laguna Beach showing a picture of a hiker, biker and a horse, asking that they all get along.

Unfortunately, no one sees the other. We only see ourselves.

If we hike, then it's our hiking trail. If we bike, get out of the way. And no one ever takes ownership of the horse for some reason.

It's the age we live in, the Finger Pointing Age (FPA).

Most agree the FPA started on Oct. 7, 1996, with the launch of the Fox News Channel.

Think about it. When did you first start hearing about red and blue states?



Like it or not, we have become bifurcated. There is very little gray or nuance or doubt. Few people admit they don't have everything figured out.

Similarly, we don't yield. A trail in the woods becomes our trail. And if someone encroaches in our space, we raise our fist and yell.

"There is some trail conflict," said Bill Porter, owner of "It's much like politics: A very small percentage of people monopolize it a lot of the time. Every group has their 10% that are not good representatives of the group."

Porter, who rates the various mountain bike trails around Orange County and surrounding areas, says no location has a monopoly on rudeness.

"You hear about the hateful hikers or the snobby equestrians or the crazy downhill mountain bikers or the environmentalists as well," he said. "The common ground they all share is they are looking for that natural outdoor experience."

The problem is no one agrees on the definition of "natural."

"So many people come to the parks to recharge their batteries and have a nice, tranquil experience, regardless if they're there to get their afternoon ride in, or to exercise or take a jog or hike," said John Gannaway, Orange County Parks Division manager.

Gannaway agrees that it's ironic when people get worked up at a park.

"They're there because of the beauty of the park and nature, wanting to be somewhere where they can gain perspective, relax and have time to think, enjoy the outdoors with friends and family, relieving the pressures of the day," he said. "Most of the time, you're here to relax and enjoy yourselves so why create more stress?"

But we do.

It's not always intolerance, but a lot of times it is. For some inexplicable reason, we feel entitled. Maybe we think it's "our" trail because it's in Laguna. Maybe our house abuts the greenbelt. Maybe we just don't like out-of-towners.

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