Unfiltered Story #217725

, , , | Unfiltered | December 7, 2020

I volunteer in a nature preserve. As volunteers, our assignment is pretty much to walk the trails and make sure everyone is following the posted rules. There are only 2 ways onto the trails. At the start of each trail is a 4′ x 5′ sign that spells out what can and cannot be done and why. There are 5 more smaller signs, one where each path meets another. This is a small preserve. If one walked every single trail, one would clock in about 2.6 miles.
Being a preserve and not a park, the goal is to keep it in as natural a state as possible. Therefore, no pets are allowed and hiking is permitted only on the trails. The rest of the rules are also quite simple: no food, no camping, no collecting, no dumping.
One trail goes along a rock bluff looking down into the valley. Very often, people climb up the rocks at which point a volunteer will call out, “Please come back onto the trail.” Generally, folks do exactly that. We’ll reiterate that any traffic off the trails will likely damage the plant life and perhaps harm parts of an animal’s habitat.
Before today I only had one person be rude, and it was when I told him dogs were not permitted (there are 2 signs in the parking lot that state that before one even gets to the trail signs which also clearly say it).
But today I had this guy:
I see a small group on top of the cliff.
Me: Please, come back down to the trail.
Man: Silence.
Me: Please come back down to the trail.
Man: Who are you talking to?
Me:You.
Man: Why are you talking to me?
Me: Because you are off the trail. As the signs state, hikers must stick to the trail. Any traffic off the trails may…
Man: Where does this trail go?
Me: Nowhere. There is no trail up there.
Man: Where does that trail go?
Me: To the spring, up to the woods, across the meadow and back to the parking lot.
Man: Does this trail meet that one?
Me: No. There is no trail there. This is the trail. You’ll need to come down here.
He walked away.
I texted my supervisor and climbed up the rock crag that he had clearly gone up. He is up there with his wife and 7 children, probably all under 8.
Me: You’ll need to come back down to the trail.
Silence as he kept walking through the woods.
Me: It is very disturbing that you are teaching your children such disrespect for a nature area and disregard for rules in general.
Man: I’ll teach my kids what I like.
I climbed back down to the trail and walked towards the spring knowing that would be about the only other place he’d find it possible to climb back down.
That is indeed where he came down.
Man: Why were you yelling at me?
Me: I was not yelling at you. I called up to you to let you know you were off trail. You would have had to have passed at least 2 signs at that point that explain what is and is not allowed in the preserve.
Man: I didn’t see any signs.
Me:I have a picture of each, would you like to see them? (I pulled out my phone)
Man: A picture doesn’t help. I didn’t see them.
Me: (showing the picture on my phone). The first is 4′ x 5′ just a few feet onto the trail.
Man: I saw a sign that was 4′ x 5′.
Me: (I wanted to say, Did you read it? Instead I said,) It clearly spells out what is expected of visitors and explains that this a nature preserve, not a public park.
Man: And…?
Me: And to ignore the signs and the verbal directions of a volunteer shows disrespect for the preserve.
Man: Listen, I’ve gone to other countries to fight so that there is freedom to have places like this. That is how much respect I have. (He was wearing a USMC t-shirt)
Me: (I continued to talk with a very civil tone but was having none of this.) Your actions here show other wise.
Man: There is a trail up there.
Me: Clearly there isn’t. The four trails we have here are very clearly marked.
Man: There is a trail. It isn’t as wide or as clear as this but it is a trail.
Me: That would be an animal path.
Man: You act like we got some sort of orientation before coming here so know all the petty rules.
Me: There are only a few rules and they are clearly posted on each trail more than once.
Man: I only saw one sign.
Me: Which had the rules clearly posted on it.
Man: Who is your boss?
Me: She is on her way here now. She should be rounding that bend in just a moment. She will be escorting you out.
Man: I’ll talk to him when he gets here.
It was then that I knew what part of the problem was. Directions from a woman, and probably directions from a woman a tiny bit taller than him who did not seem at all fazed was not on his list of favorite things.
On cue, the ranger got there.
Man: This woman was rude to us. She wanted us to climb down somewhere dangerous.
Ranger: She explained to you that you were not where you were supposed to be. You could have climbed down the exact same place you climbed up. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.
Man: We are leaving.
Ranger: You’ll be going back the way you came but on the trail. That is the shortest way out.
Man: We’re going this way.
Ranger: No, that way is the shortest way.
Man: Do you have a map. I want to see which way is shorter.
Ranger: The way you came.
My supervisor is several inches shorter than me and would blow away in a strong breeze but she is the one who taught me how to keep my cool and just repeat the rules politely until the person chooses to follow directions.
He turned to me.
Man: Which way is shortest?
Me: She said this way.
Man: We didn’t damage anything up there.
(Right, cause 9 set of feet stomping off trail does nothing.) I said nothing to him.
Me: (Quietly to the ranger.) Do you want me to walk with you or lap the other way around?
Ranger: I think the two of us behind him will keep him moving.
Ranger: (after a little walking) You know he’s going to call and complain.
Me: Yes. But it doesn’t matter. I am always impressed with how well you keep your cool.
Ranger: Oh, good. This one got me a little riled. I was trying to stay as chill as you seemed.
Me: I’m only chill because I impersonate you on the trails.
Ranger: Okay then. Let’s enjoy the perp walk.
They did walk out without further incident for which I was quite thankful.