The 10 Commandments of Hiking

Cerro Castillo

No matter what religion you do or don’t follow, hikers share a common love of nature which came from something other than us humble humans. The biblical story of Moses says he saw a burning bush, went up a mountain and came back with some engraved stones. Now that was one trippy hike! So, what if, instead of containing the supposed rules for all mankind, it simply had the 10 commandments of hiking for us to follow when out in the woods?

Like me, you’ve probably broken one, if not all of these commandments. Fear not, as mere mortals we’re not perfect. Your penance is to now recite these commandments twenty times. Nothing like mind-numbing repetition to make you change your behaviour!

1. Thou shalt not bear false timings

As smug as you feel having reached the summit, on your return you will inevitably be asked by some desperate souls how far it is to the top. Your answer could make or break their spirit, yet you are still hyped on adrenaline from accomplishing your goals and likely to give the standard response of “Not far now!” Your vagueness is not appreciated here.

2. Thou shalt not commit too many selfies

The reversible lens on a smartphone has a lot to answer for. Friends and family know what you look like, and so should you. There’s no point including yourself in each and every picture. Compose your picture with the object you hiked all this way to see. Don’t worry, we’ll all believe you that you were actually there.

3. Remember the trail, to keep it sacred

The call of nature on the trail is inevitable. In fact, it was nature who called you out here in the first place right? Your fellow animals do their business out here so why not you? Well, they are often smaller, less frequent and don’t have a thing for curry. If you gotta go, you gotta go, but you gotta go far into the woods, bury the dead and keep away from any lakes or streams.

4. Honour thy flora and thy fauna

Wildlife loves it when us humans come to visit. Not only do we bring food they now depend on we also make them famous from all the close-up photographs we take. And, sticking to the trail will not only ensure your own survival but the survival of all the plants you’ll likely plough through. You can, of course, play the Bear Grylls card and claim it was for survival, the plants and animals will likely have the last laugh in this contest anyway!

5. Thou shalt not use a trekking pole in vain

Trekking poles provide stability on the steep rocky ground and are a respite for weary legs. They are not a zimmer frame for the outdoors, a stylish accessory or a pointing device. So stow them away when not essential to avoid spiking something or someone you weren’t intending to. Lastly, remember, the nearest hikers may be behind you!

6. Thou shalt not make unto a tree any graven image

It’s great you made it to the summit, lookout or whatever lofty endpoint you arrived at. However, those that come after you don’t need to know that ‘Billy was ‘ere’. Nor do they need to know that ‘JC hearts EH’. I’m sure you do but tell her that, not us. Graffiti is an art form, what you do is vandalism and if your only creative outlet is a tree, I’ll buy you an easel.

7. Thou shalt yield

Trails in the wilderness seldom allow for overtaking lanes. Step aside when you feel a fellow hiker breathing down your neck warmer and always give way to ascending hikers, you can see them well before they see you and they don’t need another excuse to stop! Ultimately, remember there are no medals handed out for reaching the summit first. In fact, you’re not first, many have come before you, see, even ‘Billy was ‘ere’!

8. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s Gore-Tex®

Out on the trails, you may often envy your fellow hikers brand new kit. Showing too much interest though can spark an endless conversation that will continue long after you’ve finished hiking. Also, if they have a completely new ‘everything’ they are likely not the best person to be taking gear advice from in the first place!

9. Thou shalt not be a firebug

Moses saw a burning bush and said it spoke to him. Instead of waiting for a forest fire to speak to you, put it out well in advance of it getting out of control. A campfire is an awesome part of camping in the wilderness, a bonfire though is a sure way for things to get out of hand. And, smokers, I’m not going to judge you, just hold on to your butts and we’ll all be OK.

10. Thou shalt not fly any drones before me

You’ve seen all those awesome drone videos and now have spent a month’s wage on a drone, now you take it everywhere. That’s great, but the novelty of oversized dragonflies buzzing around most major attractions has passed. Find a remote location for yourself and fly to your heart’s content.

Hopefully, these should keep you on the straight and narrow next time you wander out into the wilderness. For some new trails to check out, visit our list of hiking articles.

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About The Author


Ever since venturing out the back gate into the bush as a kid, I've had a curiosity to escape and explore as often as I could. It's fair to say that my curiosity has continued to grow instead of fade as the years go on. It eventually came time to turn a few scribbled notes into some legible stories and travel tips for anyone with a similar curiosity as me.

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