Amateurs tend to think that hikers spend all day wandering freely among the hills. In fact, while wandering free of charge is possible (apart from exorbitant parking charges), wandering unhindered isn’t as easy as some might think. Blockages can occur almost anywhere, and encountering a hiker with a pained expression will usually mean that the root of the problem lies with a blockage. (Anyone encountering a hiker with a pained expression and partially obscured behind a tree should make themselves scarce. There are some types of blockage that other hikers just do not wish to know about.)
The joy and the frustration of hiking is that the surroundings may change on a daily basis. What was a clear path yesterday may today be completely blocked by a tangle of intertwined vegetation fed by seven hours of continuous rain overnight. As your equipment usually doesn’t include several pounds’ worth of explosives or a flamethrower, you may have to fall back on an appropriate tool in your Swiss Army knife (the falling back should be figurative, not literal). The alternative to clearing a blockage is simply to walk around the offending item, but this can take time. The worst blockages are the size of entire cities.
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Landowners who do not appreciate hikers crossing their land may decide to install their own blockages. This is illegal, and hikers can take action to clear the offending material – although moving several large canisters of highly toxic substances is best left to the experts.
A survey has revealed that hikers find their right of way blocked on a third of all the walks they undertake. You are therefore recommended to use the other two-thirds of rights of way, which are clear and problem-free. If you don’t complete a hike and want to save face, invent a suitable blockage.