Anyone who knows me knows that one of my favorite things to do with my free time is to get out into nature. A day where I see more critters than people is a good day in my book.

It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s that … OK, it is, in fact, that I don’t like people.

OK, not all people. In fact, not most people. It’s the handful of people who absolutely ruin the wonderful things in life by being just awful.

I experienced this recently when I went to a nature area near where I live. This particular area has been closed for years due to flooding from several of the big storms that have hit the Charleston area over the past few years. I have tromped most of the areas in my vicinity, so I was excited when this place reopened recently.

My son and I traveled there on a Sunday afternoon, excited to take in a new nature spot.

And I will say that I loved, loved, loved 80% of our walk and for that part of the hike, I would like to thank mosquitoes and spiders for eliminating most of the other walkers. I’ll gladly take a face full of spider web to keep out some of the other folks who sullied part of our walk.

The place we went has about 3.5 miles of trails to walk. It’s a beautiful cypress swamp with wonderful trails that loop throughout the facility. But that first half mile? Several pockets of folks who have no business coming to a beautiful place such as that. They don’t appreciate it. They don’t respect it. And thus they don’t deserve it.

Among the various behaviors:

  • Screaming to each other with inappropriate jokes and comments
  • Harassing alligators by throwing things at them
  • Carving into a tree

Now I know you might be wondering what I did or said to the various offenders. And the answer is nothing. I have gotten to the point in life where I choose to pick my battles and these are not battles I want to pick, especially when my son is with me. There is probably nothing positive that will come out of me approaching a large group and asking them to stop swearing or to stop throwing sticks at an alligator. But, I do have a column. So I’ll do it here.

I am always one to encourage people to get into nature. I love being out on the trails more than anything and it just makes me sad that some people can’t appreciate it. I doubt that the folks who were out there making it unpleasant for others will ever read this, but on the off chance they do:

  • Please be quiet. There is no reason to shout. You’re out in nature. You want to see it? Then don’t give it a 400-yard warning that you’re coming. I am fairly sure that had the cypress trees had the ability, they’d have fled these folks.
  • It seems like it shouldn’t have to be said, but don’t throw things at animals, unless you are a boomerang hunter.
  • No tree has ever been improved by having your initials carved into it. Stop for a second and just look at the tree. If you give it the chance to wow you, it will. Not just the tree itself, but the wildlife around it and on it. If you’re not a smidge moved by watching a lizard walk past a dragonfly on a vine that’s going over a cypress knee, you’re doing your turn on this planet wrong.

Look, I get that not everyone is super into nature. And that’s fine. But lots of us are. On this trip, my son and I heard a red shouldered hawk call. We saw a super cool box turtle with a really neat pattern on its head. We heard five different species of frog calling. We saw a small patch of pitcher plants. That may not seem like anything of interest to you but it made for a great day for us. And if that’s not your thing, fine. But don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mount Pleasant. You can e-mail him at scmgibbons@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike or at mikeslife.us.