Jackrabbit Johannsen: Trail Etiquette

Standing in a parking lot somewhere between Montreal and Ottawa along the Canadian Ski Marathon trail in 1969, I watched Jackrabbit Johannsen berate a skier who had startled him, passing without properly calling “Trail!” Jackrabbit, one of the pioneers, promoters, popularizers of X-C in Canada, founder of the race, well into his 90s, (he lived to 111, a legend and testament to healthy life-style as it is called now) he was yelling at the embarrassed guy with his strong Norwegian accent, “don’t uu know to call TRAIL?” Obvious to me that Jackrabbit was very deaf and would not have heard anyway.

(OK, I confess, he was yelling at me)


I had been waiting for hours for my race partner to arrive. I skied the first leg, David G. Smith the second. But he ran out of gas; when he did come in told me he sat for an hour beside the trail in a daze. My own similar experience in the Boston Marathon a few months later at mile 20.

Mushers also call Trail! I don’t like it, I prefer to say “Heads up!”

In the book Beyond the Mexique Bay written in the mid 30s, Aldous Huxley describes meeting burro trains along trails in Mexico:

“Burrr-rro!” the drivers shouted with that prodigious rolling of the r that is only to be heard in Mexico. (guess he never went to many other countries in Latin America) And “Burrr-rro!” yelled our mozo. It is automatic; one always shouts “Burro!” when one meets donkeys on a narrow road. Not because it does any good, but simply for fun… I never missed an opportunity of doing so: nor of shouting “Perrr-rro!” at any dog that strayed in my neighborhood. With ten or fifteen years of practice one might learn to roll one’s r’s as grandly as the Mexicans themselves.

Next time in a sled dog race, try it instead of calling trail: “Perrr-rro!”






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s