Remote area route descriptions

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rightstar76
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Re: Remote area route descriptions

Post by rightstar76 » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:36 pm

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Re: Remote area route descriptions

Post by mrphil » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:01 pm

I do not want to go way off topic on this....

Taking nothing away from Muir, let's face it, he was a zealot. Not just as a conservationist, but religiously. His more profound writings always relate strongly to God. I can understand his inspiration and awe, but nature was his church, and his devotion was strong and unwavering. His work was his crusade. I suppose that's what it took, and while he undeniably was a huge force as a man and an advocate, I think he paid a price. Hetch Hetchy aside, the man was too astute an observer of minute beauty, as well as greater wrongs and injustices, to not also take some pause in witnessing what was happening in a decidedly adverse way to what he loved and had no other desire but to preserve in its natural state. In the year he died, 1914, 15,000 people visited Yosemite Valley alone. They might have been cleansing their souls or communing with nature, or whatever Muir thought/hoped they should be getting out of it, but it was obviously also becoming an almost-anything-goes natural playground for the leisure-class at the same time (only to get much worse in decades to come)...with all the infrastructure and impacts that entails. The writing had to have been on the wall for anyone that cared so deeply. Speaking for myself, if I were in his shoes, that would take a little while to process and reconcile if my goal had always been to protect it from man's interference and destruction.
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Re: Remote area route descriptions

Post by rightstar76 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:59 am

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Re: Remote area route descriptions

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:18 am

Respectfully disagree! You cannot compare early 20th century with now. In Muir's time, the west had just recently been settled, basically no recreational wilderness use at all. Those able to go were a few compared to today, because only the very wealthy could afford the travel. However those wealthy were also politically connected, which was good for Muir in that undeveloped land was then seen as worthwhile to protect, because then it was the commercial interests who were set to endanger the wilderness, not visitors. But do not fool yourself, these early visitors were NOT "leave no trace" wilderness ethics travelers. What we now have as wilderness ethics were fleshed-out later. We also forget that nowadays, we are talking about the world-wide reach of the internet, so even if only a small percentage of travelers would backpack, the total number is huge compared to John Muir's day.

Today we already have an over-abundance of backpackers, and social media is much more powerful means to "advertise" to a population that can not only go, but many (not all) have a warped view of "wilderness" gained from the "party scene" backpacking such as some blogs encourage on the PCT. Can we count on the hordes of new backpackers to embrace the wilderness ethic? Some will, but others will more likely, if they get politically involved, push to loosen wilderness rules to accommodate their preferred non-wilderness ethic. Solitude is not something to be desired by most young people nowadays. The more the merrier. Low impact? Hardly. I hate to be so pessimistic, but I see what my grandchildren are watching on TV and the internet, and "leave no trace" is not to be seen. And even a hour without their treasured electronic devices and constant entertainment to them is pure torture. Not blaming the kids- they are just the victims of over-commercialization.

So, I agree that part of "leave no trace" should be discretion when posting trip reports. Posting detailed directions and GPS tracks is just like putting up a huge billboard on a remote off-trail destination. I no longer post maps of my routes. If instead, those who truly want a wilderness experience, explore and figure out their own routes, by all means, they should reap the rewards, and are more likely to leave no trace.

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Re: Remote area route descriptions

Post by SSSdave » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:33 am

One facet of this discussion that is poorly understood, is how many relatively pristine vulnerable worthwhile to visit and camp at places away from trails, are actually within easy hiking distance of trailheads and roads. The reason this is so is because the vast majority of visitors continue to remain on trails and among those that are more experienced, almost all think of worthwhile off trail areas as places one does so miles from roads. But actually as someone that over decades has explored many near road areas just a half mile to say 3 miles from trailheads and roads, I will relate that there are jaw dropping places that have not yet been noticed and utterly ignored that if social media began putting such into public light could start a stampede of others taking notice.

Most such places are dry sites with outstanding views and interesting features nearby. One may need to carry water from sources a hundred yards to a few so and that has been the biggest impediment keeping those places unknown. Thus not the usual lake-itis trail-side-itis mindset that has dominated backpacking and day hiking planning for decades. Another part of that issue is the majority have only ever parked at official trailheads to start backpacking trips while legally one may park along road sides at pullouts just about anywhere. Also the vast majority of even experienced visitors have never dry camped except along trails. The truth is if one can carry a backpacking load 5 miles up 1000 feet and more the notion that after setting up a dry off trail view camp, one cannot wander a couple hundred yards down to some stream with a Nalgene bottle and Platypus bag and climb back up a couple hundred feet is rather hilarious. The reason others don't do so has more to do with habit and not being used to thinking out of the box.

What I am also relating is the scope of what visitors relate also depends on what a person knows that depends on experience though the tendency in an informal discussion like this is for each person adding comments to narrowly consider the issue from their own limited perspectives. A novice might think rightstar76's input seems to make sense. And to that I will state my situation is very very different because I know so much more.

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Re: Remote area route descriptions

Post by oldranger » Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:33 am

SSSdave wrote:
A novice might think rightstar76's input seems to make sense. And to that I will state my situation is very very different because I know so much more.
Common Dave, Watch your ego!

Even prime sites a hundred yards from water at trail accessible lakes are ignored for illegal sites with illegal fire rings right next to the water. I have camped at what I consider a perfect site with great natural drainage in the Sawtooths and everyone else passes it by to get closer to the lake. In 2015 markskor and I collected a bunch of firewood at the site I use. In 2018 the wood was still there!
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

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Re: Remote area route descriptions

Post by mrphil » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:06 pm

I think we've all seen that social media has the power to be used as a force for both positive and negative change. In retrospect, referring back to Muir, most now see him as a great conservationist, maybe even a hero, but in his day, even though he was an inspiration to many, he was more commonly known as a writer of travel guides. He was a blogger of his day. It certainly brought his issues into the public sphere and eventual broader pressure for policy, but it wasn't that his readers so much came in with an eye towards saving things because it was the right thing to do, it was because it served their recreational purposes in staying the way it was. But, their interest and acceptance was largely in that it had become/was becoming a contrived environment designed to accommodate their needs. It was anything but, as Muir termed it, "rough camping". An 8-person tent was a cute novelty. Party scenes, lakeside sites, organized campgrounds, whatever, the same holds true today. Put 'em out there, make 'em carry a pack, filter water...walk a lot, etc, and the numbers go way way down. That's probably the saving grace. You take roughly 5 million visitors a year in YNP, and realize that less than 2% go backpacking, and it's kind of reassuring...for now.

Anyhow, as with Muir, writing or posting photos that describe details such as flowers, rocks, trees, views, and occasional select and conscientiously vetted destinations have their place. I think that's where you get people excited about the Sierras or anywhere. They see a bigger picture of an ideal worth being part of and saving. That's the positive. However, you tell them that Lake 11974 is the greatest thing since sliced bread...and here's precisely the route you take to get there, and as so many have witnessed first-hand, it potentially becomes: get there early if you want a site, learn to ask your neighbors to turn down their music nicely, and be sure to pack out whatever extra garbage you can. Not so positive. We're people, we wreck things. LNT is good because it minimizes impact, but avoiding or mitigating the inevitable damage of us merely being somewhere is purely a function of numbers. The fastest way to take a precious gem and turn it into a must-have commodity is to advertise and make it easy to obtain. What it is, and what it remains or doesn't, is the difference between delivering it in a Tiffany box or a cargo container.

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Re: Remote area route descriptions

Post by rightstar76 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:14 am

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Re: Remote area route descriptions

Post by balzaccom » Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:34 am

One thing we haven't talked about much in this thread is the "epic" element that plays a role in so much of the media attention that the wilderness gets. In many media stories about the wilderness there is a sense of urgency: "You have to do this hike!" And that sense of urgency is at odds with what many of us experience in the wilderness. Our goal is not to "have done" the hike, so much as it is to enjoy the experience.

If the media attention for wilderness destinations ends up generating traffic among people who are only interested in saying they have completed the challenge/route, then that traffic may not do much to generate support and protection for the wilderness. And it will create even more traffic on these primary routes.

But if the media attention gets people to understand what is wonderful about the wilderness--not that it is a challenge to be overcome, but that it's a pristine experience to be enjoyed--then maybe we will see more enthusiasm and support for the protection of the wilderness.
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Re: Remote area route descriptions

Post by rightstar76 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 12:30 pm

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