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How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

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How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

Postby mokelumnekid » Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:32 pm

This was prompted by reading about Carol R, in a message posted by rlown over in the (new?) history section (rlown- this is in no way about your cool post and report, just that got me thinking is all).

Increasingly through the years I am coming across plaques, posts, bottles, stuff- that are basically heart-felt memorials to people. Some were young, some old, some accidental, some suicide. But all ad hoc and at some small level, not legal, tho I'm not going to tee-off on that.

How does this impact your sense of wilderness? I'm going to come clean- and this is pure prejudice- I don't care for it. I strive for LNT approach, and I'm guessing maybe the departed did too. Tossing your ashes to the wind is one thing- but nailing down *stuff* is another. It injects a sense of rootless narrative that is not especially linked to manifest pioneers (they be looong dead), or special accomplishments/identification with Sierra wilderness such that they shaped events of broad scope.

Ashes-to-ashes, dust-to-dust. In a western culture that is based on emphasizing the individual, and identifying manifest elements of personality and spirit, we have ample ceremonial and cultural vehicles for dealing with remembrance. When we go to the high country to step outside of that, for me it is jolting, not in a pleasant way, to kick over someone's bottle of ashes, some plastic flowers and a crude plaque. Usually it happens within a mile or so of the road, but I've had this happen a few times in the last few years and it is kinda creeping me out. Just saying!



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Re: How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

Postby rlown » Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:41 pm

nothing wrong with the thought.. wish i could have found more on Carol.. Personally, I'm still picking the lake my friends have to cast me onto... Thought I had it at Virginia Lk in Yose until they removed the trout. Now my target ash spread is Hanging Basket. You're kinda taking this to a dark place, and that's not what it's meant to be. The plaque was meaningful to her and her friends.

Um, Carol's name is on the map.

I don't need a plaque.. Just wanna be close to my fish. I'd suggest using a water filter. :lol:

you do know that the number of people on or off trail kind of pollutes the environment anyway.. LNT... get over it.. there's a trace.. We've had the TP discussions.. Ashes or plaques are fine, compared to that.
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Re: How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

Postby quentinc » Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:45 pm

Guess what? http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ashes.htm

I wonder how many people actually apply for permission. At any rate, I agree with MK. The wilderness isn't the place for people's personal monuments.
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Re: How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

Postby rlown » Tue Sep 21, 2010 10:01 pm

um.. yes.. there's a process.. and then Carol shows up on the map as "Carol Col" Note this isn't Yose. what are you guys trying to beat to death here? Quentin, where do you want to be cast or buried? I only ask because it doesn't seem to be in the Sierra.. Me.. I've about 10 years to decide where. Might wanna change topic to "where do you want to end up."

I've no problem with where someone wants to end up or how their friends/loved ones salute them.. I like lakes with fish.
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Re: How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

Postby mokelumnekid » Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:30 pm

Well I'm cool with the scattering of ashes and note the NPS is too but also does not allow any (geologically robust) memorial materials. I think this represents a fair balance. Rlown- I think we are in agreement here maybe? And I'm not overly anal about the LNT stuff, I meant it in a practical way. I think many would agree that leaving long-lived trash or *willfully* abandoning objects violates the practical application of that ethic. In my book- memorial plaques, bottles and cans fall into that category. I have noticed this mostly along Hwy's 4 and 88, because the majority of folks who do this are not really going to hike these into the high Sierra back-country- when something alongside the road will do (tho I've come across quite a few in remote parts of Nevada, not to mention actual bodies).

Where I was going in my original post was not criticize the scattering of ashes- (emphasis on scattering and ashes) because that is inherently LNT. But this is just my opinion- heck I'm really not all that keen on summit registers, and rarely record anything in them.

Just my two bits!
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Re: How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

Postby maverick » Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:06 am

I am in agreement with Mk that I to would personally would rather not see articles
left in the backcountry either, but also agree with Rlown in that ashes are fine.
One exception where I would be all right with a small memorial, and I mean small
would be if a person died while in the back country, and there was no body recovered
than I see no problem with the family placing a small plaque or whatever.
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Re: How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

Postby quentinc » Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:14 am

Rlown, I'm also fine with scattering ashes. I suspect other NPs have the same rule as Yosemite, but I have no problem if someone skips the permit part and just follows the guidelines (e.g., not near a water source).

As for me personally? I would say the top of Mt. Russell, but I wouldn't want to endanger anyone's life in the process of memorializing the end of mine!
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Re: How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

Postby rlown » Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:22 am

Hopefully, no one on this board will have to find out too soon how they might be memorialized.

Mt. Russell.. Nice choice.
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Re: How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

Postby mokelumnekid » Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:26 am

Looks like we all agree on most of this after all. :o

Would like to see a full east ridge Russell trip report from somebody. Especially if they go with the descent off the side instead of going back down the ridge.
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Re: How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

Postby quentinc » Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:44 pm

MK, I could post a few more of my Russell pictures, but I'm not sure how much they would add to what I already posted. It was pretty smoky, so the pix didn't turn out so well. For what it's worth, the only place I had any real problem was getting up and around the east tower, both coming and going. Not that it's hard, but you have to figure out when to go high and when to drop down onto the "walkway" that's north of the ridge.

I gazed down the alleged Class 3 route between the 2 towers. It didn't look as awful as I had imagined. When you get down, you have to go over the Whitney-Russell pass, right?
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Re: How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Sep 22, 2010 8:03 pm

I have run across some failry historical plaques - the one at Marion Lake for example. That one did not bother me. I also ran acrross a plaque near Mt. Banner for someone who died climbing the peak. It actually looked like a grave was at the location! I was not fond of that one. I would say that if the memorial is of historical nature for someone of historical importance and put in place before the declaration of the wilderness area, that is OK. Otherwise, no, I do not like them.
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Re: How do you feel about personal memorials in the Wilderness?

Postby sierramel » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:50 pm

I seem to remember that Peter Starr (son of Walter A. Starr, jr. - Starr's Guide to the JMT and the High Sierra Region) was the one who died climbing the Minarets in the '60's and was rocked (it took searchers quite a while to locate him) in where he lay. Don't hold me to that, but I know that one of those climbing pioneers had that distinction. However if Norman Clyde had crashed and been memorialized back there, I for one would not object to it. I'd be making a pilgrimage to the spot.
I know of another memorial plaque that is nailed higher up on a tree down near the Kings River between the N. and S. junctions of the Taboose Pass Trail that I have been looking for for years and have yet to find.
I suppose all this means is that I think it's o.k. if the memorial is unobtrusive and in good taste.
As for me, I'm going in one piece into the Mt. Morrison Cemetary near Convict Lake.
"Some places remain unknown because no one has ventured forth. Others remain so because no one has ever come back."
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