Why mainly only caucasian backpackers? | High Sierra Topix  

Why mainly only caucasian backpackers?

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
User avatar

Re: Why mainly only caucasian backpackers?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Oct 16, 2016 8:13 pm

I think Yosemite Valley is not representative for this discussion because it always has been, since it became so well known for rock climbing, very international. On day-hikes I would say over half the people are speaking a different language, many from other countries, lots of non-whites. I have regularly picked up hitch hikers in Yosemite, and all have been foreign climbers.

The new trend seems to be busloads of tourists from China or India or wherever. We ran across them in the national parks in Canada last year too. They do a lot of day-hiking but not much backpacking. Yosemite is on a lot of international "bucket lists".

I have run into more non-Caucasian backpackers on the JMT vs other trails. Again, this is a "big name trail" with bragging rights. This of course is typical- about the same thing I did - hit the more well known trails first. Now I am into obscure nooks and crannies.

You could also ask the question, why the lack of white folks in basketball and football?

I think the bigger question is will young people of any color be backpacking in 50 years? My grandchildren have to be pried off their electronic devices. What will happen when you can go backpacking via virtual reality? Will anyone still want to put in the sweat and tears.



User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2610
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Why mainly only caucasian backpackers?

Postby Eiprahs » Mon Oct 17, 2016 4:42 pm

I have read this thread with interest, but am a bit puzzled.

The undertone of the LA Times article is that somehow American Society has failed since the ethnicity of back packers doesn't mirror that of the population at large. I'm not sure that should ever be true for implicitly this requires the melting away of our cultural pasts, the homogenization of our experiences, so that we, all of us, forget where we came from and look in one direction, one way to a common melting pot future.

I haven't worried much about back packer ethnicity, although I have met people from many countries on trail. What has struck me as odd, tho, is how seldom I have met descendants of the peoples who traditionally lived on these 'wild lands'. If anyone should be 'out there' these are the folks. But they aren't.
Dave
User avatar
Eiprahs
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:12 pm
Location: Mount Angel, Oregon
Experience: Level 1 Hiker

User avatar

Re: Why mainly only caucasian backpackers?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:54 pm

Our view and definition of "wilderness" is really a western European cultural idea, not exactly the same as that of the Native Americans. One area where the native Americans are using the wilderness, ON THIR TERMS, is on the Wind River Indian Reservation. There now has been a multi-year program between NOLS and the tribes. NOLS offers a few courses specifically and exclusively for tribal members. It has been a slow process. The Reservation is plagued with rampant alcoholism, drug use and many social ills and poverty (in spite of more money than most tribes).

"Leave no trace" is not a Native American norm. After all, they LIVED in the wilderness and we drove them out. Why would they just want to "visit"? There are established structures in the Roadless Area (the equivalent of our wilderness). There is no hunting season - tribal members can hunt any time. Most prefer to use horses. Light and fast is not in their vocabulary. More like slow and reverent. Tepee poles. Fires.

In general when I run into a Native American in the Roadless Area, they do not engage or acknowledge my presence. The outfitters are semi-friendly. The young people, though, are quite friendly. I was invited by a young boy to eat breakfast with his family who had cooked too much food. He was surprised but also delighted that I, an older woman, was on my own. He told me his grandmother used to hunt out here alone all the time.

They revere bears and do not hunt them. Almost all the bear encounters I have had in the Wind Rivers has been on the reservation. So I have been "blessed" multiple times!
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2610
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Why mainly only caucasian backpackers?

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:02 pm

A backpacking fanatic of my acquaintance who has hiked solo all over the trailless alpine of the Sierra is of Japanese descent. I met her because she joined my hiking group as she was getting "too old for solo" (her words) and wanted company. A fishing fanatic. She made her own backpack, tore the frame out of an old one and used ultralight material with a special cylindrical compartment on the bottom for her Bearikade Expedition.

Her husband is African -- they fly back to his village every year, in Africa, to be with his family -- and he does not hike with her. They go out in the wilds to hunt, in Africa. He can't hunt here so he sees no reason to hike. He has never understood her backpacking habit....
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1768
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Why mainly only caucasian backpackers?

Postby sparky » Mon Oct 17, 2016 10:35 pm

We might be mostly Caucasian, but we are ALL human :unibrow: Most of us anyway
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
User avatar
sparky
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 880
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:01 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Why mainly only caucasian backpackers?

Postby Ska-T » Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:17 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:I have run into more non-Caucasian backpackers on the JMT vs other trails.

I agree and put forth the theory that among the young backpackers in California, which includes a health number of Hispanics and Asians, that backpacking is one of their hobbies, but not yet their main hobby. As that demographic gets older I suspect there will be more hard core backpackers among them. Novice, occasional, social backpackers often favor the popular trails.

Mav, my daughter loves backpacking and we recently did part of the SHR (i.e., off trail). My son would participate more if he were not subject to AMS (from his mom's genetics), but he still occasional goes and has fun. They both did cross country routes including Hands-and-Knees Pass, Glacier Pass, and Lion Rock Pass when they were in elementary school. Maybe the LA Times wouldn't count them since they are "only" half Asian.

Perhaps you are too young, Mav, but in the late 60s through the 70s you may have bumped into me and my Af-Am girl friend backpacking in various areas from Desolation to Baja.
User avatar
Ska-T
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 187
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:59 pm
Location: Huntington Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Previous

Return to The Campfire



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests

cron