Anyone ever found a "Summit Stone?"

I just completed my first trip to the Broken Group in Barkley Sound, and found a “Summit Stone” left by DSD, along with “An Adventure Muse” booklet of quotes by climbers, paddlers, etc. Anyone else found one? Apparently these are left by an anonymous person in wilderness areas as a way to give back to nature. Quite a treasure!

I posted this in the Wilderness Tripping forum but didn’t get any response after several days . . .


Need more information…
sounds like littering to me.

Found the web site:

help navigating the site:

Peak Log
They are very popular in the sierras. A coffee can or an ammo box at the summit with a note pad and a pencil. Kind of like a guest book. I like them. Kind of neat to flip through the early pages and think about all the other people that have made the trek.

Hi Paula!
We haven’t come across any “summit stones” on our side of the mountains but there is often an official summit registry and communal cache of sorts. Once, we came across a geocache purely by accident. Makes a kind of nice surprise, especially if it was a difficult climb up.


"Give back to nature"
Restoring an overused campsite to a more natural state, a beach cleanup, these seem like ways to “give back to nature”, but leaving a “Chock-Full-Of-Nuts” can with a guestbook in it out in the middle of the wildnerness, I don’t see how that gives anything to Nature, that seems to me just to be stroking human ego. As much as truly wild places, untouched by people, are harder and harder to find, it is difficult enough to find a wilderness area where you can even imagine for an instant that the spot where you are standing is truly removed from civilization. Standing there, imagining that when you leave, it will be as if you never visited, that that spot will continue on unchanged as it has for ages, it is a satisfyingly humble feeling, and the sentiment is at the heart of Leave No Trace. Finding a coffee can there with a guest book in it, reminding you of all the people who came before you, that people will come after you, and signing it, that is anathema to Leave No Trace, and what is more, it is vanity.

How did you like the place?

Loved the Broken Group
Hi Salty -

I loved the Broken Group - will go back again to see more. I was too tired to get down to Effingham, Wouwer, Clark & Benson - saved them for another time.

Camped on Hand and Dodd - Skipped Turret, although we did stop in there and check out the camp. Decided on Dodd instead.

Saw Humpbacks every day - and orcas once too. It was a real treat. Saw bat stars and sunflower stars, which I hadn’t seen before either.

The launch at Toquart Bay was out of water - after a couple of days we paddled over to the Sechart resort to refill our dromedary bags.

The privy’s on the islands are the best I’ve ever seen. That alone was worth the $10 per night fee . . .

Salty, I’m going to have to skinny down my gear though - can’t fit it all into the Eliza like I could my Nighthawk - especially when carrying 5 gallons of water.


Yesterday had a magical surf session with nice waves and blue skies. Just outside the break a gray whale hung out all day!

Dromedary bags go under your thighs, behind seat, between knees, or against front bulkhead.

Trimming gear is gaining freedom!

It’s a fun place eh? The outer islands are awesome, so next time!

Not vanity at all…
We’re talking about places with maintained trails (gasp) and mile markers (shock) and sometimes parking at the trail head (oh the humanity)… I don’t think a little notepad or a geo cache is hurting anyone. The more people you can get appreciating nature, the more likely it is that we can convince them the importance of protecting it.

ReefMonkey - Are you living off the grid? Bicycle to work every day? Buying carbon credits? Where do you draw the line on conservation? Just curious…


Coffee Can - NOT!
I didn’t find a coffee can with a guest book - I found a painted stone and a booklet of inspiring quotes - I not once was trying to delude myself into thinking I was standing in an untouched wilderness spot . . . It was an established camping area inside an area that takes a sense of adventure and quite a bit of effort to access . . . thus, I felt quite rewarded for my efforts - and found many other “untouched” areas to admire while we were there.

I’m an environmental scientist

– Last Updated: Sep-30-07 9:34 PM EST –

- since you asked. (I've posted about my work on B&B in relation to environmental topics, so ask anyone there to corroborate), done human-health and ecological risk-based remediation on soil and groundwater at more hazardous waste sites than I care to remember, and now manage environmental compliance for a Japanese chemical company, so I'm pretty secure in my contribution to conservation, how about you, Tom?

Thistleback called the summit stone a way to "give back to nature," and I roll my eyes at that characterization. It may not be hurting nature, but tell me how by any stretch of the imagination a summit stone benefits nature? Since those who have made the effort to reach the summit stone have already shown that they appreciate nature enough to make the trip, they aren't the ones who need to be brought into the fold of appreciating nature, or convinced of the need to protect it, so your logic and moral high ground are both pretty flimsy. Even if those who were making the trip were somehow on the fence about whether or not nature is a good thing, what exactly do you think the summit stone is doing to get them to appreciate nature that the trip out there and the beauty of the landscape doesn't accomplish?

And the summit stone…
And the summit stone “gives back to nature” how again???

So you were “rewarded for [your] efforts”? So let me get this straight, your efforts were traveling through an area that takes a bit of adventure to get through, and your reward for those efforts wasn’t the beauty of the landscape along the way, or the sense of accomplishment from completing the trip, or the beauty of the landscape at the destination, but finding a painted stone and a booklet of inspiring quotes? I guess you and I have different motivations for getting outside, and I’ll leave it at that.

It takes all kinds…
I appreciate clearly marked campgrounds at state and national parks. Amenities such as flush toilets and showers are good for all of those families and weekend warriors out there. Further, I want my federal tax dollars spent to help maintain trail systems (e.g. AT, PCT) with designated camp areas and shelters that, in the long run, lower our impact on the environment. Lastly, I want access to areas that are untouched (e.g. desolation wilderness, trinity alps). I think it is important that remote areas where someone can go to truly get away from it all should be protected. I think people that venture into these remote areas should be considered in a no rescue zone, and should be dependant on their own resources to get in and out.

If your “nature for nature’s sake” argument holds true, geo-caching would be nothing more than a fringe hobby. Instead it is wildly popular. While I personally have no interest in the activity of geo-caching, if the idea of finding treasure motivates people to get out, great. Likewise, if leaving a note in a coffee can (or rock) give someone a sense of accomplishment that they can revisit in the future, equally great. My point is, I don’t expect the majority of people to make it into the backcountry, but I do want them aware of the environment to understand why their tax dollars should be involved in keeping our national park system intact.

As for my thoughts on conservation, check out Daniel Engber….

While his ideas are interesting to think about, they, like buying carbon credits, lack feasibility on a large scale.

  • Tom.

The Broken Group has lost

– Last Updated: Oct-01-07 2:42 PM EST –

it. I also just got back. Paddled there from 9/21/-9/27. Have been there about six times over the last ten years. I can honestly say I will never go back. It used to be the outer islands were the perview of expericenced kayakers. Putting in at Toquart, paddling the 10 km out to Clark, avoiding the crowds at Hand, Dodd, Turret and Willis.

Now the company that runs the Lady Rose has commercialized the entire group of islands. They rent kayaks, drop you off on any of the five islands that have camp sites, and come and pick you up. Hence, the outer (wilder open water) island camp sites are taken up with weekend warriors who sit on the beach all day if a little wind and swell kicks up. They take up what few camp sites there are with almost car camping style tents, coolers, and lawn chairs. During the summer there are on average 200 people during the weekdays and 300 on long weekends (only 5 islands allow camping, do the math). When I was there last week, there were only 18 people out on all the islands. And it still felt crowed because the people we met had been dropped off by the water taxi and even though they were only four people with two tents, they spread out accross 5 tents sites. The Lady Rose employee who collects the tent fees said that one time this summer they had 62 people on Willis which comfortably can hold about 12. Nothing like paddling all day to show up on a beach with wall to wall tents.

Sorry for the rant, but while the Broken Group may look like wilderness, the camping there is far from it. Better to head further up Vancouver Island. Real wilderness with no preset camp sites and no one around. If you must go to the Broken Group, try Oct, or before May.

Sounds like Reefmonkey …
… is getting at the continuing trend toward the anthropomorphism of Nature. That is, in this case, the millennia-old tendency for humans to regard Nature primarily as a playground on which to exercise our uniquely human pastimes such as art, highly-developed social interaction, motorized mobility, etc… I suppose your average ATV’er might be commended for ‘getting out and enjoying Nature’, but he and I have drastically differing views of what constitutes that.

In a world increasingly devoid of spirit-sustaining solitude, I do not appreciate the distraction or the clutter of coffee-can poetry repositories, geocaches, or cigarette butts.

I guess Thoreau said it best: “Alas! how little does the memory of these human inhabitants enhance the beauty of the landscape!”

Tend to agree
This summer drove to Toquart and witnessed a guy with his daughter in trouble 1/2 mile from shore. She had capsized. The water Taxi helped out, and subsequently took the entire group to Benson. We paddled out to find the same group and another huge group spread all over the island. One lady from that group placed her tent on the nice little point that we’d hoped to put our 1 tent. I inquired with the group, but she would not move. Not only was that just selfish, it was technically illegal according to the woman collecting fee’s.

I was left with mixed emotions for sure. On the one hand it was annoying, on the other I saw lots of families and kids having fun! I see these areas almost as sacrifice spots. They are heavily used, but the coastal environment seems to refresh itself, and I favor people enjoying the parks.

As you say, there are many other places that are not crowded. If we were there now it would be a non-issue.

“Nature for nature’s sake” argument?
I didn’t make such an argument, that’s a straw man. I’m all for sustainable public access to nature. I am all for designated camp grounds, well-maintained trails, both for convenience and for the erosion prevention they provide. I have no problem with flush toilets and showers. I only have a problem with attempts to “enhance” the nature experience, and I think it is sad that our society is so goal-oriented and achievement-oriented that there are people out there for whom just being out in nature isn’t enough, they need or want a scrapbook at the end of the trail to make it “more special”. I don’t think national parks, etc, should cater to such people or need to cater to such people.

Judging from the Annual Reports I get from REI as a member of the coop, there isn’t a shortage of people buying gear for outdoor adventures. The AT is overhiked, and popular campsites along it are crowded and trashed. Popular national parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone have a problem of too many visitors - they actually have to limit the number of visitors, otherwise the traffic would put too much strain on the environment at those parks. Clearly, we don’t have a problem of too few people wanting to enjoy nature, so we don’t need gimmicks like summit stones to get more people interested, and frankly, those aren’t the kind of visitors we should be wanting to attract in nature. A desire to get there, get your picture taken in front of the sight, and then buy the bumper sticker to put on your RV in the gift shop so it is another site to scratch off your list, these are the kind of people who need a gimmick like a summit stone to be lured to do the hike, the aren’t the kind of people who are going to be concerned about minimal impact on the land during their visit that comes from true appreciation of nature. Those who truly appreciate nature don’t need a summit stone to have a great experience, and sometimes have to make the decision to stay away from nature in order to love it. When I was in Tanzania, I was all excited about climbing Kilimajaro, but after reading a little bit and talking to people who did it, I realized the mountain is getting trashed by all those who attempt to climb it, so I canceled my plans. But plenty of people still climb it every year, so that they can get their picture taken on Kibu peak, and say they did it. These people obviously have somewhere gotten a little more motivation to enjoy nature than the average couch potato, but obviously not enough true appreciation to stay away from the mountain. Things like summit stones attract these kinds of people.

About geocaching, I know that a lot of people hear about it and are excited about the concept, so I guess that makes it wildly popular, but I wonder how many of those people who talk about it actually do it. Interestingly, I have been aware of geocaching since the late 90s, have talked to outdoorsy people who are enthusiastic about the concept and say they have always wanted to get into it, but I have never once met someone who has actually tried it, let alone does it regularly. In contrast, I have only been aware of Burning Man for about 2 years, yet I have met several different people who have been, some of them going every year. This year Burning Man had about 40,000 attendees, only a little more than 0.01% of the US population. So you’d think that if geocaching were that “wildly popular” I would have run into at least as many geocachers as I do burners (and I am far more likely to be the kind of guy to have something in common with the former, and thus more likely to have a conversation with the former). A pretty rough statistical yardstick, I know, but this is just an informal conversation we’re having. No matter, even if geocaching is “wildly popular”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the people engaging in it are truly appreciative of nautre, or that what they are doing is environmentally responsible. I know that both ATVing and jetskiing are much more wildly popular than geocaching, but I think you would find few here who believe those people are truly appreciating nature over the thrum of their engines or leaving their environment at least as clean, if not cleaner, than it would have been if they had not been “enjoying nature” (it’s a little dangerous to lean over and pick up someone else’s littered Powerbar wrapper when you’re doing 25 on an ATV or a Jetski). I see a direct parallel between people who need the added thrill of speed to enjoy nature, and those who need the added thrill of finding a summit stone to enjoy nature.

Like “Meerkat Manor”?
I agree with your observations of the trend towards anthropomorphizing nature. There are so many facets to that, and that Animal Planet show “Meerkat Manor” exemplifies one facet. That show is terrible about assigning either noble or malevolent human-like motives to animal behavior. Even back in the days of Marlon Perkins, when nature shows might be excused for not knowing any better, they weren’t as bad as “Meerkat Manor”. But now, to make the show interesting and engaging to the MTV generation and their kids, the animals need to exhibit “human drama” a la “The Real World.” With media depictions of nature like this, is it any wonder there are people out there who need a gimmick like a summit stone to get excited about getting down the trail?