Binge hiking?

Oh, no. Farwell’s article in this week’s newsletter from Pcom is the best yet, IMO of course. It is also alarming, because I have noticed the same trend, and I too worry it will destroy the very places people go to get away from hordes of each other. The horde phenomenon has existed all along in more limited quantities and extent. It is the social-media-worshipping frenzy that likely will plunge wild areas to their destruction.

Formerly known as “loved to death,” now it isn’t even love. It is peer pressure to bag an experience, just because others are doing it. The experience is just another notch on the belt. Definitely NOT love, more like bragging about “going all the way” with a popular classmate to inflate your own ego.

At the same time, many copycats get into big trouble when they attempt “adventures” without adequate preparation. Sorry, guys, studying the electronic routes and seeing some photos doesn’t substitute for old-fashioned training. People are following their electronic idiot’s directions instead of checking against what their eyes and other resources tell them, in real life. The things are only a supplemental tool, not a substitute for common sense, general knowledge of what is to be undertaken, and other tools that are not programmed (i.e., fed data that is often wrong).

Ever seen someone stop in a car and insist that a road must exist straight ahead BECAUSE THEIR ELECTRONIC NAV SYSTEM SAYS SO? Well, I have, and even after telling him twice that no, the road ends right there as he stares in front, he acts as though it can’t be. SHEESH. When someone finds a mistake on a paper map, they say, “Oh, it must be a mistake.” But for some reason, people act as though the electronic gods cannot possibly be wrong! Blasphemy!

I hate to break it to them that the gods are merely programmed by humans, and therefore every bit as prone to error.

The old slogan Get Rid Of Your TV needs to be recycled as Put The E-Idiot Toy Away. Really, it’s OK to use other tools.

I’m afraid we are Neanderthals.
I know 40 somethings who can’t get their faces out of the damned things.

Death by Selfie :o and other random thoughts.
You know there are quite a few people who have done themselves in trying to get a selfie on a ledge. I wonder if the government will start publishing statistics on this, my suspicion is the number is higher than the kayakers who drown without wearing PFD. I’ve traveled around quite a bit this Spring/Summer and have heard of several recent instances here in San Diego, up in San Francisco, in Utah in the southern parks, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon. Maybe Binge Hiking / Social Media Sharing will be self limiting.

I’m not so sure bucket lists are a bad thing, some of us will die sooner than others due to diseases, it’s nice to have a few things you really want to see or do before it’s too late.

I don’t even see the articles by Farwell when I log into now, I just see menus with huge text and images .

And a word of caution if you drive in Italy … ask the locals how wide and steep the street is before you follow Google Maps suggestion - I believe their street view mapping was done with a moped.

A little population control never hurts, at least it doesn’t hurt for long.

We lose people every year on waterfalls, right past the danger signs, typically young males.

Bucket lists are fine. Aping other people’s bucket lists in futile one-upmanship is what’s disturbing. In addition, the human load on wild areas that results from such egotripping can destroy those places.

In my hiking days, my observation was that the crowd thinned as you got further from the trailhead but we hiked places that were less traveled.
There are dozens of trails in the Smokies where we never saw anyone else.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of everyone having easy access to information about everything. There’s a neat little State Natural Area not far from where I live that, up until 20 years ago, was an unknown gem of a place, with a tiny but deep, hidden canyon and amazing waterfalls. Well, naturally, once the social-media thing really kicked in, countless people became aware of the place, and now it’s terribly overcrowded on any day that the weather is nice. I don’t think it’s a brag-able destination, but it is something that a lot of people naturally want to see, once they become aware of it. Another place that used to be one of my go-to hiking destinations in northern Wisconsin has suffered the same fate. When I first started going there in the late 1980s, it was rare to see another car in the parking lot or another person on the trail. Now, if you get there after 10:00 a.m., parked cars are lined up on both sides of the road for 50 yards in both directions (in spite of the fact that they tripled the size of the parking lot), and the trail is nearly a non-stop parade of people. They are indeed loving the place to death.

Hee-hee, on a more comical note, there had been an informal nude beach on the lower Wisconsin River, which had been used by small numbers of locals for a very long time, quite literally for generations (going all the way back to the times when nude swimming, at least for males, was far more common than clothed). As far as I could ever tell, no one cared much one way or the other about the fact that the beach, which is public land, was used that way. The beach was named after the nearest town, so when the internet came to be, suddenly there were crazy numbers of gay men showing up at the two convenience stores in that town, asking how to get to the beach, and their license plates were mostly from out of state, and from as far away as Wyoming (a friend of mine who lived there in those days said that a good portion of the hick-town population was pretty upset by these guys showing up and asking questions (it must have been before the invention of google maps)). From what I heard and could see from the top of a hill that I often hiked on which was about 3/4 of a mile away, the number of people at the beach soared from a few dozen to many hundreds, perhaps over a thousand, and reportedly, lots of people were camping out on the beach for weeks at a time. Finally the DNR had to cut off access to parking, and from what I’ve heard, that didn’t do the trick and they have finally shut the place down completely. Now a whole stretch of the river, many times larger than the beach, is completely off-limits to camping by ordinary paddlers like me and you, just because the internet brought thousands of unwelcome visitors to a beach nobody used to even think about.

Karl Kruger, the guy who finished the Race to Alaska on his SUP, made some thoughtful comments in a post-race interview about the loss of humanity by so many who live in their devices. Not only a loss of humanity in connection with nature, but I think it goes further with a loss of respect for oneself and one’s environment.