Monday, March 17, 2008

Responses to Scared Indoors

Wildebeat has a great summary of responses to their two part podcast we mentioned last week.

Check it out here.

It has occurred to me that maybe having the media scare people away from wild places is a good thing, and that will ensure that my friends and I are able to head out and not see a lot of folks on our trips. But there are other factors at work.

Last May we did a wonderful trip on the St. John River in northwest Maine. This trip is called by some the "Mt. Everest" of wilderness canoeing in the east. The river is free flowing, with no dams, so paddlers have to rely on winter runoff to provide the water to make the trip. This makes trips possible only in May and June, or after long rainy spells later in the summer. We arrived at our drop point at Baker Lake, and there were thirty other people in four groups staging along with our six people. I guess if trips like this were more popular, there may have been a hundred people, and the North Maine Woods, who manage the river's recreational traffic would have to mandate sites and manage the crowds more. We did the five day trip leap frogging with other groups from camp to camp, and while we had a great time, but we did see these other people each day and at night some of the campsites were packed.

The same goes for the trail head known as Appalachia in Randolph, NH (which was named not for the great peaks above it but for the sick hikers who imbibed in green apples that this former orchard presented them decades earlier). Twenty five years ago, the parking lot would be full a couple days a week during the summer. Now, it is full far more often.

As our population grows, even a declining pool of outdoors people can be in larger in gross numbers than a decade or two in the past.

We want more people to get outdoors, but we need to understand what that means for some of our treasured wild places.

What's that saying--"loving something to death?"