too much technology?

1:46 a.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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On a recent hike of the lake moultree passage of the palmetto trail I downloaded and watched tony bourdain's latest no reservations episode...(hay its one of like four things I watch on the tube). My buddy harassed me and called me a cheater. For arguments sake I would like to point out my friend still hikes with a shelia pack, and has never liked the Designated Hitter either. His 7 wood is persimmon as well but lets not go there... I use my phone for everything, including communicating with work, this site, gps in the field, and safety. Its also lighter than most books...so where do you draw the line in the backcountry?

6:02 a.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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My digital camera is the only tech tool I carry in the woods.

11:42 a.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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The point at which it becomes too much tech is when you start paying more attention to the tech instead of to the Nature around you. This can mean when you are staring at the compass or fiddling with your binoculars and not seeing where you are.

A month ago, I was spectating at the Amgen Tour of California bike race, but viewing it almost entirely through the viewfinder of my camera. Only after I downloaded the 500 or so images did I realize that I had a great view of Lance and George, side by side perfectly composed and filling the frame - I had not seen them ride by! As we were headed back to our transportation home, one of my fellow photo-spectators asked "Did you see the race?" I knew what he meant, and a couple of us said "No, I was too busy looking through the viewfinder."

I see the same thing in the wilderness - people too busy taking photos, or birders too busy staring through their vibration control zoom binoculars to actually see the birds.

But it doesn't take technology. I also see backpackers (especially thru-hikers who are carrying their minimal 10 poounds total gear and food) striding rapidly along the trail, heads down, eyes focussed on the trail 5 feet in front of them. When you ask them in camp that evening how they liked the view of Mt. Awesome from the crest of High Pass, or whether they saw the herd of mountain goats, or the grizzly sow and her 2 cubs, too many stare at you and respond with "I got 35 miles in today." Nothing wrong with setting a PR for distance or feet ascended or number of images burned, if that's your bag. But you are missing a lot of what's there in the hills, woods, and wilderness.

At the same time, the peak with a splendid view is a great place to read (or re-read) one of Muir's or Thoreau's books (or even a murder mystery, if that's your bag). And that great scenic shot that you can get a wall-sized print to hang up in your office is a wonderful way to bring back a piece of the adventure.

12:02 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Nicely put, Bill.

On my first trip out, I had set goals a little beyond my abilities as far as where I wanted to end up on the first night. I ended up camping off trail instead of setting up at a nice camp site with a fire ring and such. At first, I thought I had failed to accomplish a great hike, but after setting up camp and thinking awhile about the trip so far, I realized I had not failed to make my desired goal, but only failed to make the desired number of miles I intended to hike. I actually enjoyed stopping and looking and listening at what the forest was offering me.

From then on, I decided to set up a "flight plan" for the sole purpose of having a direction to hike towards, but time or destination was not important. The flight plan was handy if I got lost and needed to be found since I left a copy of it with someone back home.

The map and compass was there if I needed it. I used a simple pedometer to help me keep track of a rough estimate of where I was also, but never looked at it much except when I was wondering if I were going to make my original destination. Once I realized I wasn't going to beat the dark, I started relaxing and enjoyed the scenery.

I'm sure there is a place for technology on more sophisticated trips than the ones I make, but I'll bet no one has more fun than I do.

steve

12:31 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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I have a friend who hikes with over 8 lbs of camera equipment, and spends half his trip messing with the equipment. Another who listens to his iPod instead of enjoying the sounds of nature. My favorit is my buddy who text messages as he hikes. I always thought hiking was about getting away from it all and getting back to nature.

Looking at this from another angle, I see too many people fixed on the gear but not their condition or training. On conditioning, I know a few who felt if they had the newest lightweight, high-tech gear, they could go longer and further. I tried to explain that if they were not in good shape, it didn't matter how light their gear was, that they would still have problems... After their first few hours of hiking they found out the truth.

I know I talk alot about lightweigh gear and high-tech equipment, but I work out every day to stay in shape for backpacking. It makes it much more enjoyable than sucking wind after an hour of hiking.

Training is another issue. For example, using a GPS instead of understanding how to use a compass or properly read a map. I have seen people who could not get a clear signal and had a hard time finding their way. I remember having to lead a group out of the one area because they lost the trail and their GPS was not working.

To many people who are dependent upon their technology. Cell phones for weather reports instead of being able to judge the weather conditions by site. Depending on a high-tech packs to carry their load instead of learning how to pack a backpack properly.

My recent favorite iwas watching a group of people set up their tent this winter. I watched as the group setup this new high-tech tent desiged for 4 season use in a poor location under a tree laden with snow. I tried to explain the problem, but was informed that their tent could handle anything. By moring their tent was trashed. Snow had fallen on it, the wind had caught the shell and ripped it because they didn't tie it down correctly, and ice had builtup inside the tent. On the other hand my simple Teepee style tent was fine.

12:34 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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I'd echo Steve and Bill here. I've seen people pushing so are to make distance or carrying ever gadget know to man and wonder why they do it. But if that what makes you happy then who am I to say otherwise.

I do like the "flight Plan" mode of hiking too. Even though I do tend to carry maps, compass and on bigger trips a basic GPS. I usually use them to mark / log the spots I've camped. I don't tend to pull them out unless I am feeling too far off the "flight Plan". I tend to create my plans so that I know I could easily make the trip in the time allotted so I can plan in those side diversions along the way as they will inevitably happen anyway. Stop to smell the roses or some such thing...

Phones and the Internet are something I enjoy leaving behind for a while...

2:54 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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GPS and camera are the only electronics I'll bring, and most of the time they'll end up staying turned off.

4:21 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Do whatever makes you happy as long as you have the skills to get by without them.

I'd say too much technology is either when it starts to take away from the enjoyment of the trip or if it makes you confident enough to get into situations that you can't get out of if the equipment breaks.

If a gadget makes the trip more fun for you, go for it, just don't trust you're life to it.

9:19 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes, I admit having a camera can be bad for being able to actually see the world around me. I often wish just one trip I could not take my camera and see all there is to see without the need to capture everything on film.

And when I come home a download the pictures to my camera I see that while I took some rather good shots I dont remember much about the trip.

I have been a amature/hobbist photographer since I was 12 and so in 40 some years have taken 100's of thousands of images but have less recognition of my life on the road. I do remember a lot from the last 30 year but not half as much as if I had not had to drag along my camera and equipment.

10:04 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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I think a lot could be learned from Ansel Adams. Over his lifetime, he took very few pictures compared to a lot of contemporary photographers, but he planned them very carefully, watching for the "decisive moment" as Cartier-Bresson called it.

His famous photo "Moonlight, Hernandez, New Mexico" was, as I recall, just one shot, not one of hundreds. Now he was using a view camera, which takes a while to set up, but much of his time was watching the clouds, the weather and waiting.

"My recent favorite iwas watching a group of people set up their tent this winter. I watched as the group setup this new high-tech tent desiged for 4 season use in a poor location under a tree laden with snow. I tried to explain the problem, but was informed that their tent could handle anything. By moring their tent was trashed. Snow had fallen on it, the wind had caught the shell and ripped it because they didn't tie it down correctly, and ice had builtup inside the tent. On the other hand my simple Teepee style tent was fine."

Gearjunky, those folks could do with a read of Jack London's "To Build a Fire," a short fictional story I recently read, about a winter traveler who forgot the basic lesson these folks also missed.

11:38 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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The only electronic device I carry is my camera (and watch). I go to the wilderness because I love the wilderness. All the electronic gadgetry is only a distraction. I feel the same way about I-pods.

When I take my scouts camping, I have a hard and fast rule. They can play with their electronic toys in the vehicle on the way there, but once we get out of the cars all electronics stay behind.

1:32 a.m. on March 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill, says:

"But it doesn't take technology. I also see backpackers (especially thru-hikers who are carrying their minimal 10 poounds total gear and food) striding rapidly along the trail, heads down, eyes focussed on the trail 5 feet in front of them. When you ask them in camp that evening how they liked the view of Mt. Awesome from the crest of High Pass, or whether they saw the herd of mountain goats, or the grizzly sow and her 2 cubs, too many stare at you and respond with "I got 35 miles in today." Nothing wrong with setting a PR for distance or feet ascended or number of images burned, if that's your bag. But you are missing a lot of what's there in the hills, woods, and wilderness."

I thought at one time I was destined to be a thru-hiker, I did not set any records, but I really got a sense of accomplishment out of it.

I had "point A to point B" bragging rights, but soon felt like I was missing out on what really mattered. It took a while for me to realize this, maybe some thru-ers can take it all in as they travel but I was focused on only one thing, the destination.

I have hiked the A.T. from Clingmans Dome, sobo, (southbound) to Springer Mountain GA. & I have hiked the BMT (Benton Mackaye Trail), as well as The Foothills Trail in NC./SC. and a few other trails as fast thru-hikes, and then later hiked them as a "take it all in" backpacker trips. I found the latter to be more rewarding by far, to me personally.

As far as technology, I take my cell phone with two hot batteries for emergencies, and for letting my family know I'm okay. I take my GPSR on bushwhacks mostly. Occasionally I take an Ipod, I like to listen to Classical & Native American music sometimes while fishing. I have recently purchased a cell phone that stores music like my Ipod, but I bet if I had an emergency the battery would be dead from me listening to music, so that phone is for home use only.

I do take a digital camera for various reasons, you know, for recording memories, for identifying plants,& for proving I was "there".

These things, used properly, keep us safe and enrich our experience in the back-country....... TO A POINT! When we focus on these gadgets out of habit or for entertainment, we loose our awareness to the things going on around us, and they lessen our experience in the back-country. In some cases this can be dangerous if we become distracted by them. We need to stay "tuned in" to our surroundings for several different reasons, the most important being our safety.

 

Then again, at one time, a compass was "technology" wasn't it?

I don't need no stinkin' loadstone! It's extra weight.

3:51 p.m. on March 14, 2009 (EDT)
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I usually bring my GPSr and sometimes I bring a digital camera. I pack my phone in case I get in trouble because you can often get a signal in the southern Appalachians. I don't want to get any phone calls, emails, or texts so the phone stays off, but if I break an ankle one day, I'd like to have a ranger pick me up on a service road.

9:27 a.m. on March 15, 2009 (EDT)
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The only gizmos i carry if I'm out on a pleasure trekk are a Spot and a headlamp. Coupled with a reliable guardian angel and a good emergency plan, the Spot enables me to safely go solo where i couldn't before. (or only went before i was married :) I might take a disposable camera too.

I'f Im out working, I take my Ipod touch with a small speaker to watch movies and cartoons.

Some people told me that watching movies in the backcountry was robbing me of the wilderness experience, but then sometimes I'm not there for the experience, I'm there for work! And there's nothing I like most than laying in my hammock at the end of long hard day, open a beer and watch some cartoons or listen to music.

10:04 a.m. on March 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Some people told me that watching movies in the backcountry was robbing me of the wilderness experience...

I agree with those people, but as long as I didn't hear your toy, I'd be OK with it.

Once I hear a cell ring, or music (other than played on an actual instrument), I feel as though my trip has been violated.

10:23 a.m. on March 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Once I hear a cell ring, or music (other than played on an actual instrument), I feel as though my trip has been violated.

That's true! After a few months in the bush every artificial sound is really strange. That for me includes white gas stoves, trekking poles....and up to a point perfumes in deodorant and soap. That's technology too and it's not uncommon to smell a day hiker half a mile in front of you when you're through-hiking (Going through Yosemite comes to mind). Deet is pretty bad too, but as I'm getting older I tend to use more of the stuff.

8:05 a.m. on March 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill brings up an interesting point - it is not the technology alone that distracts us from the experience, it is the need to be distracted.

We seldom enter the present, the immediacy of "Now". Frankly, I think most of us fear thought; so we keep our brains constantly churning over drivel. The electronics are one means of avoiding the present moment, the "35 miles today" is another. Good insights, Bill.

10:14 a.m. on March 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Ha!!! being a concert trombonist, you can only imagine the image drawn in my mind when I read this, big silver trombone scaring off fellow hikers and other wildlife! great posts!

10:39 a.m. on March 18, 2009 (EDT)
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"A month ago, I was spectating at the Amgen Tour of California bike race, but viewing it almost entirely through the viewfinder of my camera. Only after I downloaded the 500 or so images did I realize that I had a great view of Lance and George, side by side perfectly composed and filling the frame - I had not seen them ride by! As we were headed back to our transportation home, one of my fellow photo-spectators asked "Did you see the race?" I knew what he meant, and a couple of us said "No, I was too busy looking through the viewfinder.""

I stopped making home videos of the kids many years ago as I missed all of the events as they were happening. I had to relive birthdays and holidays from the tape since my eyes only saw the events from the viewfinder.

7:35 p.m. on March 18, 2009 (EDT)
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I take a camera and a gps and sometimes my IPOD for the evenings you know listen to a little music or audio book. I use the camera for the same reason as Trout. You know memeories and things that people may not elieve unless I could prove it, not that really matters because nothing I se can be taken from me. I use the gps to do my track and set waypoints of cool things I see a long the way. I really like looking at my tracks on google earth as well. I don't really use it for navigation. I like the map and compass method(old school Eagle Scout).

Franc said one gizmo he uses is a head lamp. I don't know if I would consider that a gizmo, more a mor covinent flashlight(just my opinion).

Overall I'd go with what bill said as well. Just don't get distracted from the reason you go out there for.

9:43 p.m. on March 19, 2009 (EDT)
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I take a camera for a few pictures and a cell phone (shut-off) in case of an emergency. I don't understand the hikers I see who are talking and text'ing as they walk/climb the trails. Or, make a call when they gain a summit. What would be the point of that?

11:16 a.m. on March 28, 2009 (EDT)
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At times I like to take along my little CCrane Radio Plus, the pocket size model. http://www.ccrane.com/radios/shortwave-radios/ccradio-swp.aspx

After a long day on the trail or at camp, I enjoy listening to the Michael Savage Show on WRVA 1140 AM out of Richmond Virginia.

I also enjoy Coast-To-Coast AM with George Nory at night.

http://www.coasttocoastam.com/

My Kodak Easyshare Digital camera is a definate must for me!

12:11 p.m. on March 28, 2009 (EDT)
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At times I like to take along my little CCrane Radio Plus, the pocket size model.

I assume you use the earbuds or headphones to preserve the peace and quiet for others?

1:28 p.m. on March 28, 2009 (EDT)
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I assume you use the earbuds or headphones to preserve the peace and quiet for others?

Honestly, it all depends. Since I am usually camping/hiking alone (I prefer it this way), I see no need to use headphones.

I prefer to camp away from people-not into groups or crowds.

Now my good friend Shawn likes the radio and the programming I listen to. So as an courtesy, I use the radio so we both can hear it. However I'm not blasting the radio. I prefer just loud enough to hear the thing.

Hope I answered your question Bill.

Oh before I forget, here is a song to cheer you up Bill. Love the Gretsch in this video. Hollow body but no f-holes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MffcQNObsg&feature=related

3:01 p.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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For electronics, I usually bring my digital camera (Canon G9), my watch/altimeter (Suunto X6), and usually my cell phone (an iPhone, but turned off and only to be used for emergencies; in years past I was very strongly morally opposed to any cell phones in the outdoors, but since I now know they can be helpful for S&R,when used properly but not relied on, and I'm now a parent, I bring it along, but turned off).

We also have a GPS that sometimes comes on hikes or backpacks, but not aways.

I admit that I hate to hear people talking on their cell phones, especially hanging out on a summit, or hiking while plugged into their MP3 players. I don't care if someone uses an MP3 player in their tent with earphones where I can't hear or see it, but that's just not for me.

4:19 p.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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I am limited by the limits of technology. I can't do the hills anymore (okay on flat ground, though) without O2 and I don't wish to be constantly tripping over the extension cord of my oxygen concentrator. :)

However, I can still remember the hills, because I never carried a camera. Socrates tried to warn us about this in the dialogue "Phaedrus" -- we may think we know something because we have read about it, but without incorporating the knowledge, we have gained nothing. In this context I understand that to be encouragement to observe your surroundings -- hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, (tasting ?) all that you can; the birds and the ants, the grass and the dust.

If I carried a camera I would probably be trying to set up a good shot photo of a circling vulture; rather than speculating why it is circling me or looking for the last hiker that caught its interest. :)

4:24 p.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes, I know what you're getting at. While I really like to take photos and have them to enjoy later, I also try to remind myself to stop and take a mental picture of what I'm seeing and experiencing.

4:43 p.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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Since I acknowledge the utility of GPS devices and PLBs/EPRIBs, I am no longer searching for a highly mobile means of dispensing a powerful electromagnetic pulse to the surrounding countryside, disabling all electronics for at least a short bit. Also, a friend has a pacemaker, and that might not be such a good thing to disable, from his POV.

I carry lots of modern technology, though. A highly engineered backpack made of nylon, polypropylene, and aluminum alloy. A similarly engineered tent with coated fabrics, anodized aluminum poles, etc. A fairly sophisticated water filtration device. A stove, either canister or MF type. Much of my clothing is high-tech. Even ropes and cords are synthetic materials and constructed by sophisticated means. My headlamp has something called "light-emitting diodes"--two different kinds, even, and focuses both near and far, with variable brightness. The batteries it uses are fairly complex, too, if I believe the commercials. And a good portion of my food is dehydrated, sealed in pouches, and so forth. My fly rod is made of graphite; I guess I gotta call that high-tech. The reel seems to be, too.

And since I enjoy a bit of music now and again, I'll bring along a small iPod. With lots of Bach and George Strait. If a book, it's gonna have real pages. (Gotta be old school on some things, anyway.) A cell phone, sometimes, but turned off and to be used only in emergency--which I labor to avoid.

Too much technology? Depends on perspective, I suppose. But even when I'm listening to Anne-Sophie Mutter play Bach, I'm often staring up into a vast and amazing network of lights perpetually hung in the heavens, and between bites of pad thai or whatever, I'm gazing at the alpenglow on the far mountains. As long as I don't have to put up with someone jabbering into his cellphone or texting incessantly, etc., I don't much care what technology others lug along.

5:52 p.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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....If I carried a camera I would probably be trying to set up a good shot photo of a circling vulture...

As my primary mentor in photography (a famous photographer who is no longer with us) told me, if you do not understand and appreciate your subject, you produce only "memory shots" and never produce an image which truly captures and conveys the essence of the subject.

Or as another mentor in my professional field put it - having a saw and hammer does not make you a carpenter; having a microscope does not make you a biologist; having a telescope does not make you an astronomer.

5:55 p.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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I carry a GPS, a camera and sometimes an Ipod. I really enjoy listening to some good music while sitting and reading a book or enjoying a view. If it increases my pleasure (and don't we all go into the back country for pleasure?) there shouldn't be a problem with it. The camera records some of those incredible views and provides convenient excuses to stop on those lung busting climbs!

6:18 p.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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After having camped for a week with only gear from 1908 as part of a school project, i can say without a doubt that going low tech sucks, big time. I'm all about technology as long as it doesn't bother other backcountry users.

One of the great things about being alone in the wild is that you can do anything you want without disturbing anyone. If listening to loud music is your thing and there's nobody around for 50 miles why not? I've lugged a sound system powered by a boat battery in the bush on a sled for an all-night forest party. Try to do this in an apartment without waking the neighbours...

6:30 p.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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I've read the posts again and it was mentionend many times how loud music is bad (going on evil) in the backcountry. I don't know where you guys hike, but most of the time i meet 1 person per 3 days of hiking, sometimes going 5-6 days without seing anyone. How much do you think i care about making some noise? i've screamed my lungs out just for the fun of it, or to listen to the echo and have absolutely no remorse.

If it's about an idea of purity in the wilderness good for you, but i think you're missing half the fun!

5:33 a.m. on April 8, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm an ultra-lightweight backpacker, and I don't measure my enjoyment by how many miles I've gained. I hate the forced marches that group hiking entails, so I measure my enjoyment of the outdoors by how little I need to be safe and comfortable in a hammock at the end of the day. But I never go into the back country without a windup radio/light, camera that can record stills & movies, plus a cell phone to stay in touch with friends and family, a GPS, and a solar panel charger. I'm not a cave girl, I'm a modern woman who enjoys technology as well as the outdoors. Besides, anything worn on the belt or in the bra does not count in the overall backpack weight. So there...

9:49 a.m. on April 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm too poor for technology. Bet you guys didn't see that one coming in this thread.

I mostly hike with a Kelty external frame pack. Even though it was made in '08, I don't think it's too far removed from Kelty's earlier stuff.

Almost all of my gear is either second hand or I got it on sale. One of the most expensive pieces of gear I carry is my flashlight, a SureFire G2, but that light primarily serves other purposes when I'm not camping.

I can't fathom going in without a camera. I don't find that it distracts me from the views at all. Rather, I seek out beautiful areas, even if it is a hard climb/trek and I might not have gone there otherwise.

More than once I've enjoyed a waterfall from the top, then hiked down to get a better picture, only to find other great scenes/hidden areas along the way which I would have missed if not for the camera.

12:26 p.m. on April 9, 2009 (EDT)
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... I don't know where you guys hike, but most of the time i meet 1 person per 3 days of hiking, sometimes going 5-6 days without seing anyone.....

If it's about an idea of purity in the wilderness good for you, but i think you're missing half the fun!

Hey, Canuck, you are among the very lucky. living and hiking in the Empty Lands, up there in the Frozen North of Quebec (I use the term "Canuck" in a friendly, joshing way, not the insult that it sometimes is used as). If you look at a map of the US Lower 48, you will see that even in officially designated Wilderness Areas it is hard to get more than 25-30 miles from civilization. Plus there are so many people hiking out there, planes flying over, ATVs and off-road motorcycles, etc that it is the rare area that does not have people within earshot (even when you think you are miles from the nearest person). I have climbed remote peaks in the Sierra and Rockies, finding that the last party in the register (wait! I thought this was a remote peak! What's this register doing here) signed in 10 years before, so my climbing partner and I burst out with a yodel, only to run into another party a couple days later on the trail out who make the comment about "those idiots who were yelling out there day before yesterday". I have also had the experience of being camped in a remote area a couple days backcountry day skiing in, sitting around with 4 of us playing harmonicas and singing in the evening to be surprised by another party skiing by, when we though surely the closest person was back at the trailhead, some 10-15 miles in a straight line.

Just because you can't see them doesn't mean they aren't there. Besides the critters tend to stay away from humans anyway, and stay farther away when they are forewarned by the noise.

About the only time I can say that I have been where my group or I were truly away from other people was in Antarctica at High Camp on Vinson, when we knew that it was only our party of 9, the next closest being back at Vinson Base, something like 15 km away, or when 3 of us headed out from Patriot Hills to the crashed DC6, some 8 miles from anyone else. By the way, this is not to say that you can not get into deep trouble out there, beyond help. It is possible to do that in the Open Space Reserves within 10 miles of my house. There are many parts of those reserves and parks right here on the San Francisco Peninsula and the East Bay where you can disappear and not be found (one case a few years ago where the guy's body was not found for over a year, though he was within a couple miles of the trailhead). But my preference is to remain quiet most os the time to better hear the birds, deer, the occasional bear or wildcat (mostly bobcat, but the occasional mountain lion), or in Africa, the many different sounds of the animals as they move and graze or stalk in the night, or in places like Antarctica or the Alaska Range, just listen to the wind playing a symphony like no other. One memory on Denali was sitting in our tents for 4 days, listening to the rumble and roar of the wind tearing across the the ridges above us, something like a jet engine or a rocket launch from close up, but a quality unlke those, with a vibration felt deep inside as well as the banshee howl at much higher pitch. When the storm died after that 4 days, you could hear the dripping of melt water and the soft sounds of snow sluffing off the slopes, similar but different to the sound of snow sluffing off branches of a fir tree after a heavy blizzard in the Rockies (the light powder of the Wasatch and Colorado Rockies is different from the wet snow of the Sierra).

3:11 p.m. on April 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill,

You're right again! It's much harder to get some alone time in the States. There's not much here, and i don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but the long trails are not that popular. The south boundary trail in Jasper (180Km) for example gets maybe 15-20 hikers a year!

In retrospect, it's funny how when i hike with someone it seems the only human noise that's acceptable is ours and no one else's. But when i've been out alone for a few days, i sort of welcome any faint sign of humanity (except garbage!!), like a set of fresh foot prints (who's wearing the size 10 Merrell Cameleon shoes? How far ahead he/she is?) or a distant mysterious noise that sounds like a voice.

After day 4 i hear voices everywhere anyway. Maybe enlightment doesn't come without a bit of insanity! ;)

Gecko,

Welcome, fellow hammock-camping ultra-lighter!

PS: Snowing again today....

November 26, 2014
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