Hikers behaving badly: Appalachian Trail partying raises ire

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Re: Hikers behaving badly: Appalachian Trail partying raises

Postby Ed » Thu Sep 03, 2015 10:16 am

Nice defense, Zip. If one is needed. Personally, I don't care what combination of nature-love, exercise, solitude or companionship, and challenge motivates people. As long as they show respect for nature and other people, and some sense of responsibility for their own safety. And interesting your comments on the importance of time. Integrating the time requirements of this kind of activity with families and work can be a major problem, as I am sure many people on this discussion board know. It is not only addictive, it requires time to build and maintain the fitness required.

I used to run up and down the Mt. Wilson road and a few other mountain roads before I wrecked my knees. Never saw anyone else doing it then. Now you see trail runners routinely. I am in awe of them. Unlike dirt biking, it does not interfere with anybody else's enjoyment of the trail. Just makes you feel inferior, if that bothers you.
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Re: Hikers behaving badly: Appalachian Trail partying raises

Postby Wildhorse » Thu Sep 03, 2015 4:40 pm

Baxter State Park may have tried to remove its statement denouncing Jurek and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. I cannot find it on their Facebook page. I did find it, however, at this link provided by a newspaper article in the Portland Press Herald: https://www.facebook.com/baxterstatepar ... 2611969384

The newspaper article is at http://www.pressherald.com/2015/07/16/m ... tate-park/

Notice that what seems to offend the park officials is that Jurek had commercial sponsors. Apparently they could not cite him for that, so they cited him for other things. The park officials appear to have been appalled and wanted to punish him any way they could. They went berserk. Hopefully their rangers don't carry guns.

Locally in our desert, a few years ago, BLM went berserk over public protests of the land exchange, and retaliated with threats to BLM volunteer employees who opposed the land exchange. In that case, the national office of BLM told the local office to stop and to act more professionally.
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Re: Hikers behaving badly: Appalachian Trail partying raises

Postby Hikin_Jim » Sun Sep 06, 2015 7:10 am

So there's a couple of issues here. Separate issues.

First there's the issue of partying on the Appalachian Trail. Second, there's the specific issue of Mr. Jurek. Then, third, there's the larger issue of respect for the wilderness or whatever you want to call it; perhaps it should be called the issue of wilderness ethics.

With regard to the first, I can't comment on the AT having never been there, but I can comment on the PCT. I have seen people on the PCT that aren't exactly hikers in the traditional sense. The people I'm talking about don't have a long history of association with the wilderness and aren't necessarily aware of how to be sensitive toward it. They're out there for the experience of something that has been popularized; they're not out there because the PCT is the obvious progression from what they've done before. Many of the ones I've met had shockingly little knowledge of even basic things such as map reading (I tried to give directions to a lost PCT'er once and he wasn't getting it; it finally dawned on me that he didn't have a clue as to how to read a topo map!), let alone something more advanced like wilderness ethics. I've seen the bottles of tequila come out atop passes on the PCT. Now, I'm not saying that alcohol should be banned or anything like that, but I will say it is a bit different. And the emphasis certainly isn't on wilderness preservation.

As for Mr. Jurek in particular, he should not have brought in alcohol against the rules and neither should he have brought in an oversize party. Not that those are capital offenses, but if he violated the law, then he should expect to be cited. The fact that the rangers singled him out is immaterial. The government has a long history of making sure that high profile offenders get cited. They do it for a reason, and so long as the offenses actually happened, it's a legitimate practice. The littering charge in this case, if in fact it's for merely spilling champagne, is bogus. As for the other charges, if Mr. Jurek violated the law, then he should be punished, and his celebrity status should not get him off. As to whether alcohol should be allowed in Baxter State Park, that's a separate question. At the time of his citation, it was not allowed, and he therefore violated the rules. It does sound like the rangers were a bit over the top, but so long as the charges are true, in general, they should stand. The charges against a high profile person are having their intended effect: The whole nation is now aware of the rules at Baxter and aware that one stands to be punished if one violates the rules.

Now as for the last issue, the one of respect for the wilderness/wilderness ethics. This is the issue that worries me most. There are a lot of people now going out into the wilderness who have little sensitivity for it. They do things that quite literally shock me:
1. Abandoning water bottles along the trail in their attempts to get a "Fastest Known Time" (FKT) or "Personal Best".
2. Using emergency supplies for routine use so as to facilitate their own hike/run.

And I see smaller things all the time now. I'm increasingly seeing people carrying stereo equipment into the wilderness -- without headphones. It's hard for me to imagine wanting music in the wilderness. I come to get away from the artificial noise. I come for the nature, the peace, the quiet. But there are people out there playing loud music as they hike/run. No, it's not a bull dozer or a chainsaw; it leaves no lasting scar on the wilderness, but it does seem that such people have no interest in the wilderness and view it only as a personal challenge or an extended gym. Not to mention the fact that they're clueless that they're impacting other people around them who have come out for a natural experience. I've spoken to one person who was playing particularly loud music. She looked at me like I was from Mars. She did turn it down a little, but didn't turn it off. Personally, I think that people should use headphones out of respect for others.

The issue of out loud music may be a relatively minor one, but I think it's symptomatic of a larger issue: the issue of people who have no thought of "wilderness" but rather see a national forest/state park/national park as merely an extension of their local gym or city park. It's just a place to get a more intense work out or in the case of "long trail" hikers, a more intense experience.

Now, that's not necessarily to vilify anyone, Mr. Jurek included. Hopefully, a lot of this stems hopefully from ignorance (although there's no excuse for raiding emergency supplies). Perhaps publicity and public education can bring people on board with the idea of respect for and preservation of wilderness.

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Re: Hikers behaving badly: Appalachian Trail partying raises

Postby Wildhorse » Sun Sep 06, 2015 7:17 pm

Lots of bad behavior on the trails, from Maine to California. No doubt about that.

Juke's situation reminds me of the title of that famous Jonathan Edwards sermon from the puritan era. Jurek was a sinner in the hands of an angry god. The ranger god at Katahdin smote him for his wickedness.
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Re: Hikers behaving badly: Appalachian Trail partying raises

Postby Wildhorse » Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:49 pm

Here is the NYT account of the way the citation issue ended. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/10/us/ma ... .html?_r=0

One can also read Scott Jurek's account at his blog: http://blog.scottjurek.com/post/1287374 ... -dismissed

Here is a snarky editorial from Bangor Maine: http://callahan.bangordailynews.com/201 ... ur-grapes/

Here is an interview in Outside Magazine: http://www.outsideonline.com/2015426/sc ... nsequences

Note that Jurek did not hire a publicist, and did not arrange for the media event that happened on the summit. Baxter seems to have not taken time to get the facts. Jurek could have been shot by the hothead rangers. They were armed and wearing flack jackets. They were ready to shoot.

I do hope Maine reroutes the Appalachian Trail for the sake of preserving the land, but I think that the rangers at Baxter are creeps. Maybe it is best to end the trail at the Maine border.

I don't think I will be going to Maine, even though I don't drink champagne in wilderness.
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Re: Hikers behaving badly: Appalachian Trail partying raises

Postby Viper » Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:50 pm

I'm increasingly seeing people carrying stereo equipment into the wilderness


This has become a pet peeve of mine as well. I love my music, but can't imagine broadcasting it for all passersby to hear. It is out of place in the wilderness and is disrespectful to others. Just put in headphones! Or God forbid, listen to the sounds around you!
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Re: Hikers behaving badly: Appalachian Trail partying raises

Postby cynthia23 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:45 pm

Agree with you, it's completely bizarre. I will say it's behavior I see primarily on short hikes and not 'deep' in the wilderness, but it's still incredibly obnoxious. The people doing it are almost never wearing backpacks or hiker type gear; they're usually wearing something kind of spandex-y and it's very evident they see themselves as performing a 'work-out' rather than a ' hike'. In their minds, they're in a kind of gym, albeit one with a few plants. That's also why, imho, they think it's perfectly fine to toss used water bottles or gu packets--somebody, maybe a custodian, will come along to clean it up, right? And if not who cares cuz it's all just a big empty vacant lot on a hill, right?

Meanwhile, at my actual gym, cheap rock music blasts nonstop and there are TVs everywhere, even in the weight room. You can't go ten feet without seeing a soap opera or hearing the latest pop song. Patrons not utilizing either of these media are checking their smartphones. To silently focus on a given physical activity, without desperately sucking down on some kind of artificial electronic input, seems inconceivable to these folks. It's really deeply troubling. In all seriousness, these are the folks who will be the first in line to get electronic implants, which actually are close to feasible now--I mean why carry around a phone or boombox when you could have one put directly in your brain?

That's when I'm going to head for the hills, for good!
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Re: Hikers behaving badly: Appalachian Trail partying raises

Postby Hikin_Jim » Wed Sep 16, 2015 3:06 pm

"Just put in headphones!"

Here, here. Particularly in a Wilderness area, where I believe amplified music is illegal. The only exception I can think of is in Grizzly country where one can hardly be blamed for wanting to make noise. California, however, is most assuredly not Montana.

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