Should we share unique places (and risk losing them)?

We started Just Trails to show people the amazing places they can go and visit. And to make it as easy as possible for anyone to visit those places. But I feel compelled to say something about not ruining the scenery and history while exploring.

As a general rule, people should take only pictures and leave only foot prints. (I think I got that from the Leave No Trace website but I couldn’t find it when I went back to look) Speaking of leave no trace; for backpacking and camping, those principles are a no brainer and can be found on their website.

Think about it. You don’t really wan’t to know how many people your girlfriend slept with before you. It’s the exact same thing for your quiet secluded campsite. You want to believe you are the first human being to ever see that particular place and so is the person who comes after you.

But the thing that bothers me so much more than poor camping etiquette is when I find what would be an awesome old historic site in the middle of nowhere and it’s been wrecked. And not the kind of wrecked that winters above 10,000 feet will do, the kind that people do.

The excitement of visiting these places has a lot to do with imagining how the people lived and learning about their triumphs and struggles by studying and reflecting on what’s left behind. But if everything has been taken, or scrawled with graffiti, I can’t do that. I feel cheated and I want to get revenge on some selfish stranger who I will never meet.

By the way, damaging or removing anything from a historic site is against the law.

We aren’t going to stop sharing really cool places. We just expect that if you visit them you will leave everything like you found it, just like we did, because we can’t share it after its gone.

Also instead of getting all preachy I think I’ll just start putting pictures of lazy, careless, and selfish outdoor behavior on a facebook album and vent there.

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User Comments

  1. Sara |

    This speaks to me. This weekend I’m going to a reservoir with family for some camping. It’s a toy boy lake, full of jet skiiers, water sports, and no native trout population. It’s like we shouldn’t even call it nature..

    But I’m happy it exists so hopefully the people who want to destroy nature don’t venture in our pristine places.

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  6. Al |

    Well you know, me and Outside Magazine are pretty tight. Wait, that’s not true.

    But seriously, it’s almost like there are two forces pulling agains each other in that we want more people to get out and enjoy what’s around them, but more people mean more damage and that’s before we even include the people who do damage on purpose or through negligence.

  7. douglas |

    Thank you for writing about this. It is a very difficult decision. As active users of the wilderness, we should always take the initiative to help people realize what beauty we have surrounding us, let them see for themselves why we live the lifestyle we do, and why we support certain environmental causes and such.
    It is unfortunate that there are people that use the wilderness as their own party spots or dumping grounds. There is never going to be a way to stop these types of people. All we can do, is take the time, make an effort, to clean up after them as unpleasant as it may be (I am not yet a parent, but have packed out plenty of dirty diapers off trails in GTNP), allowing others to feel like they were indeed in a pristine setting.
    That said, as someone who gave trail information to tourists in Jackson Hole, I never sent them to my favorite trails, and I never felt guilty about it.

    Also, just saw this on Outside Mag’s site… must be the talking point of the day 😉

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