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balzaccom

Leaving a Mark

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We've become incensed at some of the recent news stories of idiots in our national parks and other natural places painting their names, carving their initials, stacking up piles of stones, flying their drones, or in some other way making sure that the rest of us won't experience the place in its pristine beauty.  We're happy to read that a few of them have been caught and punished severely--although not severely enough for our tastes.

 
We were mollified a bit by reading Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad, a story about his travels through Europe and the Middle East with a group of American tourists soon after the Civil War.  And he noted the same problem then.  In fact, many in his party were prone to not only carve their initials in the ruins, but also break off a bit of stone to take home...
 
"One might swear that all the John Smiths and George Wilkinsons, and all the other pitiful nobodies between Kingdom Come and Baalbec would inscribe their poor little names upon the walls of Baalbec’s magnificent ruins, and would add the town, the county and the State they came from—and swearing thus, be infallibly correct. It is a pity some great ruin does not fall in and flatten out some of these reptiles, and scare their kind out of ever giving their names to fame upon any walls or monuments again, forever."
 
Reptiles.  We're going to borrow that...

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, balzaccom said:

painting their names, carving their initials, stacking up piles of stones

I don't think I would put "tacking up piles of stones" in the save category as "painting their names, carving their initials", as in some examples I have been very impressed by the art that has been created by the piles of rocks. But this might vary from place to place.

 

As for "painting their names, carving their initials", it's the same as dogs marking that they were there. Actually worse, as the dogs' marks are mostly less permanent. The rest of us don't know who these people were who ruined the area for others, but we do know they were low brow creatures of likely limited intellect, understanding and conscience.

Edited by Goldenwattle
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If you were a premium member,  there's a fun thread you'd be interested in about "painted rocks" in Off Topic.   ;)

We've had friends and relatives "introduced" to NPS laws for participating in what they saw others doing.

Some of our popular trails are being washed out, with many blaming ATVs and mountain bikes. 

 - Yet no one seems to notice that all the rocks that were in the ground, are now stacked with the many cairns that have sprung up along them.

No reason for them to be there other than the selfie ...  

"Look at me !",   "See what I'm doing !"   Sheesh...

 

 Was gonna say more but I've got to show everyone how wonderful my salad looks.  Beautiful, isn't it ?   :)

 

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4 hours ago, balzaccom said:

We've become incensed at some of the recent news stories of idiots in our national parks and other natural places [...] stacking up piles of stones

Huh... I've backpacked in places where the trail was marked with cairns (stacks of stones). It seems odd to classify "stacking up piles of stones" with painting, carving, breaking, and... Huh... flying drones is on the list too?

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Posted (edited)

Small cairns marking a trail are a different animal from the stacks of stones piled up in groups just for the fun of it.  Those latter not only clutter the landscape and ruin the sense of natural beauty, they also conceivably confuse anyone looking for a trail.   There are places in Yosemite now that are littered with these stacks...

 

And drones?  I'm guessing that you have never been on a quiet lake in the wilderness, only to have some clown show up with a drone and buzz around all afternoon--chasing the wildlife away and pestering the rest of us with needless noise.

 

If that's the experience you want, great.  Just don't confuse that with wilderness hiking.  Do it at a city park,

Edited by balzaccom
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 Stone cairns are not a new thing. Rocks piled up on mountain tops go back a long way for instance. As long as they don't cover the whole area I usually enjoy them and they add to the landscape.

Some can be sculptural. Three examples I find interesting and some parts sculptural: NZ, USA, Iceland (there was a cache under one of those piles of rocks). Not all will see it, but others do. At the NZ one several walkers stopped to to discuss them, and not a negative thing was said about them. They only took up one corner of the trail. The rest was mostly free of them; just lined with introduced trees.

But then tastes vary. I find wind turbines sculptural too (or at least the ones I am familiar with), but some people think they are a blight on the landscape. I can't think how they could see it that way. I believe it is the way we all look at things. I love finding sculpture in things. Natural rock forms can be sculptural too. Some people just see rocks. In cities I enjoy (better) graffiti. I even find some bad graffiti photogenic; even if I think the perpetrators of bad graffiti, if caught, should be made to clean it up. (Everything shouldn't be covered in graffiti, because that detracts from the good stuff; the artworks.)

Stone cairns above Queenstown.jpg

Stone sculptures on the bar at Bar Harbor.jpg

Cache is out there.jpg

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1 hour ago, balzaccom said:

Small cairns marking a trail are a different animal from the stacks of stones piled up in groups just for the fun of it.  Those latter not only clutter the landscape and ruin the sense of natural beauty

If you say so. I thought Goldenwattle's photos were beautiful.

 

1 hour ago, balzaccom said:

And drones?  I'm guessing that you have never been on a quiet lake in the wilderness, only to have some clown show up with a drone and buzz around all afternoon--chasing the wildlife away and pestering the rest of us with needless noise.

Are other motorized devices also problematic? Are any of them actually banned?

 

I've been camping along a peaceful river, when a wedding reception started up on the other side of the river. There are other people in the world. Sometimes they make noise.

 

Sometimes they stack a few rocks on top of each other.

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In fact, drones are prohibited in all National Parks, and all motorized vehicles are prohibited in wilderness areas---even chain saws.  I know that because I volunteer on a trail crew in a national forest wilderness area, and we are required to use manpower, not machines, even when we tackle huge logs. 

 

And while I understand that one person's art is another person's eyesore---Leave No Trace Principles require us to do just that:  leave no trace of our passing. 

 

Here's a quick summary of those--which are widely adopted in our parks and wilderness areas:

 

The Leave No Trace Seven Principles

 

The Leave No Trace Seven Principles are the bedrock of the Leave No Trace program. They provide guidance to enjoy our natural world in a sustainable way that avoids human-created impacts. The principles have been adapted so they can be applied in your backyard or your backcountry.

Note: click any of the headers below for a much deeper explanation on each principle.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
    • In popular areas:
      • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
      • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
      • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
      • In pristine areas:
      • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
      • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the environment. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, balzaccom said:

In fact, drones are prohibited in all National Parks, and all motorized vehicles are prohibited in wilderness areas---even chain saws. 

Well there you go. Problem solved.

 

Although I must admit that discussing chain saws while discussing laws about motorized vehicles sounds like the beginning of one of Jeff Foxworthy's redneck jokes.

 

1 hour ago, balzaccom said:
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

Oh, no! The last time we taught Winter Survival in my Battalion unit, we had the boys build a snow shelter. Good thing it wasn't in a Wilderness Area. :o

 

1 hour ago, balzaccom said:

The principles have been adapted so they can be applied in your backyard or your backcountry.

"Honey, I'm not shirking the yardwork. I'm applying the Leave No Trace™️ philosophy to our backyard."

 

Yeah, that's it! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Edited by niraD
typo

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Ha!  I keep trying that with the lawn...  Here's what happens when you can't use a chain saw in a wilderness area

Pn5K4ALpG8ETtmbzWzS1MVzkc61-ytqWJ_RicnByNVXQXAfjtiLOt_7HoJGJpEzm_7Ka_FdLHtWXGO7w-NNbmiOHq3RtKLa6X82_hDwi3l_TnezCFeMIyS4Pad3BseSOLsS-Q1cAoXT4O2HoSseR3nIcAtGrXY8Z1LgIS1h5JCXz8UThqcLB3WG9CrdlbPRV6PpuAgf8x6r5Z9IcGSnTwOUi-fvNIAAFL42IrNzZ_B-1R6nWYUol7UqAy42ZxmzgEnDhLacSIkpx5sInxjXwDbl9xIVXui1xQ5z4d8sWt4o_vQDqM7vqmgKSijldqIy_6YrqdKvqP3pV2CBpbkVFh34aUX9X1aFsFsnWUJI4dbUggPyM-DDRVQRMzjN8_IFp_sID0iA-fo39c8Db04P6vDLRHkfwgfzigTcFfEFsAW0MZITuh0mHqp6Q6ay0NEIFMem5FZk__keQhbXSzFBWIbaS4ATVTl_HLePG8DzV2PkQYVZnVjKM3M6f-J_-pYfP9Ge6QtEo6VA2iDpkeYT8_P4Ug9l7wvVdzklVbKGXw6Mi42656kxQt_acK9gtixAvirILrBU3T_ox-PtbdntzVyqGPtVjsqI0-puv-qYwIYKdHxI3n19CgMvtqdifXl6tdX6im1bXIuRgEG0QthnzTem8CAYgQMzjYw=w795-h596-no

 

Took five of us about six hours to cut this through on each side, wiggle it free (of course it jammed in place) and roll it out of the way.

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, balzaccom said:

Took five of us about six hours to cut this through on each side, wiggle it free (of course it jammed in place) and roll it out of the way.

Fun.

 

There's a tourist steam train near us that has a long-term lease on a section of redwood forest. They are allowed to cut trees only when they fall across the track. But when the trees slowly lean closer and closer to the track, they have to move the track.

 

That seems daft to me. But that's the legal requirement specified by their lease, so that's what they do. In some cases, they do it repeatedly for the same section of track.

Edited by niraD
typo

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7 hours ago, balzaccom said:

In fact, drones are prohibited in all National Parks, and all motorized vehicles are prohibited in wilderness areas---even chain saws.  I know that because I volunteer on a trail crew in a national forest wilderness area, and we are required to use manpower, not machines, even when we tackle huge logs. 

 

And while I understand that one person's art is another person's eyesore---Leave No Trace Principles require us to do just that:  leave no trace of our passing. 

 

Here's a quick summary of those--which are widely adopted in our parks and wilderness areas:

 

The Leave No Trace Seven Principles

 

 

The Leave No Trace Seven Principles are the bedrock of the Leave No Trace program. They provide guidance to enjoy our natural world in a sustainable way that avoids human-created impacts. The principles have been adapted so they can be applied in your backyard or your backcountry.

Note: click any of the headers below for a much deeper explanation on each principle.

 

 

No chainsaws?  I like not hearing chainsaws echoing throughout the forest all day.  But I would not like manually chopping up a dead tree. :o

 

I attended a Geocaching Event where there was a speaker from “Leave No Trace”.  Many of us probably expected the principles of “Leave No Trace” to be contrary to Geocaching.  After all, we’re leaving trash all over the wilderness, cache containers, so there goes “leave no trace” already.

 

In fact, take the principles to heart, and it’s not only compatible with Geocaching, it greatly improves the situation.  The Seven Principles above are great ideas!  There’s a requirement for permission to place a cache anyway, and at that point, the land manager is in control of where the “trash” is placed, where it doesn't create problems.

 

I was surprised when I first started Geocaching to discover that the land and vegetation in a large area around GZ is destroyed by finders if the cache is tough to find.  I’m especially careful not to damage property, so I placed caches with the thought that visitors to a special area would treat the place with respect.  Wrong.

If they did, I could place much cooler caches.  I wish I could.

 

Recently I read about the rock cairns.  Many parks use them as trail markers.  But visitors to many places idly build rock towers as if they’re playing with sand castles.  Sure, they aren’t painted rocks or anything.  But once there’s a big enough mess of broken and piled things, the rules get more strict.  More fences are built.  You can’t get down to look up close at the fossils or rare plants anymore.  Now you can stick to the boardwalk, and examine some cool rocks in the visitor’s center.

 

 

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8 hours ago, balzaccom said:

Ha!  I keep trying that with the lawn...  Here's what happens when you can't use a chain saw in a wilderness area

Pn5K4ALpG8ETtmbzWzS1MVzkc61-ytqWJ_RicnByNVXQXAfjtiLOt_7HoJGJpEzm_7Ka_FdLHtWXGO7w-NNbmiOHq3RtKLa6X82_hDwi3l_TnezCFeMIyS4Pad3BseSOLsS-Q1cAoXT4O2HoSseR3nIcAtGrXY8Z1LgIS1h5JCXz8UThqcLB3WG9CrdlbPRV6PpuAgf8x6r5Z9IcGSnTwOUi-fvNIAAFL42IrNzZ_B-1R6nWYUol7UqAy42ZxmzgEnDhLacSIkpx5sInxjXwDbl9xIVXui1xQ5z4d8sWt4o_vQDqM7vqmgKSijldqIy_6YrqdKvqP3pV2CBpbkVFh34aUX9X1aFsFsnWUJI4dbUggPyM-DDRVQRMzjN8_IFp_sID0iA-fo39c8Db04P6vDLRHkfwgfzigTcFfEFsAW0MZITuh0mHqp6Q6ay0NEIFMem5FZk__keQhbXSzFBWIbaS4ATVTl_HLePG8DzV2PkQYVZnVjKM3M6f-J_-pYfP9Ge6QtEo6VA2iDpkeYT8_P4Ug9l7wvVdzklVbKGXw6Mi42656kxQt_acK9gtixAvirILrBU3T_ox-PtbdntzVyqGPtVjsqI0-puv-qYwIYKdHxI3n19CgMvtqdifXl6tdX6im1bXIuRgEG0QthnzTem8CAYgQMzjYw=w795-h596-no

 

Took five of us about six hours to cut this through on each side, wiggle it free (of course it jammed in place) and roll it out of the way.

 

That is no way to treat volunteers!  Stupid stupid stupid if they can't make exceptions. (Our parks even allow noisy things like helicopters for operational reasons, and yes, trail-maintenance chainsaws.)

 

Quit and find some organization that treats you better.

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What?  And not have the opportunity to tell these stories?  We love the work...mostly.

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On 7/12/2018 at 6:47 PM, Viajero Perdido said:
On 7/12/2018 at 10:13 AM, balzaccom said:

Ha!  I keep trying that with the lawn...  Here's what happens when you can't use a chain saw in a wilderness area

...

Took five of us about six hours to cut this through on each side, wiggle it free (of course it jammed in place) and roll it out of the way.

 

That is no way to treat volunteers!  Stupid stupid stupid if they can't make exceptions. (Our parks even allow noisy things like helicopters for operational reasons, and yes, trail-maintenance chainsaws.)

 

While I understand the prohibition, I tend to agree with VP about making exceptions for trail work.  I mean, imagine how much more trail work could've been accomplished if those 30 man-hours were reduced to 2 with the use of a chainsaw.

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9 hours ago, noncentric said:

While I understand the prohibition, I tend to agree with VP about making exceptions for trail work.  I mean, imagine how much more trail work could've been accomplished if those 30 man-hours were reduced to 2 with the use of a chainsaw.

Agreed. 

I could see if it was an area used for education, similar to a Quiet Valley   kinda thing,  but if you're a bit more free on people volunteering their time,  you'd probably see more helping.  :)

A cacher friend works a few weeks each summer with the NPS, and they simply don't do the loud stuff on weekends. 

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On 7/12/2018 at 9:10 AM, Goldenwattle said:

 Stone cairns are not a new thing. Rocks piled up on mountain tops go back a long way for instance. As long as they don't cover the whole area I usually enjoy them and they add to the landscape.

Some can be sculptural. Three examples I find interesting and some parts sculptural: NZ, USA, Iceland (there was a cache under one of those piles of rocks). Not all will see it, but others do. At the NZ one several walkers stopped to to discuss them, and not a negative thing was said about them. They only took up one corner of the trail. The rest was mostly free of them; just lined with introduced trees.

But then tastes vary. I find wind turbines sculptural too (or at least the ones I am familiar with), but some people think they are a blight on the landscape. I can't think how they could see it that way. I believe it is the way we all look at things. I love finding sculpture in things. Natural rock forms can be sculptural too. Some people just see rocks. In cities I enjoy (better) graffiti. I even find some bad graffiti photogenic; even if I think the perpetrators of bad graffiti, if caught, should be made to clean it up. (Everything shouldn't be covered in graffiti, because that detracts from the good stuff; the artworks.)

 

 

While they may look "artistic" to some people, carelessly making cairns is not a completely harmless thing to do. Official cairns are built with the intention of making sure hikers stay on the right path, and hikers who just build these for fun in random places of the trail can encourage an unsuspecting hiker to not stay on the designated trail. It only takes one seemingly harmless cairn for a careless hiker to find themselves off the trail.

 

Plus when you're moving rocks, you're contributing to erosion by exposing that soil, and potentially causing insects that burrow underneath to be without protection.

 

Some call it art, I call it graffiti; and like most graffiti, it looking nice to a few people doesn't mean it's not an eyesore for others.

Edited by CheshireCrab
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I agree, CC.  If you like stacking rocks, do it in your garden and allow your neighbors to ooh and aah.  When I go into the wilderness, I don't want to see your initials on a tree, you TP on the ground, or your stacked rocks on the horizon.  The only cairns I want to see are those put there by a trail crew to show people the way home.

 

And as noted on these boards, I do work with trail crews.  We demolish all unnecessary cairns because they can lead people astray.

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