"Because the herd seems capable of only going places it has been told about."
Other than the above quote, I didn't see this as a judgmental OP, more of a general observation.
When I read the OP, I thought about my Wonderland hike scheduled for August. Like the JMT, AT, PCT, BLT, etc this could certainly be considered a herd activity. The Wonderland has lots of red tape, only allowed to camp in designated sites, portions of the trail are within earshot of the road, access to privies, and three locations to pick up resupplies in 93 miles, hardly a wilderness experience.
But the Wonderland is popular for a reason. It offers some challenges for the average Joe with combined 44k' of ups and downs, the scenery is gorgeous, and many opportunities to see wildlife. The only other hiker on that trail I have any interest to see is my 12 y/o daughter who is joining me. I'd rather there weren't so many people and it'd be great if I could (responsibly) camp anywhere I please but I have to take the good with the bad.
So likening the Wonderland to a crowded beach.... I'm very capable of hiking elsewhere and I don't feel that my experience will somehow less special because of the volume of traffic.
Any time I want to witness herd activity, I just logon to Facebook and read the memes du jour. Apparently we're on the edge of being forced into slums, FEMA concentration camps, and DHS is preparing to invade the U.S. with 2700 MRAPs and a gazillion rounds of ammo! Gotta love groupthink.
FWIW I live in the desert portion of Washington and we've already reached 96* in May. I get my share of tumbleweed hiking but I enjoy seeing the pictures of the desert in your area Nick. It definitely has a different flavor than the Palouse.