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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:12:38 MST Print View

Overpopulation.
I've become wary of posting trip locations, trailhead names, and logistics on the web.
There are just too many people. And all of them have search buttons. Why attract more with pretty pictures and inspiring reports?

Sure, I'm one of those people, but hear me out.

Perhaps my thinking is a byproduct of surfing rubbing off on me, a culture in which it's considered pretty bad form- if not outright dangerous in some circles- to broadcast the locations of good waves, especially if they're not well known. A culture in which there are circles, inner circles, and inner-inner circles, all privy to different amounts of information. A culture in which keeping your mouth shut about conditions and locations is pretty standard. Many a fight occurs over this.

Last year around this time I was taken to a somewhat unknown spot by a friend, a spot that can't be seen from the road, a spot that is fairly committed in that you're in your wetsuit and hiking at least a mile before you can see if it's even working. Wetsuits are put on inside the car, boards are kept inside, out of site. Chancing a motorist seeing surfers running across the road and down the path to this spot can't happen. It turns out the wave was working really well, and I was immediately sworn to secrecy, for the third or fourth time that morning. My friend told me about the guy that showed him the spot, about how I'm the only one he's ever taken here.
A few minutes later, we see someone coming up the beach, paddling out through the rocks. "Shit, that's him!" my friend says. "If he paddles over to us, I'm going to tell him I don't know you, that you were already out here." I'm amused by the secrecy, willing to play along. But I realize my car was the only one parked in the turnout. The guy paddling out won't buy our story.
He paddles over. Polite smiles and hellos are exchanged. But there's a palpable tension in the air. Apparently they both surfed Fiji together a year ago, running into each other there by chance. My friend explains that I was sworn to secrecy, that I can be trusted. I'm met only only with a nod and a stare. We surfed, we all talked, we went our separate ways. Despite it all, that was likely the last time my friend would be trusted with guarding a spot.

__________________________

I have a few backpacking secrets, places that will likely remain so. Places that don't get trip reports or pictures that are shared. These spots might only be special to me, but I've never heard anyone talk about them, never seen evidence of others finding them, and feel it should remain so.

Of course, I also travel plenty of places that are well known. And then there are places that are sort of in between. But regardless of the popularity status of an area, I've begun questioning the wisdom of posting trail names and specific logistics on the internet. I likely won't publish them anymore, only mentioning general locations.

A wakeup call for me happened on my blog. A trip report I posted was linked by a bushcraft site. And then linked by more bushcraft sites. And then it was linked by a bunch of gun sites. And suddenly I find myself reading forum posts by scores and scores of people talking about how they should go there. Now the teacher in me wants to inspire others, to advocate...but...

...it's already too crowded out there. And the internet makes it even easier to find places and spread the word.

My thinking follows a few lines. First off, I simply like imagining that I'm the first person to find an area. I've generally stopped the personal practice of looking at anything except topos for a prospective trip. It helps keep a sense of adventure alive. In climbing terms, it's the difference between an onsight flash and a redpoint. I figure that by withholding specifics, I'm doing other prospective hikers the favor, whether they realize it or not.

In this crowded world, is it necessary to put up beautiful pictures and excite the general public to go somewhere? Sunset magazine is guilty of this all the time. Headline: "California's Ten Best Little Known Beach Campgrounds", complete with maps and directions. I cringe when I see these articles. Not so little known anymore, now I need reservations 6 months out. I've personally seen this happen to areas.

Is it selfish to not volunteer information? Does it make any difference? One could argue that certain places are well known enough. But should we publicize them anymore?

I have no issue sharing information with people privately. Would I be wrong in asking people to not pass the same information on to the general public? Is it even my business or even within my control?

I presume many will question whether or not I'm a pretentious, arrogant, and selfish A$$hole for even believing I could influence anybody or go places that others would like to follow. For not wanting to share my supposed secrets.

Am I alone?

I think back to my favorite surfing bumper sticker: SURFING SUCKS. DON'T TRY IT.

Is it time backpacking has one?

1

Edited by xnomanx on 11/11/2013 20:22:23 MST.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:20:40 MST Print View

"A culture in which there are circles, inner circles, and inner-inner circles, all privy to different amounts of information. A culture in which keeping your mouth shut about conditions and locations is pretty standard. Many a fight occurs over this."

Sounds like knowing which bars outside Fort Bragg have the best looking women - the ones who like soldiers....

But seriously, Nick G. has been preaching this for a long time. No, you're not a pretentious, arrogant, and selfish A$$hole for not wanting to share your spots of solitude and wonder. You might be for other things, I don't know, I haven't met you, but not for this.

Unfortunately, as many of us have seen far too often, people destroy places. The more people know about a really cool spot, the better chance of it being trashed. Send the masses to Yellowstone. Keep your special places to yourself and close, trusted friends.

Edited by idester on 11/11/2013 20:21:12 MST.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:24:17 MST Print View

Yeah, Nick and I have talked about this at length.

Fortunately for him, all of his special places are up some God-forsaken, parched, 110 degree canyon full of rocks and thorns. People wouldn't go even if he did share.

How about you PM me some Fort Bragg details Doug?

Edited by xnomanx on 11/11/2013 20:25:17 MST.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:33:47 MST Print View

I spent part of the day wandering around a wildlife refuge with my kids. It would not have been difficult to fill a contractor bag with all of the garbage we saw during our wanderings. I try to pick up all the garbage I see on a trail; usually return to my truck with a few to several water bottles and other goodies.

Most people suck and you're wise to keep some of these hikes secret. Just make sure that you don't upload any pictures that still have a geo tag embedded into it.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 11/11/2013 20:35:56 MST.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:36:01 MST Print View

I agree.

You know what they say, "If you want to destroy a beautiful place, make it a National Park." The hordes will ruin it. 4 million visitors a year in Yosemite. John Muir is turning over in his grave, no doubt.

Besides, if you blabber all the great places in a public forum you are not doing them any favor. Half (maybe more) of the joy is in discovery. When you tell people of these hidden places, you destroy not only the place, but the fun of discovery.

I know of Anasazi ruin sites in Utah that I won't even tell my friends how to get there. If I tell them, they'll tell others, who will tell others and others and others. Before you know it all the potshards and corn cobs are gone that the place is trammeled with foot prints and the place ends up in a guide book.

Been there done that.

Bill D

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:38:23 MST Print View

Yeah, kinda, maybe. There are a few pockets here and there, lakes with no established trail, etc. The real factor is a stack of wicked switchbacks and something more than a couple hours day hike. Sweat and blisters are the sieve for solitude.

Todd Taylor
(texasbb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:39:03 MST Print View

Not sharing is fine as long as you don't post anything at all. I always laugh at people who post a picture heavy trip report but decline to say where it was because they want to "protect" the place. Google "Streisand effect" and KYBMS.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:41:08 MST Print View

Wow, never even thought of geo tags in pictures. I don't think my camera does that, but I'm so tech-stupid I wouldn't know for sure. I assume this is primarily on wired, gps enabled devices like smart phones?





So I think that's the new policy then. General area info but no specifics unless asked privately.




I know what you're saying Todd. Anyone who was truly motivated might be able to figure out pictures. But if it was that secret, I wouldn't post anything at all.

What I wrestle with here is the desire to share. I love reading the reports of others. I presume we all do. I suppose my dilemma is how to share certain things without blowing them up through the use of simple, internet search terms.


BTW, I have already received 7 emails and PMs asking the location of the trip report I posted this morning.

Edited by xnomanx on 11/11/2013 20:48:21 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:42:49 MST Print View

I have two special places in Yosemite National Park where I've been leading people starting in 1979. Each of them is off-trail, somewhat uphill, and nobody stumbles in there by accident. They have been renamed as the Old Secret Lake and the New Secret Lake.

--B.G.--

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:47:24 MST Print View

"I assume this is primarily on wired, gps enabled devices like smart phones?"

Nope, cameras too. Here's an article from 2010 that talks about geotagging cameras (and it wasn't new then): http://reviews.cnet.com/2795-6501_7-423.html

These days I wouldn't doubt (but don't know) that most cameras include this 'feature.'

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:49:21 MST Print View

"What I wrestle with here is the desire to share."

While I always enjoy your pictures, what I most appreciate about your 'trip reports' is your interactions with those you're hiking with - Adan or your kids - and what you're thinking when you're out there. Those things are 'place independent'.

Edited by idester on 11/11/2013 20:53:01 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:51:40 MST Print View

"So I think that's the new policy then. General area info but no specifics unless asked privately."

I think Dale has a very good point about sweat and blisters filtering out the masses, although my favorite places are considerably more than a day hike away and usually a few miles off trail. So, I don't feel particularly concerned about them being overrun by hordes of littering morons, and have few reservations about writing up a trip report about some of them with enough information for an experienced hiker to have a go at them if they wish. For the few undiscovered gems that are not quite as remote, I would have to agree with Craig, Nick, et al. It's sad that we end up feeling this way, but in this increasingly over populated and ill mannered world........

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:52:30 MST Print View

Yeah, a mixed bag. I have benefitted greatly from what people have shared with me, but there are places I won't mention on the internet. Too attractive, too sensitive, etc. Surprisingly, there are some nice places that are near roads that haven't gotten trampled.

Kind of a drag when bushcrafters get a hold of something. Maybe there are responsible ones out there, but I haven't seen 'em yet. Brush shelter I spotted a couple of weeks ago. Five minutes from a road head. Not appropriate in my opinion.


HJ
Adventures in Stoving

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:57:32 MST Print View

"Sweat and blisters are the sieve for solitude."

Well said Dale, I've been to plenty of those places. Tom Kirchner showed me a few good ones this summer. We could post detailed coordinates but still very few would go.


"Surprisingly, there are some nice places that are near roads that haven't gotten trampled."

True enough Jim. We share the same backyard; I also know of a few spots that would be overrun pretty quickly if word got out. Amazing that a "secret" could even exist outside of one of the largest cities on Earth, but they're out there.

Edited by xnomanx on 11/11/2013 20:59:46 MST.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 20:57:49 MST Print View

"I assume this is primarily on wired, gps enabled devices like smart phones?"

Doug covered this but if your camera has this capability, they usually go overboard advertising it as a feature.

"What I wrestle with here is the desire to share. I love reading the reports of others."

Same here. I need to quintuple my blog subscriptions as I really love reading a good trip report. I really wish there was more TR activity here on BPL. It seems that the way you covered your TR today is fine. You narrowed down the location to Los Padres but not enough that people can overload a single trail without having an intimate knowledge of the area.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 21:21:58 MST Print View

"Sweat and blisters are the sieve for solitude."

Not necessarily. Just compare the number of people on the JMT in 2013 to 1980.
Plenty of sweat and blisters on the JMT...

Bill D.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 21:30:29 MST Print View

Funny thing is that I post some pretty detailed trip reports, reports with fairly good (I think) :) route descriptions and detailed photos like:


Then someone will write and ask where Lodgepole Saddle is even though (to me at least) the named peaks all around it pretty well place the saddle. I've gone back and retrofitted TR's with map links just to spell things out.

Apparently there are a lot of people out there for whom route finding is a lost art. :)

The other thing I notice is that relatively few people read my blog posts/TR's. Typically, I'm getting less than 100 hits per day and looking at the traffic analysis, a lot of those hits are people using search terms that brought them somewhere they really didn't want to go, like "ski". I mention "ski hut" in one post, but skiers coming to my site aren't really interested.

Still, I guess even if 30 or 40 hits a day were people actually interested in my site, that would be a lot. Most of what I post is main trail stuff. A little bit of unmarked/unknown trails that are close by. Not much if at all on historic trails that might get screwed up. I even took one down that Nick G. (from BPL) chastened me on. :)

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
It depends on 11/11/2013 22:00:29 MST Print View

It depends, I have often shared advice on places like Grayson Highlands, these places are already well known and I'm just helping a friend or BPL member get the most out of the experience by hitting the prettiest spots.

I sort of draw the line at off trail routes and/or rarely used trails. Anyone can look at Google earth and know a particular mountain range is pretty. But giving them the GPS coordinates to the best spots is another matter, might as well blaze a trail.

My camera doesn't do geotagging and I've heard its sucks batteries dry so I'd keep it turned off if I had it.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web." on 11/11/2013 22:04:03 MST Print View

John Muir willingly shared all of his favorite spots--except what he Called Shadow Lake. He kept it secret for as long as he could because he was afraid that if people discovered it, they would turn it into a summer camp. He visited it quietly over the years until finally sheep herders found it, coming down from Tuolumne Meadows. Then he published an article about it, which ends with the sheepherders--he writes, "the moneylenders have entered the temple".

We know Shadow Lake as Lake Merced. So there's that.

On the other hand, I find the whole "other people have also seen my secret spot and now it's ruined" thing puzzling. I understand that people in this thread are writing about their "secret" spots that they wish to protect from ruinous crowds of other people who won't respect them the way they do...certainly this can happen...Look at Lake Merced...but how much of this involves the romance of the 'pristine', because rarely seen, spot that retains its wildness precisely because few people look at it? we like to imagine that our favorite spots are our own. Rarely seen, except by ourselves. Somehow, the idea of other people having been to these spots makes them less special. But I wonder. All those eyes looking at the Grand Canyon haven't worn it down an inch.

Sharing beauty doesn't necessarily ruin it. Granted, bushcrafters may ruin it.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Sharing (Or Not) Locations and Logistics on the Web. on 11/11/2013 22:14:44 MST Print View

The way I look at is if you have spent a lot of time finding a "secret" place, you might was well keep it secret so it doesn't become overrun. I have posted a few trips with detailed maps, but few seem interested due to the logistical challenges -- of course I knew that would happen. Craig has gone with me on some of those trips, and I know he has his own personal favorites.

If someone has done all the hard work to find the gems, then others can do it too. For every great secret trip I have put together, there are dozens of not so great trips -- but to be honest, just getting out into the wilderness is always good -- unless you happen to run into large numbers of people. Sometimes I think there are hikers who like to see large groups of people on their trips.

Earlier this year BPLer Chad Eagle and I did one of the most spectacular loops in Joshua Tree I know of, which included a reliable water source. Actually the loop is so obvious if you have good knowledge of the park, which requires time hiking off trail to familiarize yourself. It is very unlikely anyone has ever done this loop. If I posted the details it would end up in some idiot's trail guide and would soon be a popular trail. So I am not going to tell anyone where it is; although I have invited Craig to go because I know he won't broadcast it.

I know I put some people off with my so-called attitude. But think about it -- if you spend time researching using only maps and come up with a great trip without help from others, don't you think you will feel a greater sense of achievement, adventure, or whatever emotion or sense of accomplishment such a trip would give you? Don't you think such a trip would be more rewarding than posting, "Help me plan an awesome trip?" I don't post these kinds of trip reports for my ego or bragging rights, but to encourage others to apply the same principles in creating their personal trips.

And anyone can do this if they want too. This year I hiked all over the US in places I have never been to before. With a little work I found some real gems -- some even near big cities -- and I didn't ask a single person for help, or duplicate someone's trip report. Although I feel a little guilty about the stealth trip near Naperville, IL :) -- I might have broken a few dozen ordinances, but I didn't check. I learned a while back that if you put on a wrinkled Cuben poncho, people, including law enforcement, tend to avoid you.

I do the same thing with my camper. We have secret places we can camp on a holiday weekend and be completely alone. Of course if I posted the locations of these places they would no longer be isolated. I don't feel guilty about it, as it has taken me over 30 years to accumulate my secret camping spots.

Point is, if you keep them secret they will remain secret because 99% of the population, for one reason or another, is not going to make the effort to find their own little pieces of heaven.

BTW, I am going hiking in Louisiana in a couple of weeks -- any advice on alligators?