The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

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ElementalFX
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by ElementalFX » May 18th, 2019, 2:38 am

I agree with Meiyong.

I understand the desire to keep places secret. I have reservations about even posting trip reports on areas, if I intend on returning soon. But I also want to share these places with others, in the hope that more hikers will mean more public land advocacy. In this day and age of growing anti-public lands sentiments, that is all the more important. It is also extremely important that younger generations (who tend to be more indoor-bound), go out into nature and actually SEE these wild lands worth protecting. Ira Spring called it "green-bonding." It is the younger generation who will be our future environmentalists, trail advocates, and voices for public lands. Even if only 10% of these "new" social media hikers convert to trail advocates and environmentalists, that is better than none.


The solution, like I said before, is more trails and more available online information to help channel hikers away from popular trailheads. As it is right now, most hikers are funneled into a handful of popular, easy-access, and overused trails. Spreading out the crowds onto less utilized trails should help with crowding on our most popular trails. Creating more loop options will also help split up going-up and going-down traffic. Better enforced parking rules will also help. Of course, the only way to really do this in a large enough capacity is to increase funding for public lands.... and the best way to do this is "recruit" more public lands advocates onto our side.

There are two things I know about the younger, "social media" generation in the PNW, that at 23, I am also a part of: 1) they are very supportive of environmental issues and love nature; and 2) Love using the internet for access to information (and I am definitely like that, too). So the best way to get people off of popular trails, and onto less used trails, is the internet. There is no other substitute that will be nearly as effective at getting hikers onto less utilized trails. There is also no other medium more effective at promoting good hiking ethics, LNT principles, environmental conscientiousness, and trail advocacy, than the internet (online field guides, trip reports, etc.) Books will never have the same reach as the internet.



Being 23, I live a hiking life of two worlds. On one hand, I feel a lot more at home with the (generalizing here:)"older," solitude-seeking, more experienced hiking crowd and OH community here. I love using maps and guidebooks to plan trips. But on the other hand, I love using technology and the internet; everything from reading field guides, browsing online maps, using instagram hashtags to check current trip reports, and using GPS on my phone to navigate. Even using the internet to verify what the trails are like after I create my route on paper maps. To be honest, nearly every single hike or route I have heard of and/or been on has been through online sources.


I do believe in digital LNT, but with its limits. Publishing online hiking guides, posting trip reports, and sharing photos (on instagram, on this site, on sites like Discord, etc.) are all fine, with a few exceptions. If a place is not capable of handling huge crowds, for example, or is too dangerous for inexperienced hikers, then placing "barriers" might be better. It also depends on the reach that your post will have. If you are making a film for Oregon Field Guide or National Geographic, for example, then you will likely want to hide more access information. But if you are just sharing a trip report, then putting it under the "off-trail TR" section is good enough. As for online field guides, simple warnings will do. I do not believe simple word of mouth is good enough for people to discover new hikes, either (with exceptions, like the ultra-sensitive cave example in another comment.)


I have never been to the Memaloose Hills, before, but from what it looks like, the viewing area will pack down to dirt, just like any other summit viewing area. There are also other ways to encourage hikers to stay on the bare ground viewing area, and stay off the surrounding meadows. Maybe what it needs is a clear distinction, using barriers like fences, rocks, clean cut vegetation border, or poles. Even little signs like "Stay off of meadows" could help some.

As for the parking: several potential solutions (although funding would be the next obstacle): more enforcement against illegal parking, creating more parking space, and making the trailhead and trail official.

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retired jerry
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by retired jerry » May 18th, 2019, 4:50 am

"So the best way to get people off of popular trails, and onto less used trails, is the internet. There is no other substitute that will be nearly as effective at getting hikers onto less utilized trails. There is also no other medium more effective at promoting good hiking ethics, LNT principles, environmental conscientiousness, and trail advocacy, than the internet (online field guides, trip reports, etc.) Books will never have the same reach as the internet."

Good points.

I am an old person. Some of my old person brethren (and sistren) believe the internet is going to bring the ruination of civilization. And then say mean things about millennials. Like what's with all the body piercings and tattoos?

Same thing happened when I was a youngster. I forget what, sex, drugs, and rock and roll? were going to ruin civilization. And get your hair cut.

I think my generation did a lot of good things, and also screwed up a lot of things. I think we're leaving civilization in the good hands of younger people, thank you, sorry we didn't screw things up a little less :)

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kepPNW
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by kepPNW » May 18th, 2019, 7:02 am

chrisca wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 6:21 pm
While the Forest Service won't say it in public, one of the reasons for the permit system at Dog Mountain was the damage to the summit from crowds.
Oh, c'mon... If that were the case, why would they put no limit on hiking permits, hmm?
Karl
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adamschneider
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by adamschneider » May 18th, 2019, 8:52 am

kepPNW wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 7:02 am
chrisca wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 6:21 pm
While the Forest Service won't say it in public, one of the reasons for the permit system at Dog Mountain was the damage to the summit from crowds.
Oh, c'mon... If that were the case, why would they put no limit on hiking permits, hmm?
Umm, there IS a limit. That was the whole point. At $1.50 each, they're not exactly raking in the dough.

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kepPNW
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by kepPNW » May 18th, 2019, 9:12 am

adamschneider wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 8:52 am
kepPNW wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 7:02 am
chrisca wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 6:21 pm
While the Forest Service won't say it in public, one of the reasons for the permit system at Dog Mountain was the damage to the summit from crowds.
Oh, c'mon... If that were the case, why would they put no limit on hiking permits, hmm?
Umm, there IS a limit. That was the whole point.
Nope! There's a limit on parking. Anyone who takes the shuttle gets a free hiking permit.
Karl
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Aimless
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by Aimless » May 18th, 2019, 10:17 am

The solution, like I said before, is more trails and more available online information to help channel hikers away from popular trailheads. As it is right now, most hikers are funneled into a handful of popular, easy-access, and overused trails.

I fully agree that "more trails" would be helpful, but before that, it would be even more helpful if the FS were able to maintain the trails it already has and would desist from closing trails for lack of funds to pay for maintenance. Looking at the near future, it is impossible to see any move on the part of the Congress to address this lack of funding, so instead of "more trails" we are likely to get fewer and fewer.

As for "more online information" channeling hikers away from popular trailheads, I don't see it. When you say that 'as it is now hikers are funneled to popular, easy-access and overused trails', a very large element of 'how it is now' is the recent explosion of online information, which has so far tended to do exactly the opposite of channeling hikers away from these popular and overused trails.

I would argue that the biggest obstacle to spreading hikers out onto more trails is not a lack of online information about less popular trails. The Field Guide of OH.org is crammed with information about less popular trails, yet they remain relatively uncrowded. People simply like easy trails and big payoffs and prove it through their choices all the time. The biggest obstacles to getting people to choose less-used trails are simply that less popular trails require more work to access, often requiring a longer drive on worse roads, the trails are more difficult and steeper, the fabulous views are remote from the trailhead, or they don't really exist at all. In other words, the ratio of work required to the amount of perceived payoff is much worse on the lesser-used trails.

For me, the key word in that last sentence is "perceived". For me the payoff of hiking is being out in nature, getting to pump my legs and breathe good air, listening to the sounds of water, wind, bugs & birds, seeing the trees and plants, hearing myself think, and extracting all the physical and psychic benefits of these. You cannot train people to appreciate these payoffs through "more online information". People learn them gradually, through life experience.

Until people acquire a taste for these less-appreciated kinds of payoffs, they are not hikers, as I understand the category, but tourists, and they create all the normal problems that crowds of tourists cause. This does not make them bad people, but it does not make them hikers, either. Some of them will make the transformation into hikers, others won't. Not much can be done to ensure they do, but this is the source where most of our future hikers are going to come from.

The current friction between hikers and the hordes of trail newbies plays out wherever something special is transformed into a tourist destination. The old hands who came first grumble furiously among themselves, but eventually give up and find the next special place that hasn't been "ruined". It's like that old vaudeville joke: "There? Oh, no one goes there any more. It's too crowded!" The saving grace here is that the PNW is full of special unspoiled places worth a hiker's time and effort. We are many, many decades away from running out of these. Most people here on OH.org know this in their hearts, but the 'loss' of some beautiful places to the tourists is still fresh and painful, and we are still grieving.

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kepPNW
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by kepPNW » May 18th, 2019, 11:04 am

This seemed like as good a spot to tag on as any. Not necessarily a direct response to this, but to the notion of "overcrowding" in general...
Aimless wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 10:17 am
I would argue that the biggest obstacle to spreading hikers out onto more trails is not a lack of online information about less popular trails. The Field Guide of OH.org is crammed with information about less popular trails, yet they remain relatively uncrowded. People just like easy and big payoffs and prove it through their choices all the time. The biggest obstacles to getting people to choose less-used trails are simply that less popular trails require more work to access, often requiring a longer drive on worse roads, the trails are more difficult and steeper, the fabulous views are remote from the trailhead, or they don't really exist at all. In other words, the ratio of work required to the amount of perceived payoff is much worse on the lesser-used trails.
Five hikes so far in May, for a total of about 85 miles, we've crossed trail with fewer than 20 other hikers -- an average of one every 4.5 miles. And there wasn't really anything at all obscure about most of those miles, either, being mainly on official trails and documented here and elsewhere: Wygant-Mitchell loop (2 other hikers), Green Point Mtn (8, none beyond Indian Point), Devils Peak (0), Wilson River Trail (4), Cook-Aug-Dog (5). So much comes down to one's choices. There's no reason to hike with the hordes, unless that's what you want to do.
Karl
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adamschneider
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by adamschneider » May 18th, 2019, 6:14 pm

kepPNW wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 9:12 am
adamschneider wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 8:52 am
kepPNW wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 7:02 am

Oh, c'mon... If that were the case, why would they put no limit on hiking permits, hmm?
Umm, there IS a limit. That was the whole point.
Nope! There's a limit on parking. Anyone who takes the shuttle gets a free hiking permit.
But that shuttle has only so many seats (and round-trips). Either way, it refutes the argument that it was some sort of cash-grab by the USFS.

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kepPNW
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by kepPNW » May 18th, 2019, 6:42 pm

adamschneider wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 6:14 pm
kepPNW wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 9:12 am
adamschneider wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 8:52 am
Umm, there IS a limit. That was the whole point.
Nope! There's a limit on parking. Anyone who takes the shuttle gets a free hiking permit.
But that shuttle has only so many seats (and round-trips). Either way, it refutes the argument that it was some sort of cash-grab by the USFS.
Oh, totally agreed, it's definitely not about money. (The website operator likely gets the entire fee, anyway.) I was only saying I think it has nothing to do with crowds and the summit balding up there.
Karl
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OregonSurveyor
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by OregonSurveyor » May 18th, 2019, 6:45 pm

In fact the permit fee was reduced to only $1.00 this year, because they were able to find a ticket vending service that only charged one dollar. No money goes to the USFS. I was told directly by someone who was in the meetings that it WAS for parking safety control.
Jerry King
Oregon Land Surveyor (Retired)
SAR Volunteer - PNWSAR

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