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 17th, 2019, 1:36 am

I agree with those saying that taking down hike pages on OH would not be a good idea. The information is out already; it is better for us to use our voice/platform to help guide hikers to act better.

I enjoy Instagram, and use it fairly regularly to follow photographers, check hike conditions, and view outdoor pics. I also share hiking photos on there, although I never Geotag (I hashtag the location, if it is significant enough. Lots of hikers use hashtags for popular hikes to find out current conditions, etc.) I am part of the Instagramming generation, so no, I don't have a negative view on instagramming hikers, in particular. But as someone who considers themselves part of the "expert" hiking community, I definitely see the issue here among "new" or "casual" hikers. I think it goes beyond the "instagram users;" I think the issue is common among the whole casual/newbie/tourist hiker crowd.

From the looks of it, that trampled area up there is a fairly typical size for many summit hikes I've been on in the NW–even among less crowded summits. Perhaps once the ground becomes dirt, crowds will be able to stay on the hard surface. Signs and other user design elements (like rocks, logs, posts, wire fences, etc.) could be used to help keep people off the surrounding meadows in the summit area.

You can view the summit area on Google Maps using street-view (photo-spheres) that people have taken there recently. From the looks of that, it looks like a typical popular summit viewing area footprint (just not fully converted over to dirt, yet). I've used the "suggest to add a missing map feature" on Google Maps before, and I am a local Google Maps editor. (I used to add dozens of trails (GPS tracks) on Google Maps, before–all the Mt Adams area trails currently seen on Google Maps were added by me years ago). I believe when you suggest to add a map feature, it goes through local editors in the area to verify that the information is accurate.

To me, this looks like watching the ugly process of creating a bare ground summit area that most other established trails already have. The solution isn't to keep other hikers from public lands–the solution is to expand the trail system with more trails, more viewpoints, and more destinations to spread out the impact that crowds have.

Perhaps creating a hard (distinct) line between bare ground (viewing area for hikers), and the surrounding meadows should be worked on by trail crews or volunteers to curb the spread of the meadow destruction. If hikers see a clear boundary between bare ground (places that hikers generally view as OK to walk on), and the vegetation around it, that should encourage them stay within the boundaries more. Of course getting Leave No Trace principles out there more would help, but implementing good user design can never hurt either.

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BigBear
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by BigBear » May 17th, 2019, 8:34 am

The internet, Iphones and social media is the cause of hiking trails being used by so many people. It's a fact without debate.

I've been hiking at Memaloose Hills since the mid-90s and enjoyed the obscurity of the location until the last couple of years. This year was particularly crowded. In the days of map and compass being navigational requirements, few hikers ventured beyond signed trails unless they followed knowledgeable leaders. Now, electronic devises have taken the place of human navigation and people are parking at the trailheads in ones and twos to a vehicle.

This has led to the problem of crowded trailheads and illegal parking. For some reason, people have forgotten that parking on the shoulder means all four wheels are off the highway and that you cannot legally park on the shoulder without approx. 300 feet of visibility. The new standard seems to be: apathy over ignorance. I want to, and that's all there is to it.

Very disconcerning that the plague of the crowds has spread to the unmarked trails. Where will it stop?

Aimless
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by Aimless » May 17th, 2019, 9:14 am

The new standard seems to be: apathy over ignorance. I want to, and that's all there is to it.

That standard has been around forever among a self-selected set of people. I see it applied in lots of places, including trails and campsites all over. I don't foresee it dying out any time soon. :(

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Meiyong
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by Meiyong » May 17th, 2019, 11:03 am

This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I feel like this discussion is pretty one-sided so another viewpoint might shake things up. This sounds a lot like toxic gate-keeping to me. "I found this place a long time ago, and now I'm claiming it as mine. Only the special people I deem worthy may enter and no one else is allowed to go there." I see that a lot on waterfall pages as well. Except it's public land, technically we all own it. These places are and should always be for everyone.

The actual problem, which I agree is a problem, is bad behavior from some people. If your solution is to keep people out because of this bad behavior then everyone, including the people who found it first, should be kept out. If an area is really sensitive this is probably a good idea anyway.

A better option, in my opinion, is to address the behavior. I don't have all of the answers for how to do this, but if outdoor organizations work together they can probably come up with some. Launch a leave no trace social media campaign. Publicly shame people who commit the bad behavior. Lead clean-up groups to pick up litter. Ticket the bad parkers. Visit classrooms to teach proper respect of the wilderness. There has to be a better way than locking people out of the beauty of the outdoors.

I understand how frustrating it is to see trails become more and more crowded over the years. I don't like it either, but who am I to say that other people can't use these public spaces? Especially considering more use means more awareness and hopefully more people who will speak up when these natural spaces are in danger of being sold off, logged or mined.

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Bosterson
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by Bosterson » May 17th, 2019, 11:30 am

ElementalFX wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 1:36 am
The solution isn't to keep other hikers from public lands...
Meiyong wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:03 am
This sounds a lot like toxic gate-keeping to me. "I found this place a long time ago, and now I'm claiming it as mine. Only the special people I deem worthy may enter and no one else is allowed to go there." I see that a lot on waterfall pages as well. Except it's public land, technically we all own it. These places are and should always be for everyone.
With all due respect to both of you, this is a straw man argument. Saying "maybe we shouldn't publish some information on the internet" is not the same thing as saying "people other than me shouldn't be allowed to go there." (Full disclosure: I have never been to the Memaloose Hills and didn't have plans to go there. I'm not even sure where it is.) Again, in previous discussions about digital LNT there has been this tacit assertion by many people that there is some societal obligation to share/publicize information, and failure to do so is selfish, elitist, "toxic gatekeeping," etc. The gist of digital LNT is that the internet is different from a book, so we should approach how we publicize information on it differently than we did in the time before the internet. It has nothing to do with actual access, except to the degree that viral publicity on the internet may contribute to draconian access restrictions like the Central Cascades Wilderness Strategies Project, which were proposed and enacted by the USFS, not by people here on an internet forum.
Meiyong wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:03 am
Especially considering more use means more awareness and hopefully more people who will speak up when these natural spaces are in danger of being sold off, logged or mined.
Again, with all due respect, the assumption that increased usership correlates with increased advocacy is extremely dubious. It seems much more likely that the combination of increased usership in fewer available areas, and a changing, urbanizing, technologizing culture, will create a tragedy of the commons.
Meiyong wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:03 am
Publicly shame people who commit the bad behavior.
Isn't there enough internet vigilante-ism as it is? The scourge of public shaming/reactionary call-out culture is bad enough already. Shall we bring back the stockade?
Will hike off trail for fun.

Aimless
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by Aimless » May 17th, 2019, 11:34 am

I highly doubt that anyone's choice to refrain from using instagram, or only to file trip reports about underused trails, can be construed as "not allowing" others to use public lands, or as "toxic gate-keeping" to turn people back from hiking on public trails. Lord knows there are websites, maps, trail guides, photos, and reports covering every detail of public lands. The roads to the trailheads are not being barricaded by practicing Leave No Virtual Trace, nor are the trails being denied to anyone.

Before the internet existed the way to 'make a trail report' was to call or write your friends and tell them about your hike, or invite your neighbors over to see your slides. Choosing not to use the internet to publicize your hike is just that, a personal choice to not do something that is purely optional. As for choosing just who you tell about your favorite spots, so as to keep it a 'secret', anglers have been doing that for centuries. There is no right that compels others to take you by the hand and lead you to the places they love. The great places are out there; go out there and you'll find them. And you'll appreciate them all the more for having to work at it a bit.
Last edited by Aimless on May 17th, 2019, 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: changed one word to make my thought clearer

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Guy
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by Guy » May 17th, 2019, 2:09 pm

I see both side of this argument and I am somewhat conflicted. What I bring up below I know will not be popular but I think it's a valid question.

Re the Field guide Page I don't think it should be taken down, If the field guide is only going to be about USFS sanctioned trails then you better take the Foxglove trail down too and countless others then it becomes pretty worthless.
"Damage to the summit at one of the hills after the spring bloom season has created a trampled area is approximately an oval 42 feet wide and 63 feet long. There's no topsoil remaining on the ground except what's between the rocks that make up the subsoil and I estimate 95% of the plants have been trampled, destroying any above ground vegetation."
This damage is definitely unsightly and it would be better if it wasn't there. My question, is it more than just unsightly is it ecologically damaging? I don't know the answer but it's an incredibly small area of the hill as a whole and if the area has no plants that are unique to the summit it's hard to see how its ecologically damaging in any way even if it was a 100'x100'. It's unlikely to keep spreading down the hill because people want to stand on the top.

I just think that if the bar is set at a level where access should be restricted as soon as small area of the Summit is bare then soon there will be no access to anywhere and people need to see an experience these places in person to appreciate them.

I would ask the same questions for the Summit of Dog mt, or the old Car at Columbia Hills too. Should there be a difference in cosmetic versus ecological damage?

Just my thoughts.
hiking log & photos.
Ad monte summa aut mors

chrisca
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by chrisca » May 17th, 2019, 6:21 pm

Guy wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 2:09 pm

This damage is definitely unsightly and it would be better if it wasn't there. My question, is it more than just unsightly is it ecologically damaging? I don't know the answer but it's an incredibly small area of the hill as a whole and if the area has no plants that are unique to the summit it's hard to see how its ecologically damaging in any way even if it was a 100'x100'. It's unlikely to keep spreading down the hill because people want to stand on the top.

I just think that if the bar is set at a level where access should be restricted as soon as small area of the Summit is bare then soon there will be no access to anywhere and people need to see an experience these places in person to appreciate them.

I would ask the same questions for the Summit of Dog mt, or the old Car at Columbia Hills too. Should there be a difference in cosmetic versus ecological damage?
The white meconella (Meconella oregana) grows on this particular hill. It's a rare species and is in decline due to habitat loss. 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. The stated reason is road safety at the parking lot, but it's not the whole story of the decision.

I would like the Forest Service and State Parks to take more of a zero-tolerance approach to overuse, and close areas for restoration quickly with signage stating why. Tell people in no uncertain terms "If you want to have nice things, you need to take care of them and respect them." TKO as well bears a lot of responsibililty for the issue. Where on this website is there information about respectful use of recreation sites? Why isn't it more in-your-face? Yes, we need more trails, but we also need to do a lot more about educating for responsible use. TKO, WTA, Friends of the Gorge, etc. leave it to hikers to pick up the information through osmosis rather than making it the first and foremost thing they publish. It's highly regrettable this is the norm.

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retired jerry
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by retired jerry » May 17th, 2019, 7:57 pm

Thanks Meiyong for your opinion

"I found this place a long time ago, and now I'm claiming it as mine. Only the special people I deem worthy may enter and no one else is allowed to go there." resonates with me

I don't mind telling people about a special place to me. If I start seeing other people there, great, it's a nice place. Good to see other people enjoying it. I don't own it. I can find other places in the vicinity that still have solitude. Sometimes it's fun to have a trip where a lot of other people are.

If someone else doesn't want to share a place, fine, don't do it. I can see that also.

I can see how public shaming could get out of hand. One person could decide another deserves public shaming. Then you could have other people piling on and it becomes bullying.

I can think of a couple times where someone did something improper, like cutting switchbacks, so I told them they were causing erosion. They seemed a bit embarrassed. Another time I asked they turn their music down and they turned it up. Ha, ha, ha,...

If there's anything illegal in the Field Guide, I think it should be removed.

Webfoot
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by Webfoot » May 18th, 2019, 1:01 am

Meiyong wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:03 am
This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I feel like this discussion is pretty one-sided so another viewpoint might shake things up. This sounds a lot like toxic gate-keeping to me. "I found this place a long time ago, and now I'm claiming it as mine. Only the special people I deem worthy may enter and no one else is allowed to go there." I see that a lot on waterfall pages as well. Except it's public land, technically we all own it. These places are and should always be for everyone.
A counterpoint to your counterpoint: sometimes vetting and initiation are appropriate. For example the caving community is very discreet about cave location; I believe this is both because caves are hazardous and because they are often fragile and vandalism is sadly common. Making sure that people are both capable and respectful before admitting them to the inner circle seems entirely appropriate to me here, and pragmatic as well. If that ad hoc system fails the alternatives all seem less appealing.

Nevertheless a dispassionate evaluation of what is being protected seems necessary; is it irreplaceable geology, artifacts, critically endangered species, etc., or merely someone's solitude?

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