14 votes

The end of dispersed camping

50 comments

  1. [3]
    Omnicrola
    Link
    I'm not a "country" boy, though I did grow up away from the major cities. The city I grew up in was about 40k so it's not exactly rustic. That said, my parents made a point of taking the family...

    I'm not a "country" boy, though I did grow up away from the major cities. The city I grew up in was about 40k so it's not exactly rustic. That said, my parents made a point of taking the family camping at least once a year. What this article refers to as "dispersed" camping, that's what camping is to me. No electricity, no running water, no shelter except what you bring. And if you bring an RV you're doing it wrong.

    Doing that instilled in me and my siblings the basic rules that I'm guessing a lot of people who are trying this for the first time either don't know or don't take seriously. Leave no trace. Pack out what you pack in. Don't destroy things. It's both a consideration for other people and for nature itself.

    15 votes
    1. [2]
      Atvelonis
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      This article is one of many that continue to analyze wilderness engagement through the lens of feigned collectivism, but really just broadly applied individualism. i.e. looking at a group of...
      • Exemplary

      This article is one of many that continue to analyze wilderness engagement through the lens of feigned collectivism, but really just broadly applied individualism. i.e. looking at a group of people doing a thing and then finding a scapegoat within the group instead of analyzing the steps that led them to do whatever idiotic thing they're being censured for. From the article:

      This is the kind of behavior that will reduce our dispersed camping opportunities. If folks can’t be bothered to clean up after themselves and refrain from scrawling their initials in aspen trees, spray-painting a rock face, driving their ATVs across an untracked meadow or constructing some silly cairn made from displaced river rocks, they likely shouldn’t be camping in the first place. More damage will lead to more closures by land-management agencies, and rightly so.

      Quite an observation! Inconsiderate people do inconsiderate things. It's seriously not helpful to make surface-level observations about "bad apples" (I despise this analogy) ruining the fun for everyone, when in fact literally any action in this context is the effect of an issue that is not specific to the wilderness and also not something that should be exclusively analyzed through the lens of protecting the natural world. It's bigger than that; the problem here is with the way that we perceive our place in the universe. The question to ask oneself is, "What grounds my worldly perspective, and why?"


      Doing that instilled in me and my siblings the basic rules that I'm guessing a lot of people who are trying this for the first time either don't know or don't take seriously.

      It's not malice, wilderness education is just nonexistent among the general population. From a systemic perspective, human beings cannot be expected to know anything they aren't explicitly taught, and unfortunately we don't have a robust system to teach people how to handle themselves outside of society. Trash is so commonplace in cities that it's become a staple of modern life; it's unavoidable under all but a utopian consumerist model. Because this garbage-laden is the world that we've all grown very accustomed to, it takes a specific, targeted re-education (de-education, one might say) in regard to waste production and disposal in order to understand how to exist in a space that's both shared by and characteristically devoid of other people. It's also a lot more than "throw your garbage in a trash can," which you can tell anyone to do (to varying levels of success). The issue here is that there are no trash cans in the wilderness, and that's the point. You fundamentally have to be in the mindset of "this place doesn't exist to accommodate me, and I must be reverent in and to its presence." This necessarily requires that you produce very little trash to begin with, and further that you become comfortable with your proximity to the garbage that you do produce, potentially for a long period of time—something that lots of first-time backpackers I've accommodated have had a weirdly difficult time accepting (I have to touch the trash bag? It has to go inside my pack?).

      I had the fortune to join a Boy Scout troop as a kid, in which the principles of Leave No Trace were more than just suggestions, but gospel. It was drilled into me, night and day, that I had to respect the world around me, not just as a courtesy for Mother Nature, but because leaving a bunch of garbage lying around would get me mauled by a bear. It's that primal recognition of your position and positionality that knocks an entitlement chip off your shoulder. This is not something you can teach in a training video, you have to experience it. Your first wilderness adventure has to be with someone who understands and respects the principles of Leave No Trace. They have to teach you these rules personally; they have to show you how to follow them. They have to remind you that you don't deserve a thing out there. But perhaps most importantly, they have to be telling you things that you're willing to accept; you have to already be living in a way that prioritizes low-impact existence at least in theory, if not in practice. And teaching that is not solely or even mostly the responsibility of wildlife educators, but social ones.

      RV camping is a foreign and tasteless concept to me. It's environmentally high-impact in a way that pitching a tent isn't (fuel use; degradation of the land the vehicle is on), and rather defeats the purpose of "getting away from it all" to begin with. I realize the elitism associated with this position, but a necessary prerequisite to appreciating (understanding) the natural world means recognizing your place in it, and you can't do that while so blatantly embracing the comforts of societal life. Clinging to your vehicle for the duration of a camping trip instills in you a sense of unnecessary security that you should feel comfortable without. It's that very security that you should seek to question, or challenge, by venturing into the wilderness. Even a casual weekend getaway should strive to be genuinely meaningful insofar as you should not be replicating your existing, abstracted lifestyle somewhere that just happens to look pretty. No doubt I'll be "No True Scotsman'd" here, but that's somewhat beside the point. Full-on asceticism might be a step too far, but it definitely doesn't hurt to take a few paces in that direction. What does it say about your values if in your search for meaning you refuse to forego even the simplest of your long-held privileges? And how might have those values been ingrained by external forces in your youth?

      Humility is just as much about inherent privilege as it is applied morals; specifically, seeing the privilege you hold in society and deconstructing it in an environment where it no longer matters (ever notice how few people from marginalized backgrounds ever go camping?). Teach that and you can apply it anywhere, especially the wilderness. So, in truth, the issue here is threefold: the entitlement that capitalism inherently encourages, the physical waste that consumerism produces, and the poor decisions that a lack of proper wilderness education causes. Focusing exclusively on the third entry in that list is a band-aid fix that ignores the systemic problems of "human beings thinking that they own the world unless someone puts them in their place." It doesn't matter how much we shame green campers for their poor wilderness etiquette, or even teach them how to do it better once they're already out there. With the right attitude, you can certainly get through to whoever you interact with—I do this with participants on every trip I lead—but the issue will recur until we change the function condition. Contrary to popular belief, that's neither impossible nor world-ending, but it does require us to take a step back and reorder some of our priorities.

      13 votes
      1. Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        I've known that this disparity existed for awhile, but hadn't really dug into the depths of it. I had superficially filed it under "different cultural rituals", which it is but I think there's...

        Humility is just as much about inherent privilege as it is applied morals; specifically, seeing the privilege you hold in society and deconstructing it in an environment where it no longer matters (ever notice how few people from marginalized backgrounds ever go camping?).

        I've known that this disparity existed for awhile, but hadn't really dug into the depths of it. I had superficially filed it under "different cultural rituals", which it is but I think there's also a lot more interesting reasons like the one you touch on here. You seem to have a very nuanced and detailed view of this, would you happen to have any reading you'd recommend on this particular topic?

  2. [8]
    WendigoTulpa
    Link
    Sadly this is how it seems to be going. I think social media shitheads are to blame. I wish we could just nuke instagram out of existence. If you're interested in learning more about the US...

    Sadly this is how it seems to be going.

    I think social media shitheads are to blame. I wish we could just nuke instagram out of existence.

    If you're interested in learning more about the US southwest and its conservation I recommend Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. He proposes an idea where people are forced to leave their vehicles in a lot on the edge of a park and then ride a bike to their destination in the park.

    Of course, this article is about BLM land and the like, so I guess it wouldn't help much.

    Reading stuff like this makes me hate people so much.

    9 votes
    1. [7]
      eladnarra
      Link Parent
      An interesting idea, but this sort of arrangement would make the outdoors even more inaccessible to disabled folks than it already is... It feels like a some folks in this thread are combining two...

      If you're interested in learning more about the US southwest and its conservation I recommend Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. He proposes an idea where people are forced to leave their vehicles in a lot on the edge of a park and then ride a bike to their destination in the park.

      An interesting idea, but this sort of arrangement would make the outdoors even more inaccessible to disabled folks than it already is...

      It feels like a some folks in this thread are combining two points - people aren't respecting nature when camping, and people are "doing camping wrong" (camping with water and electricity, and/or with an RV, or at a site accessible by car). As someone who hasn't gone camping since I became disabled (I've only stayed in cabins), I wanted to point out how discouraging it is to read some of these comments talking about how certain outdoor experiences don't count or are lesser. (@WendigoTulpa, I don't mean to single you out at all here - that one paragraph of yours was just an easy starting point for me.)

      It sounds like folks messing up dispersed camp sites is a real problem, but I think that's more of an educational issue, one that starts in childhood, and I think the solution to that is making the outdoors more accessible (in whatever way makes sense for a person) rather than a sort of... Elitism.

      4 votes
      1. [3]
        viridian
        Link Parent
        In general though, a lot of vehicle camping is absolutely brutal on the environment. The soil and turf gets torn asunder by quad bikes and RVs, the noise prevents quiet enjoyment, and spooks the...

        In general though, a lot of vehicle camping is absolutely brutal on the environment. The soil and turf gets torn asunder by quad bikes and RVs, the noise prevents quiet enjoyment, and spooks the wildlife. I'm not saying we shouldn't take disabled folks into account, but vehicles are capable of a lot of damage. Half my family have become local yokels on dirtbikes, 4-wheelers, and side-by-sides recently, and the speed at which a group of half a dozen people can obliterate miles of vegetation and topsoil is pretty disheartening.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          eladnarra
          Link Parent
          Sure, and I don't dispute that vehicles can cause damage; I'm sure in many places it makes sense to limit vehicles with some accommodations, like @j3n mentions. I don't really even like RVs,...

          Sure, and I don't dispute that vehicles can cause damage; I'm sure in many places it makes sense to limit vehicles with some accommodations, like @j3n mentions. I don't really even like RVs, personally. I was more commenting on this idea that doing anything but hiking to a remote campsite with no water or electricity is wrong and missing the point of being outdoors.

          For example, @Atvelonis's highly upvoted comment about RVs:

          RV camping is a foreign and tasteless concept to me. It's environmentally high-impact in a way that pitching a tent isn't (fuel use; degradation of the land the vehicle is on), and rather defeats the purpose of "getting away from it all" to begin with. I realize the elitism associated with this position, but a necessary prerequisite to appreciating (understanding) the natural world means recognizing your place in it, and you can't do that while so blatantly embracing the comforts of societal life. Clinging to your vehicle for the duration of a camping trip instills in you a sense of unnecessary security that you should feel comfortable without. It's that very security that you should seek to question, or challenge, by venturing into the wilderness. Even a casual weekend getaway should strive to be genuinely meaningful insofar as you should not be replicating your existing, abstracted lifestyle somewhere that just happens to look pretty.

          As a chronically ill/disabled person, replicating my "existing, abstracted lifestyle" is required for my health. I don't camp in hot weather any more because my symptoms are exacerbated by heat. I don't hike to a campsite because I physically can't. I don't go places without running water because I'm too weak to carry enough water to sustain me (and I'm supposed to drink more than the average person). Yet I wouldn't drive a quad bike through a meadow or leave trash on a trail. So it felt like some folks were conflating "doesn't respect nature" with "doesn't camp in the way I feel is proper." Turning it into an elitist issue of whether or not someone is reaching one's standards of "proper camping" is likely to turn off people to the important parts - leaving no trace, only using existing roads and paths, only camping in an RV in designated areas, etc.

          4 votes
          1. Atvelonis
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Thank you for the note. That was more of an aside from my thesis on the pedagogy of wilderness engagement in general; a break from my focus on the general and instead toward an individualized...

            Thank you for the note. That was more of an aside from my thesis on the pedagogy of wilderness engagement in general; a break from my focus on the general and instead toward an individualized example; a personal opinion from the perspective of someone who isn't disabled and to an audience who are, for the most part, also not disabled. I should have prefaced the paragraph with an explanation of who these ideas might apply to, and will try to be more careful about doing so in the future.

            I would argue that your positionality as a disabled person supersedes the "lifestyle abstraction" that would otherwise exist in an RV camping experience. As you've written above, you have to be hyper-aware of your body's needs in any outdoor experience in a way that modulates, rather than replicates, your typical routine in society—which I think I would also say is a lot less artificial than most people's to begin with. It's important to recognize the relativity of these things; the intensity of an experience is clearly personally variable, and there's no particular baseline at which camping is done "correctly" rather than "incorrectly." But for most people, I would suggest that relying on the luxuries of an RV is both not a necessity and actively harmful to the environment in a way that cannot be ignored. Impact should be minimized wherever possible, especially in fragile park ecosystems. Vehicles serve a purpose, the issue is that they're being used in a way that needlessly perpetuates consumerism.

            Like the final requests of this article, such commentary does distract from the bigger picture (as I mentioned), but I don't want to pretend that micro-level wilderness advocacy is useless, just that it's kind of a last-minute fix. Because of my own positionality I'd never use an RV, and my comment lays out why. As long as one frames it as a matter of encouraging long-term lifestyle changes, I don't think it's inappropriate to ask that people who have the privilege of being physically capable of limiting their environmental impact make a more immediate effort to do so. But yes, pedagogically, the specifics are cogs within a much larger machine.

            1 vote
      2. precise
        Link Parent
        How far should we go to make nature accessible? I'm totally onboard with inclusion of all, but as @viridian said, that inclusion comes with inherent damage to the environment.

        How far should we go to make nature accessible? I'm totally onboard with inclusion of all, but as @viridian said, that inclusion comes with inherent damage to the environment.

        3 votes
      3. [2]
        j3n
        Link Parent
        There can be both restrictive defaults and accommodations for people who are disenfranchised by the defaults. One example that comes to mind is Devils Postpile National Monument. It's at the...

        There can be both restrictive defaults and accommodations for people who are disenfranchised by the defaults. One example that comes to mind is Devils Postpile National Monument. It's at the bottom of a very windy and narrow road, so for most of the summer car access is heavily restricted. For the most part, you're required to park at the nearby ski resort and take a shuttle, but you can still drive in if you have a good reason.

        2 votes
  3. [21]
    vord
    Link
    I blame consumerism. It distracts us with shiny baubles that keep us from noticing the beauty and wonder of the natural world. It prevents people from developing the skills and mannerisms to...

    I blame consumerism. It distracts us with shiny baubles that keep us from noticing the beauty and wonder of the natural world. It prevents people from developing the skills and mannerisms to interact with nature in a healthy manner.

    How many people have never seen a full night sky? Or seen genuinely living soil? Or spent a night alone in the woods more than a mile from any other soul?

    It's a thing of beauty. If more people did it, we'd likely be calling for consolidating our civilization's footprint in order to see more of it.

    5 votes
    1. [16]
      bilbodwyer
      Link Parent
      This time last year I was driving to my brother's place late on a Friday night. The route I take goes down this old Roman road. It's straight as an arrow, and in the middle of nowhere. There's not...

      How many people have never seen a full night sky?

      This time last year I was driving to my brother's place late on a Friday night. The route I take goes down this old Roman road. It's straight as an arrow, and in the middle of nowhere. There's not a town or city for miles, and the light pollution is some of the lowest in England by all accounts. Since it was already well past midnight and they weren't waiting up for me, I took the opportunity to pull the car up, switch the lights off, and sit out on the roof for a few minutes, just taking in the stars. It was a genuinely moving sight, and at that moment I felt at absolute peace with my existence. It really put things into perspective.

      Or spent a night alone in the woods more than a mile from any other soul?

      Not gonna lie, this sounds both exhilarating and utterly terrifying! I'd be tempted to try it, but perhaps not completely on my own. I suspect it's more difficult to manage in the UK than in the USA though: wild-camping isn't strictly legal over here.

      5 votes
      1. [9]
        Thra11
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        These days, you get to take in StarLink satellites too. If you stare at the night sky for a while, you'll see a series of satellites (they reflect the sunlight, so they look like stars, but...

        just taking in the stars

        These days, you get to take in StarLink satellites too. If you stare at the night sky for a while, you'll see a series of satellites (they reflect the sunlight, so they look like stars, but moving) following each other in a low earth orbit (so they appear to be moving relatively fast).

        I suspect it's more difficult to manage in the UK than in the USA though: wild-camping isn't strictly legal over here.

        It is legal in Scotland and on Dartmoor, both of which are beautiful places to visit. I highly recommend it, provided you are respectful and follow the rules (arrive late, leave early, leave no trace, etc., etc.). (Edit: Obviously make sure you're well equipped and know what you're doing or are with somebody who does).

        3 votes
        1. bilbodwyer
          Link Parent
          I clocked a couple of those badboys the other week out at my SO's place! It was at once quite amazing and also a tad disappointing. A reminder of the progress humanity has made in so short a time,...

          These days, you get to take in StarLink satellites too. If you stare at the night sky for a while, you'll see a series of satellites (they reflect the sunlight, so they look like stars, but moving) following each other in a low earth orbit (so they appear to be moving relatively fast).

          I clocked a couple of those badboys the other week out at my SO's place! It was at once quite amazing and also a tad disappointing. A reminder of the progress humanity has made in so short a time, but also a reminder of our apparent lack of care for the beauty of the natural world.

          It is legal in Scotland and on Dartmoor, both of which are beautiful places to visit.

          I didn't know this! I'll be sure to get out before autumn properly sets in in that case.

          2 votes
        2. [7]
          camelCase
          Link Parent
          Are the StarLink satellites actually visible to the human eye? I figured they would be too small to see with the naked eye. I know the ISS is sometimes visible , but isn't that much bigger than a...

          Are the StarLink satellites actually visible to the human eye? I figured they would be too small to see with the naked eye. I know the ISS is sometimes visible , but isn't that much bigger than a satellite?

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            mono
            Link Parent
            They definitely can be, yes. I recently went dispersed camping in Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. I camped out for a night on top of a mountain so I could do some stargazing. The area is...

            They definitely can be, yes. I recently went dispersed camping in Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. I camped out for a night on top of a mountain so I could do some stargazing. The area is class 3 on the bortle dark sky scale, which isn't even that great. From nightfall till about 1 AM, I could clearly see a train of pinpoint lights about 10-15° separated from each other moving across the sky. I didn't know they were Starlink satellites until I googled it later.

            Even if they're not always visible, even if SpaceX is putting a modicum of effort to mitigate the problem for future launches, I'm still worried and pissed off. They're still planning to send up TENS OF THOUSANDS more of them. Now Amazon wants to put up its own satellite constellation. It's probably not going to be long before corporations from other countries will start doing it. There's no regulation at all.

            Not to even mention the problem they cause for astronomers, the days of being able to view a clear night sky without it crawling with man-made objects are numbered.

            4 votes
            1. [2]
              Thra11
              Link Parent
              I have to say that I find their intended purpose underwhelming: providing internet access to remote parts of the US. And it still needs a special ground-based receiver to actually connect...

              I have to say that I find their intended purpose underwhelming: providing internet access to remote parts of the US. And it still needs a special ground-based receiver to actually connect anything. It just seems like such a pointless, boring reason to go to such lengths and cause so many issues.

              4 votes
              1. vord
                Link Parent
                It's amazing the hoops companies will go to to avoid providing universal service the way they were mandated to do so in 1934. I want to know why running wires is so much harder than it was in the...

                It's amazing the hoops companies will go to to avoid providing universal service the way they were mandated to do so in 1934.

                I want to know why running wires is so much harder than it was in the 1930's.

                4 votes
          2. mat
            Link Parent
            Starlink are naked-eye visible in some conditions. Lots of satellites are visible to the human eye. Regarding size it's more about how dark and clear the sky is, the satellite's reflectivity,...

            Starlink are naked-eye visible in some conditions. Lots of satellites are visible to the human eye. Regarding size it's more about how dark and clear the sky is, the satellite's reflectivity, angle, height of orbit, time of day (well, night, but what I really mean is relative position of the sun). I spent many a night lying on my back in a field spotting shooting stars and satellites as a teenager.

            The problem with starlink is how many of them there are, combined with how few fucks Ole' Musky appears to give about astronomers and people who like the sky.

            See also: iridium flare which I've seen a couple of times. That's kinda cool though.

            3 votes
          3. [2]
            CALICO
            Link Parent
            They can be visible as their congo-line for about a week after launch, before they change their altitudes and orbits to their final tracks. SpaceX has also been working on adding sunshades, less...

            They can be visible as their congo-line for about a week after launch, before they change their altitudes and orbits to their final tracks. SpaceX has also been working on adding sunshades, less reflective coatings, and alternative unfolding techniques to minimize visibility.

            I don't find them to be very noticeable to be honest, but I am looking from Afghanistan and while the night skies can be very clear, there's also a lot of dust in the air most days. It depends. Your mileage may vary.

            2 votes
            1. Thra11
              Link Parent
              That's probably what I've seen. I assume that once they are in their final orbits, they are similarly visible, but it's less obvious what they are.

              They can be visible as their congo-line for about a week after launch, before they change their altitudes and orbits to their final tracks.

              That's probably what I've seen. I assume that once they are in their final orbits, they are similarly visible, but it's less obvious what they are.

              1 vote
      2. [3]
        mat
        Link Parent
        Mind if I ask which road? Just curious. Was it the A17? Perfectly OK if you'd rather not say because location privacy and so on.

        The route I take goes down this old Roman road. It's straight as an arrow, and in the middle of nowhere.

        Mind if I ask which road? Just curious. Was it the A17?

        Perfectly OK if you'd rather not say because location privacy and so on.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          bilbodwyer
          Link Parent
          Close, it's the A15. My brother hates driving on it because he thinks it's boring. But I find there's something slightly romantic about the idea of a road existing in one form or another for close...

          Mind if I ask which road? Just curious. Was it the A17?

          Close, it's the A15. My brother hates driving on it because he thinks it's boring. But I find there's something slightly romantic about the idea of a road existing in one form or another for close to 2 millennia.

          3 votes
          1. mat
            Link Parent
            Ah, the A15 isn't so boring. I agree there's a certain romance about it. I don't drive it often but I do think about a few thousand years of people moving up and down that part of the world when I...

            Ah, the A15 isn't so boring. I agree there's a certain romance about it. I don't drive it often but I do think about a few thousand years of people moving up and down that part of the world when I do. It's cool.

            If you want boring, the A17 is so dull it makes me want to crash the car just for something to do..

            3 votes
      3. [2]
        vord
        Link Parent
        It is, especially your first time. It's not something to jump right into with 0 experience. Start with no-electric camp sites and work up. Become familiar with the woods durig the day, go early at...

        Not gonna lie, this sounds both exhilarating and utterly terrifying! I'd be tempted to try it, but perhaps not completely on my own.

        It is, especially your first time. It's not something to jump right into with 0 experience. Start with no-electric camp sites and work up. Become familiar with the woods durig the day, go early at dawn and stay past dusk sometimes.

        Figure out the minimal amount of food to take with you. Wild animals love food, and the more you bring the more likely you'll attract them. I reccomend a few energy bars, a sandwich, and as much water as you can reasonably carry.

        And forests are not the only places that are great for this. Anywhere off the beaten path with low light pollution and aome healthy wildlife will have its own unique qualities

        3 votes
        1. viridian
          Link Parent
          It's also worth noting that animals aren't psychic, but do probably have a better sense of smell than you, and at least for bears, it's well tuned to sniff out fruit products from pretty far away....

          It's also worth noting that animals aren't psychic, but do probably have a better sense of smell than you, and at least for bears, it's well tuned to sniff out fruit products from pretty far away. In general you can minimize wild animals attempting to scavenge your food supply by only opening sealed containers on site, consuming foods fully, and eating products that don't require heating. Also try your damnedest to pick up and otherwise clean up dropped food. Earlier this year my mom was staying out in the Smokies, and someone dropped a slice of cake and never picked it up outside of the cabin she was staying in. A black bear showed up, ate it, and hung out there looking for other food for about an hour. And then came back the next four nights in a row, hoping for more food and generally causing a ruckus.

          2 votes
      4. mono
        Link Parent
        My first time camping alone, and only my second time camping period, was great and a little bit scary. The first day/night was uneventful, but the second night, it stormed HARD and it happened to...

        Not gonna lie, this sounds both exhilarating and utterly terrifying! I'd be tempted to try it, but perhaps not completely on my own.

        My first time camping alone, and only my second time camping period, was great and a little bit scary. The first day/night was uneventful, but the second night, it stormed HARD and it happened to be Halloween night. My campsite was a very short hike from a mountain peak, and I'd gone up there to watch the sunset and stargaze. I was pretty close to a dirt road where my car was, so I wasn't worried about getting lost. Not long after night fall, I could see the storm rolling in... a huge pitch black mass slowly enveloping the horizon. It was so eerie, like I was about to be swallowed or smothered by the sky.

        I made it back to my camp before the storm hit, but it lasted all night long. Super windy, tons of thunder and lightning, hard rain, cold. My tent was a small one-person thing, and even though I'm not a big guy at all, when it's being pounded by rain and wind, it feels so much more cramped. I just sat there and read a book and pondered life. A harvestman (a kind of arachnid) decided to shelter between my tent and the rain fly, and I befriended him. The only thing I was particularly worried about was a tree falling on me so I was trying to listen for any trees snapping. Not sure I would've heard anything over the sound of the rain on the tent. At one point, I had to pee so put on all my rain gear, boots, and headlamp and ventured out. It was probably the darkest dark I've ever experienced.

        I managed to get some sleep and survived the night, and then in the morning, I decided to head out. On the way out, I didn't see another human soul or car until I was about 40 miles back towards town. I was totally alone out there.

        2 votes
    2. Deimos
      Link Parent
      When I was a teenager, there was a camp that I used to spend a few weeks at every year (like a summer camp, with cabins and such, not super rustic). One year, a woman brought her parents over from...

      When I was a teenager, there was a camp that I used to spend a few weeks at every year (like a summer camp, with cabins and such, not super rustic). One year, a woman brought her parents over from Japan, and I'll always remember how awestruck they were by the night sky. They had spent their entire lives in Tokyo and never even really seen the stars before.

      As a kid that grew up in a pretty rural area of Canada, that always seemed completely unbelievable to me, but I'm sure it's actually fairly common.

      5 votes
    3. [3]
      Parameter
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Consumerism and camping aren't totally incompatible. Massive stores like Cabella and REI have high end to mid tier stuff to satisfy peoples levels of comfort/ability. I would attribute the problem...

      Consumerism and camping aren't totally incompatible. Massive stores like Cabella and REI have high end to mid tier stuff to satisfy peoples levels of comfort/ability.

      I would attribute the problem to "information overload" I'm more outdoorsy than most people having camped remotely and enjoyed it but even then sometimes just going for a hike feels boring at times if I'm alone.

      That said, going back to actual nature is a relief and really good for your well-being. Despite a lot of recent change our biology is suited to being in wilderness and you can feel that if you focus on the experience.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        vord
        Link Parent
        There is an important distinction between making/providing goods and consumerism. People will always need supplies to do stuff. Consumerism is the engrained practice of trying to fill the...

        There is an important distinction between making/providing goods and consumerism. People will always need supplies to do stuff.

        Consumerism is the engrained practice of trying to fill the hollowness of our lives with products promising to make us less unhappy.

        To indulge in some glorification of 'the old days', I can see how working as a peasant pre-industrialization could be a happier life than what many of us live now. Physical labor that produces tangible results done at a more leisurely pace.

        I think a great society could be formed by incorporating these aspects as part of solving the climate crisis. Would a semi-peasant life be so bad if we applied our modern knowledge to ease the workload and keep us healthy?

        1 vote
        1. Parameter
          Link Parent
          Sure, the distinction is fine but the consumerism really does play a big part in the camping world. It's so beyond supplying goods for a need. I'm not talking about buying some boots. There is...

          Sure, the distinction is fine but the consumerism really does play a big part in the camping world. It's so beyond supplying goods for a need.

          I'm not talking about buying some boots. There is almost a separate culture around the gear aspect of the experience and that demand is satisfied but an amazing variety.

          I keep it simple enough but having great gear and getting to use it for your hobby/activity is pretty fun.

          Edit: I don't disagree though, I do see how consumerism in a general sense provides a lot of temptation for less rewarding entertainment.

  4. precise
    Link
    I've spent a lot of time camping, I've been a lot of remote places. Nothing frustrates me more than finding litter in the back country. Now-a-days I take an extra garbage bag because I assume I'm...

    I've spent a lot of time camping, I've been a lot of remote places. Nothing frustrates me more than finding litter in the back country. Now-a-days I take an extra garbage bag because I assume I'm going to find some. It's generally a lot of bullet casings, used shooting targets, beer cans and broken beer bottles; If I stumble too close towards a town I start to see stuff like whip-its and the likes. The worst I ever saw was a local business, or tire collector, or whoever decided it was OK to dump a good 50 tires on some BLM land... yeah I couldn't fit that into my bag.

    I find the attitude surrounding public lands being "I paid for this land with my taxes I can do whatever I want" and the amount of litter on said public lands is directly related. I've also been places where public land preservation was the number one issue on everybody's mind, where you very likely would have the local militia raised if you intended to hurt the land. I thoroughly believe it is simple a matter of educating the public about the origination of our public lands, the value they offer, and the responsibility we have to them.

    5 votes
  5. [11]
    ohyran
    Link
    Ehm ok so factually ARE shared lands being trashed more now than before? I mean sounds its just more people out camping than the writer is used to and new people tend to do mistakes... and there's...

    Ehm ok so factually ARE shared lands being trashed more now than before? I mean sounds its just more people out camping than the writer is used to and new people tend to do mistakes... and there's a bit of "damn noobs coming here"

    Also - being from a free-to-roam country where its basically just "walk out in to the woods wherever and set up a camp", whats "dispersed camping" and BLM (I think Black Lives Matter but I kinda guess thats not what it means)?

    2 votes
    1. wervenyt
      Link Parent
      In the US, dispersed camping refers to camping in any of the areas in public land, usually National Parks, that allow for it without specific campsites preordained. The Bureau of Land Management...

      In the US, dispersed camping refers to camping in any of the areas in public land, usually National Parks, that allow for it without specific campsites preordained. The Bureau of Land Management designates these sorts of regulations.

      2 votes
    2. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      BLM is the Bureau of Land Management. They manage all the federal land that isn't a national park or national forest, which is where most of the campgrounds are.

      BLM is the Bureau of Land Management. They manage all the federal land that isn't a national park or national forest, which is where most of the campgrounds are.

      2 votes
    3. [3]
      precise
      Link Parent
      There has been a gradual increase in outdoors engagement due to the fact that America has been on a health kick for a decade now. Furthermore, even more people are out and about outdoors now...

      There has been a gradual increase in outdoors engagement due to the fact that America has been on a health kick for a decade now. Furthermore, even more people are out and about outdoors now because of COVID-19 quarantines. Often times, trails and outdoor activities are all there's left to do in a community because all other public forums and entertainment venues are closed. I can personally attest to this being the busiest I've ever seen most of the trails I frequent, and I've noticed an increase in litter. Bottom line here is that multiple people are crying foul because they see a problem in the increase in litter, I don't think that deserves as much skepticism as you offer. We aren't gate keeping or telling the noobs to bugger off, we just ask that they equally respect the land.

      It's only logical I guess. Rapidly increasing the general public's engagement with nature and the outdoors without a similarly rapid increase in education and you're going to see negative consequences. It's just a matter of how we handle it.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        ohyran
        Link Parent
        Ok so after people been trying to teach me this, its like a center spot that people go to and kinda fan out or at least use as base and THAT is the part thats trashed? In my head I thought it was...

        Ok so after people been trying to teach me this, its like a center spot that people go to and kinda fan out or at least use as base and THAT is the part thats trashed?
        In my head I thought it was like here where you walk out in the woods and then somehow managed to find trash in a massive forest with no roads etc sounded like someone griping randomly... But I guess I didn't understand how it works in the US is all.

        1 vote
        1. precise
          Link Parent
          I have found litter, quite literally (heh) dozens of miles from any roads or trails in the back country. I've been places where you get the feeling that you're the first person here in 50 years,...

          I have found litter, quite literally (heh) dozens of miles from any roads or trails in the back country. I've been places where you get the feeling that you're the first person here in 50 years, maybe ever and then you find a pop can. Humans are everywhere. If humans are there, they will leave an impact unless they make an conscious effort to the opposite. Popular center spots, like campgrounds will get trashed worse. That said, humans have a tendency to move and spread their impact.

          1 vote
    4. [2]
      viridian
      Link Parent
      Anecdotally, absolutely. The Appalachian trail near my mom's house is normally sparkling clean, no trash at all for multiple miles. Currently it's about twice as busy as it used to be, and...

      Ehm ok so factually ARE shared lands being trashed more now than before?

      Anecdotally, absolutely. The Appalachian trail near my mom's house is normally sparkling clean, no trash at all for multiple miles. Currently it's about twice as busy as it used to be, and infinitely more filled with random garbage. I pick up trash here and there in general, but it's pretty excessive. Water bottles probably make up 50% of all trash.

      1 vote
      1. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        I did a brief hike in Shenandoah recently and I can attest to this. More litter on the trail and also floating in the streams. Also a general lack of awareness of hiking etiquette among a lot of...

        I did a brief hike in Shenandoah recently and I can attest to this. More litter on the trail and also floating in the streams. Also a general lack of awareness of hiking etiquette among a lot of people on the trail, like the custom of allowing faster people to pass you instead of walking 2 or 3 abreast in narrow paths.

        3 votes
    5. [3]
      j3n
      Link Parent
      That's basically what dispersed camping is. In the vast majority of US National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land, you are free to camp virtually anywhere. Some of the more popular areas...

      walk out in to the woods wherever and set up a camp

      That's basically what dispersed camping is. In the vast majority of US National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land, you are free to camp virtually anywhere. Some of the more popular areas have more structure in place to manage the flow of people and limit environmental damage.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        ohyran
        Link Parent
        Ok but only in these specific forests right? See I think I am too stuck on thinking about it from a Nordic perspective so this "manage flow of people" feels odd - does everyone go to like one spot...

        Ok but only in these specific forests right? See I think I am too stuck on thinking about it from a Nordic perspective so this "manage flow of people" feels odd - does everyone go to like one spot and then spread out?

        Anyway - ignore me I think is the best - one day I will have to go to the US and camp (also one day, for every USAian here - consider this an open invite to Sweden to come camp).

        1. j3n
          Link Parent
          It probably feels different to someone from the Eastern US, but for me as a West coast guy, "these specific forests" make up a huge chunk of the total land area. And yes, everyone pretty much goes...

          It probably feels different to someone from the Eastern US, but for me as a West coast guy, "these specific forests" make up a huge chunk of the total land area. And yes, everyone pretty much goes to a handful of spots. Think of Yosemite for example.

          1 vote
  6. [6]
    Parameter
    Link
    I've spent a lot of time in nature doing 'dispersed' camping/backpacking as well as camps. I know how hard managing trash and other waste can be in both situations. It takes some maturity to...

    I've spent a lot of time in nature doing 'dispersed' camping/backpacking as well as camps. I know how hard managing trash and other waste can be in both situations. It takes some maturity to prioritize the need when you're surrounded by the experience and an "empty" environment.

    I wonder what alternatives to banning dispersed camping would be effective. Rangers could manage semi-remote waste sites to help facilitate compliance. I've been on backpacking trips where "campsites" (remote spots) were like a days walk apart and having a chance to get rid of stuff here and there would have been a convenience that would stop a lot of lazy justifications for littering.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      precise
      Link Parent
      The problem in a lot of areas with remote trash receptacles is that they hold scents, and scents attract animals, whether that be coyotes, bears, or what-have-you. Now you can animal proof the...

      The problem in a lot of areas with remote trash receptacles is that they hold scents, and scents attract animals, whether that be coyotes, bears, or what-have-you. Now you can animal proof the receptacles so that even bears can't get in, but you still haven't gotten rid of the smell. So now you've got a permanent attractant for animals, in an area where humans infrequently inhabit, in the back country possibly days away from help. I'm not down with that for obvious reasons, it increases the risk of human - wild life encounters when all we need to do alternatively is simply pack it out. It's a solution looking for a problem which in my opinion isn't that much of a problem, the outdoors isn't about convenience.

      Furthermore, I simply don't want to see a bear box style trash can when I round a corner on a trail. It's horribly intrusive when I'm trying to meditate on being in nature and nothing else.

      2 votes
      1. Parameter
        Link Parent
        You're probably correct, it isn't feasible for a lot of places and personally I'm with you, I want to see only nature as well... The problem is a section of the people who do and will keep coming...

        You're probably correct, it isn't feasible for a lot of places and personally I'm with you, I want to see only nature as well...

        The problem is a section of the people who do and will keep coming to these spots and causing issues unless they're convinced through awareness/education, harsh consequences, or basically caving to those people by a solution like I suggested. The first two won't work for a lot of those people.

    2. [3]
      Gaywallet
      Link Parent
      Charge people more to camp, use the money to create jobs for people to clean up the trash?

      I wonder what alternatives to banning dispersed camping would be effective.

      Charge people more to camp, use the money to create jobs for people to clean up the trash?

      1 vote
      1. precise
        Link Parent
        I don't like charging people more to camp. Firstly, in national parks in can get obnoxious how much you pay for a plot of dirt with a fire ring, I've seen $45/night in big national parks....

        I don't like charging people more to camp.

        • Firstly, in national parks in can get obnoxious how much you pay for a plot of dirt with a fire ring, I've seen $45/night in big national parks.
        • Secondly, anybody that's been to a big national park can attest to the multitudes of private campgrounds and the likes that surround the park. If in park prices are raised too much, folks will just go elsewhere.
        • Then there's the aspect of inclusion, by raising the price of camping you are inevitably driving lower income people away. These people paid the same portion of their taxes to public lands as anybody else, we should be sure to include them any potential solution.
        • Lastly, unless we are talking an incredible increase in already established campsites, economics of scale come into play and make in infeasible to source campground fees to create jobs. If you create more pay to stay campsites, they require maintenance and monitoring, which requires more man power. If you create pay to stay sites where they were previously free (which I suspect is how the NPS would handle this hypothetical), you are encouraging more absconding from patrons. It's pretty common to see people sneak in and out of pay sites without paying, even in national parks.

        Public lands budgets (unless it's wildland firefighting, lol) are already stretched pretty thin. My alternative to increasing the cost to camp is raising taxes or re-appropriating government funds to accommodate the increase in demand and create public education programs.

        5 votes
      2. Parameter
        Link Parent
        Hopefully not but that could work. Why not expand the federal hiring budget for parks, it could be a sort of work program on the custodial level. It seems worth it given how much of an asset our...

        Hopefully not but that could work. Why not expand the federal hiring budget for parks, it could be a sort of work program on the custodial level. It seems worth it given how much of an asset our national parks are.

        1 vote