***Trigger Warning. Normally this is a family blog. I avoid some topics and euphemistically discuss others. This one is different. This blog post contains explicit photos and discussion. Fair warning.***
Shenandoah National Park and the Great Outdoors, June 19, 2021 — We have seen the future and it’s ugly. The barbarians are at the gates and they are overrunning our public parks and forests. Since the inception of the pandemic, leaders and others have urged the public to visit nature – national parks and forests, state parks and forests, regional and municipal parks, and all the rest.
People who were cooped up indoors were more than happy to oblige. They swarmed the beauty spots in droves, and they’re still coming in inordinate numbers with no end in sight
Buckle up. For every action there is a reaction. Two national parks have initiated a reservation system. No more spontaneous trips for them. Other parks have exceeded capacity and temporarily limited access. It follows that other popular places may have to follow suit and adopt similar policies.
Hoards are coming to the parks, forests, trails and the backcountry. They are ignorant and unprepared about Leave No Trace ethical practices. Leave No Trace was created to minimize the impact of the backpacking boom in the 70s and to help protect newly designated wilderness areas. Learn more about leave No Trace: http://www.lnt.org
Those of us who help maintain these spaces want you to come, but we want you to come educated and prepared to minimize your impact on these precious resources. We would hope that you could respect nature and your fellow visitors as well.
When you do something for a long time, you get jaded. You’ve seen it all. Right about then, a surprise bites you in the bum.
I found something new near the trail Saturday while we were there to clear blowdowns on the AT. It was a “PEE-BUDDY” feminine urinary funnel. Feminine urinary funnels are hardly new. Shewee, pStyle, Freshette, and others have been around for more than 20 years. They are made of silicone and are meant to last a long time. You can do an internet search if you want to learn more.
What’s different about PEE-BUDDY is that it is disposable. Thus it was trail trash when I found it, and that’s the problem. The woman who used it dropped it when she was finished. Did she think her trash would make the trail more attractive? If she anticipated the call of nature and brought her PEE-BUDDY in the first place, should she not have anticipated proper disposal? Who did she think was going to pick it up?
Like lady, handling an object upon which you’ve urinated is just what this volunteer wanted to do. Made my day. I won’t mention other feminine products and by products we also regularly find. But, I’ll let you in on a secret. Just as maintainers have nick names for the TP you drop after urinating, we call tampon applicators “Beach whistles.” Just so you know.
Opps. Forgot someone forgot their stove and a plastic bottle.
For one, my arms are getting tired lugging trash off the trail. That trash includes nearly anything you can imagine from TP tulips, wrappers, bottles, cans, dirty baby diapers, uneaten food, and discarded gear of all sorts from tents and sleeping bags to ill-fitting boots to wet clothing. Part of this is what I signed up for, but it’s getting worse.
Trash bag contents.
Regular readers of this space hardly ever see a photo of a ridgerunner or maintainer without a bag of trash. We anticipate ignorant and unprepared people coming out. It is in part why we’re there. But it’s at another level since the pandemic.
Grafitti and tagging are multiplying. I imagine that if it’s cool to tattoo your body, marking Mother Nature seems like the right thing to do. A lot of this activity is not friendly to the families who also love to bring their children out to enjoy the outdoors.
Let’s not let an opportunity go to waste. Finding an international orange phallus painted on a tree certainly presents an opening for parents to discuss the birds and bees with their young children.
Fire pits seem to attract trash. Ninety nine percent of what people put in a fire pit does not burn! Note the trash bag. It’s full of burned cans, foil and even cigarette filters.
This has been ugly. I didn’t show you feces and other gross stuff, but it’s there — right on the trail.
Maybe the disposable urinary funnel was the straw that broke the camel’s back and launched this rant. All we need is another disposable item for the trash bag.
Everyone involved is redoubling their efforts to educate the public on Leave No Trace so that they can recreate responsibly. The PEE-BUDDY is a symptom of a larger challenge. Regardless, if the numbers continue to rise, it might not matter. You might need reservations. If I had my way, you’d have to pass an on-line Leave No Trace course in order to make them.
From Axios News:
|1 coming reality: Reservations for open spaces|
| Visitors at Adirondack Mountain Reserve. Photo: Julie Jacobson/AP|
The days of the spontaneous national park road trip may be on their way out, thanks to surging crowds and overwhelmed park rangers.
The big picture: “This year has been over the top with new visitors who really are not educated as to how to appropriately recreate,” Joette Langianese told AP.
Between the lines: Reservation systems for park entry are in place at Rocky Mountain and Yosemite National Parks, with the prospect of more. Arches National Park in Utah is on track to have its busiest year ever, causing the park to close its gates over 80 times so far in 2021, AP notes.