Friday, March 25, 2016

A Dick Move

There are all kinds of outdoorsmen. Fishermen, hunters, hikers, kayakers, backpackers, canoeists, boaters, swimmers, climbers, runners, joggers, etc. I've met just about all of them in my rambles though the mountains and my trips kayaking down rivers and springs. And for each group there are sub-groups. For instance I have met hikers who specialize in things like orienteering and bushwhacking; that is, traveling where there are no trails by way of map and compass (or GPS device). And hikers who only go into the mountains to bag a list of peaks--for instance, only mountains in the South that are over 6,000 feet in elevation; or only summits that are the highest in a county or state. You run into some weird, specialized stuff. But it's all okay. Whatever makes people happy.

One group that I have encountered and even hiked with are the waterfall wanderers. These are people who only go into the forests to seek out waterfalls. An admirable endeavor that I very much enjoy myself. And I've spoken about how some of these guys are intense assholes. One of the things that I would encounter when speaking or interacting with them is that they would share photos of "secret" waterfalls that they had located by exploring on steep mountain slopes that have no trails, or scampering down into deep gorges to find waterfalls that were unknown to most people. These guys are among the most annoying and bothersome of outdoorsmen. "Look what I found! See these gorgeous photos? I'm not telling you where it is! HAHA!". Yeah. Real pricks.

On the one hand I can understand that they want to keep a place untouched by crowds a secret. They want to enjoy it in an unspoiled, uncrowded state. My problem, then, is with these jerks who brag about finding such a spot and then taunting their fellow hikers with the fact that they will never spill the beans. Such an act is, as they say, a dick move.

I have never discovered a waterfall that I wanted to keep secret. If I did, I'd do just that and never mention it and never show photos of the damned place. What I'd do is never tell anyone and go there from time to time to enjoy solitude. Similarly, I have found out of the way spots where I have not encountered other people and found great natural beauty. Sometimes part of me wants to keep these places a total secret. I watched as the once secluded Panthertown Valley has become a Mecca for hikers and backpackers and horseback riders and waterfall seekers and fly fishermen and whitewater enthusiasts and photographers and...well...crowds. For a while I was sorry that I'd ever mentioned the place in any of my blogs. But, of course, it wasn't my fault that the place became crowded. It's a beautiful spot and the National Forest Service promotes it and wants people to see the place and to use it as an outdoors destination. It's no one person's fault that the word got out and that so many people want to go there and see the beauty of it.

So I will continue to find beautiful wild places and brag about them. If that causes me to lose a little bit of solitude the next time I visit that spot...all I can say is that this is a big world and there are still a lot of wild corners of it where I can find some peace and quiet and some of my precious solitude. And when I do, I'll tell you about them.

View from Salt Gap, Panthertown Valley, North Carolina.

Bushwhacking near Montreat, NC.

Rowland Creek Falls, Virginia.

Rock Jock Trail, Linville Gorge.

Green Knob, Middle Prong Wilderness.

Talus field at Sherando Lake Recreation Area.

Frolictown Falls, Panthertown Valley.

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