HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Mar 26, 2016 1:22 pm

Don, that really comes across to me as a letter vs. spirit of the law example- while a wheel can in a literal sense be considered a simple machine, the more relevant wheeled devices like bicycles and motor vehicles, in the "spirit" of the law as I would read it, are considered inappropriate both by their creating mechanical advantage- removing the human from the rigors of relying on one's own body to traverse wilderness- and by generating force in ways that feet do not, with potentially much greater disturbance to the ground itself and consequent erosion issues. The wheels on your canoe do not somehow raise you above the rigors of foot travel in the wilderness- they just make the dang canoe a bit more easy-going. That's between you and and the canoe, not you and the wild.

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Don
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Don » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:36 pm

In retrospect, the tires from a hand-drawn golf cart were if not appropriate technology, they were available. Were I to do it over again (not really considering it), I'd go for a inflatable tire, and fatter at that. This would diminish the noise, and virtually eliminate any wheel tracks.
While on the topic of "advantage", I have a sail kit for my Grumman (42 sq. ft. Lateen)...on long lakes, that would certainly provide me with an travel advantage (only weighs 10 pounds)...suppose that may not 'pass the test' either.
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
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Ranger Dan
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Ranger Dan » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:11 pm

In the years that I served as a Wilderness Ranger for the U.S. Forest Service in Washington state, the issue of wheeled vehicles came up every now and then. Usually this was about bicycle use, but one time I heard of an encounter with someone using a wheeled cart to haul out elk meat. I don't think most of us really cared whether someone used wheels for something. We were enforcing the law, but very often we let incidents like this slide, and chose instead to make a friend of Wilderness by explaining why such rules and regulations exist. I did, a lot.

I think the ideas behind some of the elements of the Wilderness Act were intended to preserve the wild character of Wilderness, rather than with the intention to limit access or create challenge. Part of preserving wild character is about preserving the human experience, and for some people, just encountering someone with a modern device might spoil their experience just a bit. Perhaps that's what the drafters of the Wilderness Act had in mind when exclusion of wheels from Wilderness was decided. This is a highly subjective issue, and everybody has different ideas about what human influence is tolerable and what is not so much.

Traditional horsemen out West, in particular, are often bugged by just seeing backpackers "from the city" with all their brightly-colored gear, electronic gadgets, and jabbery conversation. They want to be in an atmosphere where things are just as they were back in the day when all the land was wild. It's not a "pretending" thing, many people just want peace and quiet and to be able to enjoy natural surroundings with minimal human impact. A wheeled cart? Not such a big deal in anybody's opinion, surely. But by eliminating wheels in Wilderness, the drafters probably figured they'd be nipping a potentially big problem in the bud. And when it comes to bicycles, they did.

I am a trail designer, builder, and maintainer. All my trails were horse trails. Horses cause exponentially more damage and erosion on trails and campsites than any other factor. Bicycles cause more damage and erosion than human feet. But this is not the issue. For horsemen, in particular, there are many dangers associated with contact with people. Some horses are easily spooked, especially with things that move fast or strangely, like a bicycle. People on horseback have been killed when their horse freaked out. Accidents happen often. I've seen them happen, and I was in one while riding, but I am not a horseman. Horse use has been around for a long time...much longer than backpackers, for example. In the early days of European settlement, nobody got around on foot. You rode a horse, and that was only a generation or two ago in the Gifford Pinchot, until the Forest Service built enough roads to go to the moon and back, and made many of the remnants of once-vast areas of wilderness easily accessible by car. Many people on horseback long for those days, when it took a whole day of riding just to get to the mountains. Nowadays, you see hordes of people in the high meadows, having hiked there in their bright colors after a short drive. Add bicycles to the crowd? What a mess that would be!

I ride a bike sometimes, in places where that is appropriate. Generally speaking, people recreating on bicycles are not so much interested in scenery, or peace and quiet, nature study, or any of the other activities that visitors go to Wilderness areas to enjoy peaceful natural surroundings. People on bicycles in Wilderness are into self-amusement. Plenty of self-amusing activities are compatible with Wilderness, as long as they do not cause resource damage, or interfere with other visitor's experience, or wildlife, or other Wilderness values. Fishing, rock climbing, canoeing, photography, etc. all involve modern technology to some extent beyond what existed in Wilderness at the time Europeans arrived in this country, and few people would object to the use of such things as tents, and rechargeable razors, for example. But playing music, big rowdy groups, and other activities that ruin other people's experience are not acceptable. As a Ranger I was frustrated many times in not being able to slap a fine on assholes that ruin it for everybody else. Only once did I encounter someone on a bicycle in Wilderness. I fined his ass. Then I built really big, obnoxious, anchored waterbars across the trail where bikers often went, totally spoiling the trail for them, but making it more erosion-resistant. On my 200 miles of trail, I installed hundreds of them. Too bad, so sad!

Bicycles, hang gliders, and other devices used by extreme sports masturbators are not appropriate in Wilderness. To them I say, "Get lost!" Just wait until I retire from my current job and volunteer as a ranger again! Look out for that mean old Ranger Dan...he'll burn your ass!

Joe

Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Joe » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:48 pm

"Traditional horsemen out West, in particular, are often bugged by just seeing backpackers "from the city" with all their brightly-colored gear, electronic gadgets, and jabbery conversation. They want to be in an atmosphere where things are just as they were back in the day when all the land was wild."

When the land was TRULY wild, that is before the white man arrived- there were no horses. Apparently those "traditional horsemen" don't know this or think the world began with the white race.
Joe

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Ranger Dan
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Ranger Dan » Sun Mar 27, 2016 1:16 pm

Joe, I tend to agree with the gist of what you seem to be saying. A lot of those horsemen are real assholes, and they and their horses caused more damage to the land than everybody else combined. Most people have selfish motives in things they do, especially on their day off. Like people in most user groups, they hold their personal agenda as a higher value than that of the land itself. But I do respect what many of them value, and that is a natural atmosphere. Often their old-fashioned camps with natural-color canvas tents, frying pans over an open fire, and such were appealing to see in their own way, though just as unnatural as road-paint yellow nylon climber's tent that I saw so many of way up high on mountainsides. Many of us long for the "good old days" before Europeans messed everything up, but it is unrealistic to expect that anyplace can be restored to a pre-European state, at least on a large scale.

People like us who value pristine places are seen by some as "elitists" who want to reserve these areas for our exclusive use. "Us" being in that view, the athletic, well-to-do, "namby-pamby environmentalists" with plenty of free time to blow, and the ability to get to remote places while sniffing posies and snapping shots of butterflies. But as for me, there are places I know I will never go, and there will come a time when I will no longer be able to hike to high mountain meadows, but I am glad they are there all the same, and will be for all time, untrammeled. (Not "untrampled", but that, too.) If I have a stroke tomorrow and am confined to a wheelchair, I will not want paved access to Wilderness.

An important element of a true Wilderness lover is SELF-SACRIFICE. We love it, even though we may not be able to be in it. It is for itself, not for us.

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KoutaR
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by KoutaR » Mon Mar 28, 2016 8:03 am

When the land was TRULY wild, that is before the white man arrived- there were no horses.
When the land was STILL MORE wild, that is before the Native Americans arrived - there WERE horses.

Joe

Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Joe » Mon Mar 28, 2016 11:22 am

KoutaR wrote:
When the land was TRULY wild, that is before the white man arrived- there were no horses.
When the land was STILL MORE wild, that is before the Native Americans arrived - there WERE horses.
yuh, some millions of years ago? I believe horses evolved in North America---

If I had a trillion dollars and that could buy me a time machine- I'd buy it- because I would thrill to seeing the world way, way, way back in time. Dinosaurs? Oh, what a thrill that would be!
Joe

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Rand
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Rand » Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:30 pm

'OohH. Wah! Wah!!
tardis.png
"I'm a Time Lord, I point at archeologists and laugh."

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KoutaR
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by KoutaR » Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:50 pm

Joe wrote:yuh, some millions of years ago? I believe horses evolved in North America---
Ca. 12,000 years ago. Native Americans extirpated them, as well as mammoths, mastodons, camels, stag-moose, shrub-ox, giant sloths, lions, saber-toother cats, giant beavers and many others.

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Don
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Don » Mon Mar 28, 2016 4:27 pm

Rand-
Was it the Native Americans that extirpated them, as well as mammoths, mastodons, camels, stag-moose, shrub-ox, giant sloths, lions, saber-toothed cats, giant beavers and many others,
or was it climate change (that was not driven by human influence)?
-Don
PS:I've a Grand Canyon National Park story about the giant Shasta sloth...: ~ }
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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