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Off the beaten path: Why going where nobody else goes is good for everyone
posted by John : October 1, 2017


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Pose? For a picture?


I'm a big proponent of increasing access to the outdoors. I believe that when there are more people that love the outdoors there will be more people willing to stand up and defend the outdoors. At the same time, I don't want to be in a congo line with everybody else. Plus, if everyone is going to the same place we'll love that place to death.

It's a hard thing to do, balancing the need to show people what needs protecting without destroying what we want to protect. Some groups are advocating we not provide specific locations for fragile landscapes on social media. This makes a lot of sense and you'll see a lot of my pictures from the backcountry on Instagram provide locations like, "Snoqualmie Pass," rather than anything more specific. The danger with this method of obfuscation is it quickly approaches elitism. Am I labeling my post with a vague location to preserve it for everyone or to preserve it for me?

So what's a guy to do when he wants to go for a hike on a day other trails are likely to be crowded and he isn't going in the wee hours of the morning? How about an obscure, unofficial, unmaintained trail to an otherwise insignificant outcropping of rock? This trail was built years ago by a hiker without any authorization. It doesn't go particularly far or high and is bounded by lands that can't be crossed so it's not even that long. Still, since it's not well known it is almost always empty and perfect for a walk, especially with a puppy and a dog that still thinks she's a puppy.

Odin is fast growing up and already outweighs Treen. He's not as fast or nimble, though, so she can generally get out of his way. They get along great and it's fun to see them having fun on the trail together. (And I guess Scott's an ok guy to hike with, too.)

As we discussed above, there's no epic peak at the end of the hike, but there is a nice viewpoint that served well for a picture opportunity. It's nice to have Scott along since he takes a few photos now and then (yeah, that's sarcasm) and is willing to let me repost them here.

The dogs tried to pose for pics, wrestled with sticks, and enjoyed the views. We humans did something similar. And we saw no one else.

I won't tell you where this is other than to say it's at Snoqualmie Pass. Just like at least 100 other destinations. There's nothing super special about this hike except it fit the bill on this day. Instead of looking for this spot, find your own ways to help spread the load of boots on our favorite trails. If you find something really good be sure to let other people know it's out there and it needs help, but think hard before you tell people exactly how to get there.

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