Hayduke Regrets

TLDR

I have removed public access to my Hayduke maps because I’m done making it easier for people to enjoy exploitative hikes of that Trail. Get in touch with a personal note if you want access.


If you’re here looking for the password to my Hayduke maps, let me explain why I passworded them today (and changed the URLs of the existing maps).

I was recently included in a public thank you “shot out” from a nice-looking young man who just finished his Hayduke hike. He sounded thrilled and I’m excited for him. He thanked me for the maps, which was kind of him. But as is still common, his Instagram account looks and reads more like a travel brochure, and he made sure to hashtag and geotag all his posts, maybe in order to get more strangers/followers to share the beautiful secret with.

This makes me cringe. What’s the point of the oversharing? I ask because I’ve now shared photos of three of my hikes across Utah on my private Instagram account without hashtagging or geotagging a single one — or even mentioning where I was other than in very vague terms. AND NOBODY CARED. In three seasons of hiking ~2500 miles around Utah, fewer than five people ever cared to ask where I was exactly. Very few people knew I was thru-hiking, and life went on. It’s almost as if I did busy people a favor by just showing them pretty pictures and not adding distinct destinations to their bucket list burden. Folks do like a pretty picture and a wild story, and living vicariously is a lot easier than planning an “adventure.”

So why are we oversharing if it isn’t pride and ego?

Do we really need to behave like “adventure promoters” when we travel, sharing every detail with strangers, hashtag/geotag-whoring nature ruthlessly on social media?

Or can we keep it secret and safe?

I know I struggled about sharing the information I have for several reasons:

1) Is it accurate and will it harm someone?
2) How long will it be relevant?
3) How will it be used?

My intention was that it would be used to counter information I found to be detrimental to sensitive areas in Utah. In particular, right out the gate on my 2016 hike, the Arches “Slickrock Alternate,” which is still (unfortunately) popular, HORRIFIED me and made me almost want to quit the route. Nevermind its author’s other “alternates” (which are all essentially crude shortcuts), this one is especially offending because it’s a crude GPS track that leads folks right through numerous huge cryptobiotic soil fields — in a National Park. IN A NATIONAL PARK? Have we not learned anything? Are Hayduke hikers above the ethical standard everyone else is supposed to adhere to?

Has anyone notified the Park rangers? Maybe someone should. This GPS track should be struck from the record. And the actual Hayduke route through that area, Courthouse Wash, is fucking beautiful, for the record, with things to see (including fewer people).

Anyway, I re-traced the existing maps (which were either crude GPS tracks by fastpackers or low-res black and white maps in the trade paperback Hayduke Trail book) onto the actual trails I found and provided a lot of information/urging for people to try to stay on existing trails. I am trying to keep people from bushwhacking and cutting over crypto, which is 99% possible on this route (except in Saddle Canyon much the time).

I’m shocked how many people hike in Utah who have no clue what crypto is, who think it’s gross and should be stepped on. No! That brown crud is the last thing between Utah and extreme desertification, species loss. And they’re having a bitch of a time figuring out how to re-grow crypto where it has been trampled (probably more by cattle than by humans, but still…)

Where else now can the animals go to get away from our sprawl? And geez, humans? Where do humans go to get away from our sprawl? A few years ago, a hiker could go out on there and enjoy some solitude (with cows), but now since wannabe “influencers” are so keen on growing their follower accounts, and their followers so keen on checking every box on their ever-growing bucket lists, getting away from the sprawl and finding any sliver of true nature is getting more and more difficult – and dangerous.

Think about it: This social sharing with strangers and attention-mongering — especially on the lonesome slickrock — goes directly against the off-grain spirit that was Abbey’s Hayduke. We can have a wonderful LNT ethic ourselves, and try to share it with people, but not everyone “gets it.” We can’t see or control how they use the things we share with them, and in the sense they only knew about it because we shared it — we are responsible for the damage incurred.

Yes, this is a call-out. And I agree, just as Barack Obama pointed out the other day, call-out culture is not activism. This is a call out, but it isn’t activism, only my effort to try to spread awareness about popular conservationist (not conservative) viewpoints. On the flipside, “sharing nature” with “friends” isn’t activism either. I hear that argument frequently from people who are whoring out remote slices of nature to strangers via social media. The argument that the more people we get into the woods the safer the woods will be, is a failed argument. In the age of fractional attention spans, overpopulation, and call out culture, folks are not storming the House of Representatives or writing letters. At best they’re sending powerless text messages and signing petitions, mean-tweeting. They’re eating burgers as they speed down highways past acres and acres soon-to-be-desert cattle range, headed towards that slot canyon you extensively Go-Pro’d. The only army you’re helping to build is an army of hashtaggers who leave more than footprints.

Please go out there and enjoy the quiet. Keep it to yourself and between close friends. Trust me, it makes your experience much more precious when you do.

I’ve made the mistake of sharing beta with strangers (trying to keep people ON the trail and OFF the crypto), and regret it now. Get in touch if you want to introduce yourself, have a selfless Leave No Trace ethic, and want the free fancy maps.


(advertisement)