We took a trip up to Los Padres National Forrest, a lot of it was beautiful, but there were also things that were disappointing. We go to enjoy nature, and the quiet. One of the places we visited was this water fall. It took about 45 minutes to hike up there. It was cool and quiet, just the sound of the running water. Unfortunately, over to the right was this:
Someone went to the effort of driving for like an hour or more, then hiking 45 minutes, just to vandalize the forest with a spray can. I spent some time thinking about this person. Though it was certainly immature behavior, It would seem unlikely to be a Juvenal, since it required a car to get there. I would also wonder why someone would go to the effort to hike up and back just to damage something that was better off left alone. I also had to wonder who they are at home. Do they join in on everyone’s conversations about saving the planet?
We were treated to a few other examples of inconsiderate behavior back in camp. There was evidence of someone washing their dishes in the creek, in the form of gooey food residue on the rocks. The creek is not the place for dish detergent, since it contaminates the water flowing down stream. The food residue attracts bugs and makes everyone else miserable. There was no running water at this camp, but I have also seen people wash their dishes under a faucet in camp, creating a disgusting swamp around it for everyone else to walk through.
Next is fire. The whole area is under fire restriction due to this:
There is no smoking, except inside your car, and no camp fires. A permit is needed to use a camp stove. Yet one person decided to light a fire anyhow. I wouldn’t mind so much except that people get so careless with it. They leave fires lit, build off site fires that can light roots on fire. Handled safely a camp fire would not be a problem, but repeatedly people do not. My concern become if they start a fire, I will end up the one running to get out of there. Our camp site was littered with cigarette butts, some of which were disposed of in to dry leaves. To top it all off started hearing gun fire. Upon investigating we found a couple adults firing air pistols. It would not be a big deal except that they were too close to camp. They had however, turned their kids loose with a potato gun, which was what was making all the noise. For those who don’t know, these are made out of PVC pipe, and use lighter fluid for fuel. Kids, flammable liquid, and a lighter, in the dry brush. What could go wrong? It would serve them right if the potatoes they were throwing all over attracted the bears. They didn’t see what was wrong with this, despite the signs on the camp bulletin board mentioning a $10,000 fine.
Add to this the stereo, and loud conversations at night. Of course the drinking and drugs. One group got high just before leaving and promptly ran in to an embankment 50 feet away. All of this makes it hard to enjoy what we went there to see. Nature, unmodified and unaltered. If you are quiet, you may see a deer or other wildlife. The sound of the forest is calming to the nerves. What is not needed is the people looking for a place where there is nobody to enforce the rules. We go further and further in to the mountains to get away from them, but they are going deeper as well.
We cleaned up a lot of their trash and left the camp better than it was when we got there. It is always our hope that more people will do that from our example. It is strange in a world that worries about ecology on a grand scale and shout for laws and restrictions to save the planet, that they still can’t do the simple act of cleaning up after themselves. Simpler yet, don’t put so much work in to causing damage. It is possible to hike, and watch without all the commotion. A little bit of food and water is all that is needed to survive. There is no need to contaminate 30 gallons with every meal. A bit of consideration for the forest and others in camp makes it a more pleasurable experience for everyone. The feeling of many real campers is that if you want to get drunk, play loud music, start fires, and throw trash everywhere, just stay home.