Mount Rainier National Park
It is killing me.
“Stay on the trail.”
What part of this is hard to understand?
When the Olympia Camera Club wanted an education board for the Thurston County Fair, I shot my hand up. "I'll do one. And I know what I want to be the subject." After seeing the images of people trampling the Southern California poppy super bloom, I want to help spread a photographer’s “leave no trace” ethic.
Little did I realize just how stupid people can be.
There is an epidemic of photographers, doing idiotic, unnecessary things.
This ridiculous behavior turns me into "The Snarky Traveler." I just don't get it.
When my friends from California came for a visit, we decided to take the drive to see the meadows and wildflowers on Mount Rainier. I haven't been to Paradise, and I read that there was a super bloom of wildflowers that rivaled the poppy bloom of Southern California.
It was a beautiful day and a pleasant drive. The road was clear, and the parking lot was full. The mountain was beautiful, and there were people everywhere.
Including, people walking off the trails and into the meadows.
When you leave the parking lot and approach the trailhead, there is a big sign. "Protect Fragile Meadows and Stay on Trails.”
As you walk along the trails, there are signs.
"Please stay on the trail."
And no boots signs.
"Meadow restoration Please stay on the trail.”
And even cute little no walking person signs.
I can not tell you how many people I saw walking off the trails, but it was stupefying.
I was able to hold myself together, but my law-abiding and wildflower loving travel partner (a.k.a. husband Keith) lost his composure and let loose on a guy holding a large black camera. This photographer walked through the meadow, right up to us, and he almost tripped on a "Stay on the Trail" sign.
"Do you speak English? Can you read? I love these meadows. Do you not understand that you are killing the wildflowers? Do you think you are so exceptional that you don’t need to follow the rules? There is no reason to go off the trail. Are you better than everyone else and the rules don't apply to you? The signs apply to everyone. There is a reason for all the signs that say "stay on the trail!'"
I don't think that the photographer had a clue.
It's very discouraging to see all the user made trails along the mountainside. I took plenty of photographs, and I took them while staying on the trail.
But what can I do?
Punching people in the nose for standing in the meadows will only crush more wildflowers. Talking to people is frustrating, and they ignore you. Logic doesn't seem to work either. You don't need a doctorate in Botany to see the damage throughout the mountain. And I’m sure no one gets a ticket for killing meadow vegetation.
"Uh... Who me? I was only taking a photo."
If you go to the Photography Exhibit room at the Thurston County Fair, you might pass a posterboard with small photos showing photographers being irresponsible. The subject title is "Think Before You Shoot."
Here’s the message:
Consider nature over photography.
Educate yourself about the rules for the area.
Reflect on the possible harm of your actions.
Don’t call birds, don’t chase wildlife, light up the night, or cut vegetation.
Leave no trace.
“I will not harm my subject.” A photographer’s credo.
Keep wild places wild.
Encourage other photographers to follow the rules.
The display board at the county fair isn't much, but it is something I can do.
Oh, I can also write my blog, and hope that the flowers can bloom again next year.
No wildflowers were harmed in the making of this blog. Thank you Anne and Paul for a fun hike together (despite the idiots trampling the meadows.)