GetOffYourGas wrote:I don't know about others, but when I go backpacking, it is precisely to escape from our overly connected "cyber" world and reconnect with the natural world. If technology allows me to travel lighter while enjoying higher quality food and hiking in greater comfort, all of those things enhance the experience. Electronic communications detract from them. When I am backpacking, my phone remains in airplane mode for use effectively as a camera / emergency lifeline only.
I understand, and I'm not generally eager to talk/text on my phone while enjoying natural wonders.
However, no thanks to NPS efforts to keep cell signals from "leaking" into the backcountry, one can forget about that "emergency lifeline".
Enabling people to communicate efficiently isn't without benefits. Last summer in Yosemite's high country, we were trying to meet up with two different families without the benefit of reliable cell service. One of those families eventually found us, late, by walking around the campground. The other family left a note on the main message board, but the opportunity to meet had passed by the time we found the note. We would have loved to have gone hiking together, but couldn't connect.
Sure, there are costs in efficiency through lack of communications over distances. For me, that's a price well worth paying when I'm in the backcountry. I want to disconnect from the whole babble of electronic communications. Not having real-time comms just puts the responsibility for my own safety (and anyone I'm with) on our own heads, and who has more motivation?
The basic rule for groups was to always tell someone reliable where you were going and when you'd return, route, where you parked, license etc. so that rescuers could be alerted if you didn't show up as planned. In the meantime, you were expected to be equipped and trained to deal with likely emergency situations (I realize this is an ideal, and there are lots of unprepared people in the backcountry). But as far as taking ultimate responsibility, I'm reminded of the world-class climber who not only didn't tell anyone where he was going, he didn't tell them he was going, period - his friends would only realize they hadn't seen or heard from him after a couple of weeks went by. If he got into trouble it would almost certainly would be in a situation where trying to rescue him would put others in danger, and he was unwilling to put anyone else at risk. Or take the guy who had to amputate his own arm when it was trapped under a rock - certainly if he'd had cell service that might not have been necessary; OTOH, do we really want to inculcate the idea that the rescue is just a cellphone call away any time you're feeling a little uncomfortable? I have read credible accounts of people calling from the top of Half Dome to say that they were tired, and demanding that the rangers send a helicopter up to bring them back. I've also had conversations with ranger friends who relate similar if less ludicrous examples.
abasile wrote:More on topic, I'd also support Superchargers at major, developed destinations deep inside some very large parks where lots of driving is sort of required. Furnace Creek inside Death Valley, Grant Village inside Yellowstone, and others could make sense, given sufficient electrical infrastructure or enough solar+batteries.
Yes, such locations make practical sense. See below.
While I'm no fan of the current administration and their disregard for the environment, perhaps some good could come from loosening up some of the "purist" / Luddite thinking that currently seems to prevail in the parks. If Tesla can take advantage of the current politics and get some Superchargers and destination chargers installed in our national parks, then they should go for it!
I have a leg in both camps, which is why I tend to go back and forth. In my gut I'm pretty purist (hardly a Luddite, given the amount of money I've spent over the decades to buy high-quality, modern gear), but in my head I'm a pragmatist. I think what worries the purists is the camel's nose under the tent, which leads to reasoning such as "if cell phones are okay, then why not build refreshment stands, bars and restaurants? And why shouldn't we allow people to use snowmobiles and dirt bikes/ATVs to get around?
The Park Service's problem is that they were given a dual mission, with the two parts in conflict: "...to promote and regulate the use of the...national parks
...which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein
and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations
." Where that balance falls has changed towards keeping out as much of modern life and not providing tourist 'entertainment', so no more fire fall off Glacier Point, no more spectator bleachers and floodlights at the open garbage dump to watch bears paw through it looking for food, removal of gas stations and other amenities of civilization.
Finding the right balance is difficult, and varies both in different parks and in areas within a specific park, and I have to remind myself that I benefit from certain aspects of civilization (such as the machine grooming/tracking of Glacier Pt. Road in winter (up to the early '80s, it was left to us to make our own tracks), bridges over creeks and rivers, and trail construction and maintenance. Anyway, long digression, but I do try to keep in mind that there are other points of view, and act accordingly. I draw the line at motorized off-road transport, though.