Backpackers Should Be Amateur Naturalists

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Backpackers Should Be Amateur Naturalists

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    Backpacking Light


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Ben Kilbourne explores the need for backpackers to be amateur naturalists in our effort to steward our natural environment.

    Dondo .
    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Thanks to Ben for writing this and to the Admin for publishing it.  The piece is very thoughtful and beautifully written.  Wendell Berry quoted in BPL?  I like it and would like to see more like this.

    While driving back home from a traihead yesterday, I was reflecting on the ironies involved in my participation in backpacking.  My CRV was emitting carbon into the air and my backpack was filled with petroleum products.  All of which contribute to climate change and the destruction of our forests.

    I can’t say that I have any easy answers to this.  On a personal level, I can make sure that I don’t fall into the trap of hyper-consumerism with constant upgrades to my kit for the sake of saving a few ounces.  As a citizen, I can pay attention to those who seek to represent me on a local and national level and make sure that their values most closely align with my own.

    This is our planet, our home.  Let’s try to take care of it.

    John S.
    BPL Member


    The LNT principles are a mess, in my opinion, because they are too general and not educational enough.

    Kurt Odendahl
    BPL Member


    Locale: Tallgrass prairie

    Great article! BackpackingLight needs more like it. I second reading Leopold’s Sand County Almanac. Highlights of my backpacking trips are viewing and identifying forbs and trees than submitting pictures to iNaturalist.

    AK Granola
    BPL Member


    Nice writing. The spruce beetles are killing Alaskan trees by the thousands, steadily heading north. My home is surrounded by spruce. I expect in my lifetime to see them all disappear, if not through beetle kill, then through wildfire. If the latter, my home will go with them. Sobering.

    Dan Ransom
    BPL Member


    Locale: Utah

    Wonderful sentiments and great writing Ben.  Thanks.

    BPL Member


    Locale: The West is (still) the Best

    It’s definitely a plus to have some knowledge of an area’s biology, geology, and geography.  Even recent history (former reservoir, decommissioned military area) can lead to a deeper appreciation.

    Ben Kilbourne
    BPL Member


    Locale: Utah

    @dondo Indeed, I have those same thoughts about the ironies involved in backpacking. And the vastness and complexity of them are frankly overwhelming. I’m glad you enjoyed seeing Berry in BPL! He’s an incredible writer and one we should all be aware of.

    @judykurt Glad you liked it! A Sand County Almanac should be required reading for every seventh-grader in America in my opinion.

    It’s wild to see accelerated change in a timeframe that we can perceive. Not geological and slow but basically instantaneous. Sobering indeed.


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