The inevitable cellphone debate is coming to a wilderness near you
Jun 6, 2017 at 10:57 pm #3472039Cameron MBPL Member
@cameronm-aka-backstrokeLocale: Los Angeles
Mount Rainier National Park has prepared an environmental assessment report about the extension of cellphone coverage into the park. It is only a matter of time before this debate is going to also hit the Sierra. You can read the article in the Guardian. Some see it as “an invisible but unwelcome desecration of nature”. Thoughts?Jun 7, 2017 at 8:37 am #3472099
I don’t see the big deal aesthetically about putting a cell antenna on top of a building at a fully developed site like Paradise. It’s nice to call your wife at the end of a trip to say “I’m back at the car, everything’s OK, can’t wait to see you”. What is a big deal to me is hiking on a wilderness trail, soaking in the wildflowers, bird calls and pristine view, while having to listen to another hiker talking loudly on their cell phone about grocery lists or some other inane subject. I like the idea of treating wilderness like a temple or movie theater – please turn off your phones for the duration of the hike.Jun 7, 2017 at 9:02 am #3472103
That would be great if they had better cell coverage in the wilderness. I could call the wife better so we don’t worry about each other.
I should get one of those satellite communicatorsJun 7, 2017 at 9:36 am #3472114
Satellite texting is a good option for two way wilderness communication. It’s fairly affordable ($15/month minimum plan with the DeLorme InReach) and coverage is more reliable than a cell phone in most wilderness areas.Jun 7, 2017 at 10:10 am #3472119ben .BPL Member
@frozenintimeJun 7, 2017 at 1:08 pm #3472144HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Double edge sword but electronics will continue to invade .. it’s just which technology? My peeve has been personal stereo speakers blaring music from urban areas, including parks, to the wilderness …fortunately a very small minority (personally 1 last yr, 1 this in the wild). Though a rockosaurus, really don’t care for it. Both incidences were pretty deep into the backcountry as well.
That said, cell coverage can be helpful. A couple dudes got coverage at Deep Creek (near Lk Arrowhead, CA) and found messages from the sheriff saying their trailhead vehicle was stolen and subsequently rammed into an 18-wheeler. They were able to arrange alternative transport.Jun 7, 2017 at 1:28 pm #3472146David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Glad to see the assessment already noted (1) distracted driving by smart phone users and (2) potential over-confidence by hikers if they believe they can just call for a rescue if they get in over their heads as two issues that balance out other safety- and connectivity advantages.
And easy regulation to write: no amplified sound in wildness areas. And “amplified sound” means anything I can hear as I walk past you on the trail. i.e. you must use ear buds.
A harder regulation to write and enforce: No voice calls from wilderness areas except for emergencies. As Lester alludes to, listening to one half of someone else’s phone call is more annoying than your very least favorite music. At least the airlines and FAA have grasped this and despite VOIP and other technologies being viable, a pressurized 11-foot-diameter aluminum tube at 33,000 feet with 140 people in it is NOT a good phone booth, nor is a trail corridor in which opposing traffic inflicts their conversation on you for a minute and parallel traffic does for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.Jun 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm #3472148Peter TreiberBPL Member
Probably a wash: some folks will get rescued, some will Snapchat their way off of cliffs.Jun 7, 2017 at 1:31 pm #3472149
High tech billionaires (I forget which but there are several) have plans to put many satellites into low earth orbit and provide better coverage for cheap communications. That would get into wildernesses which would be cool.Jun 7, 2017 at 1:55 pm #3472152
High tech billionaires… have plans to put many satellites into low earth orbit and provide better coverage for cheap communications.
As much as I love the idea of keeping tech wilderness infringement to a minimum, the ability to have reasonably priced internet access in the wilderness would open up many more backpacking options for me. As a work-at-home biz owner, having the ability to do an hour or so of work each night after setting up camp would allow more frequent and much longer trips each year, plus it would relieve a double work burden from my wife while I’m out in the hills. We can keep everyone happy by simply practicing LNT principles, especially “be considerate of other visitors”.Jun 7, 2017 at 3:47 pm #3472167
We can keep everyone happy
With the line between work and free-time increasingly blurry in American corporate culture, I suspect most larger employers will abuse this increased connectivity.
If you can be reached, you can work.
Call it “employee engagement“, “being a team player“, or an expectation of work being paramount, but in most American businesses the concept of truly free time is odd. You should be able to be reached. And if you can’t, why not? I’ve seen it myself recently. And have been on the receiving end of it, too.
But it is what is happening. And probably won’t stop in our culture. All someone like myself can do is push (No, I can’t take calls in New Mexico) or advocate (Bob is on vacation. Should we be calling him?). and fight the good fight. Note both my positions were not popular. :)Jun 7, 2017 at 4:07 pm #3472171
I much prefer full(er) immersion in the wilds when I’m there. A big aspect of this for me is letting my mind and emotions settle into the rhythms of days and nights without tvs or the internet, etc. And it takes a few days just for this to happen. It’s a noticeable change in my psychological condition that’s important to me. Remaining ‘connected’ to the internet would only disconnect me from that experience.Jun 7, 2017 at 5:27 pm #3472184
I don’t like electronics in the wilderness. That said, I don’t see how someone who does not want to be reached ( by the boss, the coworker etc) somehow trumps those that do want to be reached. For some the ability to be called could mean more time off, more freedom. Employers that may abuse that are individual cases to be addressed as such and not by denying others the chance to be out more. For many it’s a matter of safety. Not long ago someone here posted about breaking their foot and the weather turning bad but they were able to call for help.
Like OP says, it is inevitable…..and I will add that we do have the option of leaving it at home.Jun 7, 2017 at 6:14 pm #3472191
“Like OP says, it is inevitable…..and I will add that we do have the option of leaving it at home.”
True. Advertising jingles and disaster movies in the wilderness are inevitable. Resistance if futile. Ah well, say goodbye to the experience of John Muir.
It’s fair and true that some need or benefit from being connected in the mountains. I’ll leave my devices at home and hope there won’t be outdoor screenings of Batman 24 anywhere I’m camping.Jun 7, 2017 at 6:17 pm #3472194AnonymousInactive
Have we considered the unfathomably repulsive thought of a cell tower in some remote area of SEKI? Like Milestone Basin or Mt Ericsson? Never mind the audio clutter, which is almost as bad. I’m sorry folks, I just cannot see any justification for extending this into one of the last refuges from disruptive technology that has already made a hash of our lives in so many way in the pursuit of more stuff.Jun 7, 2017 at 6:25 pm #3472196
I would like a wilderness free of phones, music and even people but that does not mean that my desires trump the needs and sometimes safety of others. If you hike in more remote areas you will still be alone and have that experience but if you expect to hike 3 miles of a busy trail and then be upset that you are not getting the John Muir experience because someone yacks on their phone…then you are in the wrong place to begin with.
I would like an even wilder experience, freer, without signs and gates and horses nor permits to fill out and the ability to take my dog . I won’t be getting that in most places but I can find some of them still. Heck, I would like a wilder life all together. Some town in England tried doing away with all traffic signs and lights and they decreased accidents by a large margin. Wouldn’t it be nicer not to have huge ugly signs and lights everywhere too? I am not advocating electronics in the wilderness. I don’t even have cell reception at home!!
@Tom I don’t like the idea either. I would also prefer we didn’t open up pristine areas to bus loads of people that have little connection to nature to begin with.Jun 7, 2017 at 6:36 pm #3472198Valerie EBPL Member
@wildtownerLocale: Grand Canyon State
Sadly, I am hearing music blaring from speakers in the backcountry more and more frequently — and it’s NOT getting any less annoying!
I would argue that there is ALREADY a wilderness regulation against amplified speakers in the wilderness: the same regulation that prevents forest service workers from using power tools in wilderness areas. It just isn’t/can’t be enforced when it comes to people playing their music. Really, if the animals are disturbed by the noise of motorized vehicles and/or power tools, I imagine that loud music coming from on-trail speakers will disturb them, too. But hikers need to “buy into” the idea that they’re disturbing people/wildlife, and I don’t see that happening any time soon.Jun 7, 2017 at 6:38 pm #3472199
^^^^ ough. Yes. +1Jun 7, 2017 at 7:09 pm #3472205
Have we considered the unfathomably repulsive thought of a cell tower in some remote area of SEKI?
I hope we never see that day. But in all likelyhood, cell towers will eventually go the way of the dodo as better technologies take their place, such as improved satellite systems.
While there is a growing intrusion of technology into our lives (and into wilderness), it seems that there is a counter force at work to hold things in check to some extent. This counter force is a shift in societal values over the last few decades toward more balance between doingness (work, progress, success, etc.) and beingness (happiness, fulfillment, care for things outside ourselves). One obvious display of this trend is in the movie industry (a reflection of society), where plots are numerous about people giving up success for happiness and the like. We can have our cake and eat it too by using new technologies, but doing so in a balanced, healthy and respectful way to others and to the environment.Jun 7, 2017 at 8:48 pm #3472221
I would argue that how is our need to check in with the family and perceived safety more important than the increasingly scarce wildness present in our society?
I realize I am on the losing side of this debate.
People want to be connected for various reasons.
I just lament the cost.Jun 7, 2017 at 9:15 pm #3472228
For the people saved by a phone call it’s more than perceived safety. Like I said, I don’t even have reception at home and love to be away from it all. I live a fairly simple and rustic life and I used to live in a cabin I built off the grid with my little daughter. No power, no phone, no indoor plumbing, an outhouse and 4 miles of dirt road that required 4WD. I don’t advocate cell towers and people being constantly connected but I do see what the benefits can be. That’s all .
We are online right now and that comes at a cost and with a loss.Jun 7, 2017 at 10:51 pm #3472245
I say perceived safety as many of those SAR calls could have been prevented by other means initially. And the SAR people are put in danger with every SAR call themselves.
Food for thought:
Anyway, I readily acknowledge the debate is lost.
A new era is about to begin.Jun 7, 2017 at 11:17 pm #3472249rubmybelly!BPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
We’ve been heading in this direction for a very long time. Unfortunately, as with most ‘progress’, it tends to accelerate the further it goes along.Jun 8, 2017 at 6:35 am #3472269
cell phone coverage is good for calling the wife so we don’t have to worry about each other
cell towers don’t have to be located in the wilderness though. cell towers need power and power lines aren’t in the wilderness. You can put towers outside the wilderness and get coverage inside.
I agree, cell towers would be inconsistent with wilderness
I am such a wienie for not having a satellite communicator : )Jun 8, 2017 at 9:46 am #3472289
It’s just…people used to go out on a hike and it was understood that they’d be incommunicado for a week, or whatever. Family members who were at home didn’t worry about the hikers. Now, if someone isn’t in phone connection every day or more, there’s anxiety. So technology has created anxiety while advertising that it alleviates it. Devices don’t put our minds to rest; they do the opposite. I find hiking, especially in solitude, fosters mindfulness and peace. So for me, the internet in the mountains is a non starter.
But I understand the given reality and that it’s important to alleviate the worries of loved ones at home.
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