Technology and Outdoor Pursuits: How Much is Too Much?
|On a hike in Northeastern PA. This photo |
was taken with a smartphone. (D. Herscovitch)
With all of our smartphones, iPads, iPods, etc., many of us thirst for a few moments of peace.
We seek out wilderness in an effort to disconnect from the noise in favor of silence.
But does it always make sense to shun that connection to our everyday lives when it can bring timely reports of pioneering experiences to people around the world?
Does the "turn your phone off on a hike" rule apply to everyday adventurers, but not to the pros? And haven't climbers been reporting ascents with satellite phones deep in the middle of nowhere for a while now?
I've been on a number of backpacking trips, including the Pinchot Trail in Pennsylvania and various trails in the Adirondacks, and had clear cell phone reception. I usually turn my phone completely off and keep it off for the duration of the trip, unless I'm using it as an alarm clock, or leave it in the car if someone else in the group has one with them. It's always seemed like such a nuisance to me; I love being out there and really disconnecting.
Even if I'm on a day hike close to home, hearing a fellow hiker's phone ring is the quickest way to get an eye roll out of me. I don't think connections through our phones, including texting and posting to social media outlets, have a place in outdoor adventures. Though, I did send a text message to our cat sitter on last weekend's trip. Guilty!
But of course, with the growing presence of cell towers across North America, and the world, phones can be extremely helpful in emergencies. Even when you're deep in the backcountry, having a working phone can be the difference between getting rescued and not. However, does that mean we should be using those cell towers to send photos to our friends on Facebook?
And then, there's Tommy Caldwell and the Dawn Wall project. With regular updates to Tommy's facebook page, anyone in the world could see their progress up the steepest part of El Capitan in Yosemite. It was an incredible opportunity to follow two of the world's best rock climbers up one of the world's most iconic walls in real time. We've also had years of opportunities to follow climbers' progress up and down mountains like Everest. Is it too much? Where should the line be drawn?
Share your thoughts in the comments!