"Secret" Spots: To Share or Not To Share

People say a lot of things on the internet. I can always have a laugh at negative remarks and so forth but I recently received one, albeit humorous, that did catch my attention.

I shared the photograph you see above onto a website and while most enjoyed it, I seemed to have apparently made an unforgivable mistake! The mistake, as it turns out, was giving out the location of where I took the picture. One concerned viewer reminded me that this would likely bring swaths of littering people who would show up to this location and degrade it beyond all recognition and "you never saw Ansel Adams handing out a trail map with his pics." Along with some more harshly worded remarks, that about sums it up.

The reason this particular comment caught my attention is because it relates to a classic enigma we see in the outdoor community: keeping secrets. We don't want our favorite places overrun with people and trash. We have these sanctuaries where we can bathe in the solitude and grandeur of nature so why would we want anybody else to know about them? Imagine going to your favorite overlook that only you know about, except to find it swarming with people and camera tripods. Honestly, it's awful and in some cases it can ruin a once picturesque spot. So why on earth would I ever tell anybody? 

For those of us who frequent this site and this community we know that sharing our favorite places for others to enjoy is literally what The Outbound is built upon. We come here to find new adventures and hikes and photography locations that wouldn't be on this site if it weren't for others who are willing to share their "secrets" with us. While, yes, this will inevitably bring more people than usual (and litter unfortunately) this will also bring something else: people who care. Now, more than ever, we find ourselves fighting to preserve our land and maintain the wilderness that we all love. But who will be there to stand up for the "secret" spots that nobody knows about? This is why it's not such a bad thing to advertise our beloved spots. When there are more people who visit and experience a place, then there are more people to fight for it's preservation. 

When we think of a crowded national park we usually think of obnoxious tourists, people littering and harassing the animals, and never being able to find a place to park at the trailhead. While all of this is certainly a problem, what we fail to see are those who are truly developing a connection to the places with which we share our love. While they might be outnumbered, they are not out-qualified. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to go out and beg people to visit your favorite spots. I'm merely trying to offer a different perspective. Maybe I see the world through rose-colored glasses. Maybe I just think too highly of people. But if somebody is willing to put forth the effort to reach one of these often remote areas, then I'd like to think that these "secrets" will mean as much to them as they do to me.

Published: August 7, 2018

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Drew Wright

Prestonsburg

Rock Climber, photographer, hiker, with a love of all things nature.