Friday, October 1, 2010

Wild and Scenic Missouri River: Part 4

Like a lot of places I used to go to quite often in my youth, I'm sure places like this stretch of the river are much more crowded these days. Outdoor adventures like paddling 150 miles of a wild and scenic river are much more in fashion these days and in the name of money, we cater to the people making it easier to get to these places. As a result or more people being able to enjoy such delights, more people who don't understand or don't appreciate them also show up.

I am reminded of my trips to the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming where we used to spend two weeks and see nary another soul. On our last trip in 1994, not only were the people thick but black bears had gone from being non-existent to being a pest. Due to the hordes of people, most who didn't know even the most basic methods for preventing a bear from eating their food, the bears were well fed. All the people we met that trip were fortunately on their way out with their vacation cut short due to lack of food because they had forgotten the basics such as hanging the food bag especially after cooking greasy meats over a large fire that could be smelled for miles downwind. Though I wanted to actually see a black bear up close and saw lots of prints, I saw no bear that trip. Only lots of people fleeing them.

But in 1993 when I did this trip, this stretch of the river wasn't well known and we never saw another soul during our float. We saw a few signs here and there but were impressed with how pristine area were, including areas that I'm sure got heavier traffic. If I went to Neat's Coulée today that I blogged about in my last post, I would expect to see lots of graffiti, old fire rings and other scars upon the land. Back when we did this trip, we saw none of those things.

Which brings me to the picture below of a famous rock structure called the Eye of the Needle which I blogged about here over five years ago. It was a delicate rock structure that was formed by millions of years of blowing dirt and has stood their like a sentinel for tens of thousands of years since. It is quite visible from the river and an easy hike to reach and probably tens of thousands of people have visited over the years. Yet with easier accessibility encouraged by ourselves to give everyone "their right" to see such things, brought along a new breed of people who don't treasure such wonders as you or I might. One night, probably under the influence of alcohol, someone kicked down the Eye of the Needle and threw the rocks into the river below.


sage said...

I'm glad there are still wild places without a lot of people--or if you go at the right time, you want see many. Love your pictures--that's a pretty river. A river to consider is the Green River in Utah, from I-70 to the Colorado--a great floating river for canoes (you have to be picked up at the confluence and hauled back to Moab as no canoe would survive the Colorado as it heads toward Lake Powell.

Ed said...

Sage - Or at least a canoe that isn't mostly filled with float bags. Below Lake Powell, almost every rapids was runnable by canoe via the shallow water on the inside bend where deeper draft boats like rafts or dories can't go. There were only two or three rapids that I felt would have caused me to portage a canoe. However if I had a canoe full of camping supplies for a week or couple week trip, all bets are off!

R. Sherman said...

I love the high plains. Like Sage, I've contemplated a trip on the Green River in Utah because it's pretty laid back and a great tour through Canyon Country.


TC said...

As a result or more people being able to enjoy such delights, more people who don't understand or don't appreciate them also show up.

It's such a shame. Sigh.

Those last two photos are just amazing. Wow.

Vince said...

Since you started this series I've tried to keep track with google earth. But I keep getting diverted, for in the middle of nowhere there are these rings some a mile in diameter. And while I know what they are, irrigation booms attached to a central post with a huge wheel and engine at the other, I don't have the faintest idea what they are growing that would require such hi-tech measures.