I see too many sides to every situation and find myself often thrust into the role of mediator. It made me a great parent, in my opinion, but it can be exhausting. My complaint comes not from the presence of large groups of people on the hiking trails (though I avoid it whenever possible) or at the campgrounds, it comes from how they decide to pursue those activities. Do they make every effort to follow the rules? Do they keep the noise to a respectful level? Do they obey the quiet hours? Do they pick up behind themselves? And most importantly, do they teach their young ones courtesy and respect for others? That's where you get me. Crowds on the holidays? Fine, that's part of the deal, if I don't feel up to it I'll stay home or go someplace less attractive to everyone else. Disrespect for everyone else and the land we're all there to enjoy? Parents shouting at kids who don't listen because they know there are no repercussions? (Or the flip side, parents who don't stop nagging and don't let their kids do anything at all) Not fine.
|lonely milkweed in the forest|
But aren't I supposed to be talking about the hike I took from the Ice Age Center? It all relates, trust me. On the suggestion of Mary Beth I left the center on the yellow trail, took a left on the red, then connected to the green and back to the yellow for a loop hike that was about 3 miles long.
There were a few folks on the trail, more than I'm used to seeing but by no means a crowd. A few had dogs. Great! But, like the issue of kids on the trail, what matters is how you handle your charge. Is your dog a nuisance barker? Is it leashed? (no more than 8 feet according to State Forest guidelines) Are you cleaning up after it?
|hard to identify shriveled leaves!|
I was walking behind a couple who had what appeared to be a mix of pitbull and doberman. Off leash. Another couple coming towards us had a little leashed dog that they had to PICK UP IN THEIR ARMS as they walked past. The owners of "JJ" kept calling to him to "wait". JJ would wait (kinda), but as soon as its owners were in sight it bolted up the trail again. Not once did JJ come back or did the owners make any effort to do anything with the leash in their hands as other folks walked past them in the opposite direction.
After listening to them call out to JJ to "wait" for about the fiftieth time I finally caught up to them (hard to do on the hilly terrain when you're behind people with longer legs) and in a voice of barely controlled rage asked them if they could please hang back a minute and let me get ahead of them so I didn't have to continue listening to them shout at their dog.
|on top of a ridge|
I didn't bother to watch their faces for a reaction, just plowed uphill while they told JJ to "wait" yet again. As I got near the top of the hill JJ decided I was coming to see him, bolted toward me and jumped up on me with his muddy paws. I fended him off and shouted back down to his owners "and if I'm not mistaken dogs are supposed to be leashed on this trail!"
|warmer than my tent perhaps?|
Unsurprisingly, even though they called "come" to him repeatedly he ignored them and wanted to be my friend. I had to stop, gesture toward his owners and say "JJ! Go on!" Finally he relented and I spent the next half hour increasing my lead, not stopping to enjoy the forest, and stewing over the incident until I ran across an adorable couple with two adorable leashed, well behaved tiny dogs that pulled them along the trail so fast they passed me. Ah, there is hope. And hopefully they had poop bags in their pockets. And if you're hiking in an area where leashes are not required I hope you know that doesn't mean your dog can be a nuisance to other people and spoil their day just because it's not trained properly. Were our dogs trained any better than JJ? Honestly, no. We also didn't let them roam off leash in public areas because of it.
|Sorry I missed this spot when it was ablaze a few weeks ago!|
As for the issue of population control, to me preventing excess population growth is desirable, including making sure folks have access to family planning they can afford. Free would be even better, in my opinion. Sure would save on health care costs in the long run. But what issues strike at the heart of why our population is so out of control to begin with? Obviously it's not because people are breeding large families because that used to be the standard. Historically, when agriculture was invented there was a huge population surge. Sine then, numerous plagues, war and famine have kept the population from getting out of control. But now we've conquered most disease, have less war casualties (we have other ways of conquering our enemies) and have enough control over game and agriculture (for now) to make sure there is adequate amounts of food and water distributed at all times. Did you know that in London in the 1700's almost 75% of children didn't live past the age of five? Obviously better nutrition and better health care are a major factor in the population explosion. People live longer, fetuses make it full term, and women don't die in childbirth as often and so on and so on. Does that mean we should let "nature take its course" and not fight disease, or stop sending food and vaccines to struggling regions? Of course not. Personally I think tragedy will befall our planet at some point soon, whether it be through a new disease that we can't fight, lack of resources or weather related phenomena. Thoughts? Discussion? Pick a topic, population control or bad doggie owners or tragedy on the horizon and exercise your brain as well as your body today!