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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cabins and Trails in Remote Places

Ayakulik Flats country from the top of Anvil Mountain

I like exploring remote and lonely places, and Kodiak is a good place to live if one enjoys this sort of activity.  It is the sort of place that draws like-minded individuals and I have a lot of friends who also like to explore.  So recently it came as a shock that some of my friends are advocating for backcountry cabins.  The sort of hut to hut type things that you see in the Alps or New Zealand.  To my mind this would destroy what I love about the remote places on Kodiak.  And what is funny is that my friends totally do not understand where I am coming from.

For me, once there is a cabin or a road then the area is no longer wilderness.  A cabin or even a hut destroys the feeling of remoteness.  When I go on remote trips I avoid bays and areas that have cabins - or even lakes where it is easy for people to access by float plane.  I like to camp in places where people do not visit.  And there are places I used to go where I no longer do because someone built a cabin.

Also why does anyone need a hut when a teepee that sleeps five and includes a woodstove only weighs 4 to 5 pounds?  It's not like anyone needs a hut if they know what they are doing.

But what's ironic is that I see a parallel in the divide between motorized and non-motorized trail users and the situation between me and my friends who want huts.  Motorized trail users can't understand why non-motorized people get so angry when they ride on a trail.  Basically the noise and beaten in ruts do not bother them.  But it drives the non-motorized crowd bonkers.

The same thing is happening with me and my friends - they don't value true wilderness and can't understand why I'm bothered by huts.  It's an asymmetric situation where the person whose values and needs are the most simple loses.

I guess what it all comes down to is that we should be considerate of the needs of others.  There are trails that are appropriate for motorized users.  Just as there are trails that are better left unmotorized.  And there are areas that should be left wild and remote.  I do admit I would probably enjoy a hut to hut trip in the Swiss Alps - as long as there is enough good cheese and wine.  And I would not mind a hut at one of the goat lakes up in the high alpine where people are already camping all the time.  But I'd rather we left the wild and remote areas wild and remote.


East Fork of the Ayakulik with the Sturgeon River Valley on the far right

Panoramic view south from near the top of Koniag Mountain - Old Harbor is on the extreme left

Panoramic view north from near the top Koniag Mountain 

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