I just want to take a little time to thank Aron Ralston for being the best kind of idiot, and for keeping his name in the spotlight so that I can use him as an object lesson... Let me explain.
You see, I’m a Scoutmaster, and every year, just as spring is getting into full bloom, I teach my boys about Leave No Trace and about the rules to safe hiking. Prior to Aron Ralston I really didn’t have a good example of why these rules are important.
In case you don’t know, the first principle of Leave no Trace is to Plan and Prepare. Where are you going? What’s the weather going to be like? What’s the terrain like? What are the hazards? Do you need a permit? Does anyone know where you’re going? Food? Water? Jacket?
All of these questions raised by the very first principle of Leave No Trace tie into the rules to safe hiking.
1. Plan where you are going. (Break out a $4.00 topo map and plan your trip)
2. Tell someone where you are going, and when you are planning on being back. (ie. “We’ll be taking this trail into this basin. Don’t plan on us being back until Sunday afternoon.”)
3. Dress and pack for conditions.
4. NEVER hike alone. (Hey Aron… ever hear of the buddy system?)
5. Be prepared. (did you pack everything you need… Like a buddy?)
Now I will not tell you that I have never solo hiked… because I have. When I was a teenager and an Idiot! Fortunately, I grew up and finally realized that what I was doing was foolish and stupid. I thank the good Lord above for the fact that nothing really bad ever happened to me while I was alone in the wilderness long before cell phones.
People... Aron Ralston is no hero for cutting off his arm, and leaving a good deal of his DNA all over the desert of South Eastern Utah. I believe that he broke at least 3 of the Leave No Trace principles right there… but I digress. If he were following the priciples of Leave No Trace, he would have had someone with him and, thus... still have 10 pretty fingers.
He’s not a hero, he’s no one to look up to. He’s the poster boy for everything that you don’t do in the wilderness.
I can only hope that he has learned a healthy respect for the land, because as people seem to find out from time to time, if you don’t respect the wilderness, the wilderness will scrape you off it’s boot, and good riddance to you.