Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Trail Etiquette, Price Hikes, and Enjoying Nature

One of the reasons I started this blog was to help people enjoy natural places where they live. Hamilton has so much to offer, and for a long time, people didn't really know!

It's safe to say that people know now - and that's really good, most of the time. More people have been out enjoying the beautiful hiking and scenery in and around Hamilton.

Some of this has been controversial. Neighbours around Webster's Falls have had to deal with people having picnics on their lawns, and in an attempt to preserve the fragile landscape, the Hamilton Conservation Authority has significantly raised the price of admission (including a vehicle fee and a per person fee) making the falls inaccessible to many. It's unfortunate,  but something that I think is necessary,  at least for a while, although it's unfortunate that the easiest way to do this is across financial lines.

There has also been an increasing amount of rope rescues, as well as deaths at various waterfall sites.

Our waterfalls are part of a sensitive ecosystem that we need to be aware of, and tread lightly on. In light of the accidents, or near accidents at the falls, it is clear that there is a need for mutual respect. This is a good reminder of how we ought to relate to nature, and how taking care of it also helps us take care of ourselves.

This is a bit of a tough issue for me, because I love being fully immersed into a scene. If I see something beautiful, I want to get as close as possible to it. It's fun to explore, to try something new, or even slightly risky.

I've documented some of my recklessness in this blog. I haven't always stayed on the trail. I've gotten into some tricky situations that could have been dangerous very easily. Part of what makes waterfalls so exciting and beautiful, is just what makes them dangerous: rushing water, rocks, and heights. Part of appreciating nature's beauty is recognizing that, and our place in relation to it. Let's keep being awe-inspired by our waterfalls, but do so with the fullness of knowledge of what it is. It was there before us, and will continue on after us, so let's appreciate it respectfully, and do our best to preserve it for those after us.

Let's take care of ourselves, and the landscape we are privileged to enjoy.