Last month I participated in a covert operation, which will be referred to as Operation Spyonskiers for the purpose of this month’s column.
I like to eavesdrop on fellow winter outdoor users from time to time. Particularly the ones who think that shared access means anyone can use it so long as you get their permission and approval first. If you think that using their forums to illustrate my point is unprecedented, you should see the list of quotes taken from snowest.com and other snowmobile forums they use in their arguments. Besides, I’m a covert agent.
Most of the time, the fat-chewing on tele-skiing forums goes like this (actual user names and spelling are used):
Posted by Inland Northwest teleskier—Don’t feel bad. I riveted my tail hook on my glidelite skins to the wrong side and had to cut it off and get another tail kit.
I don’t know what a tail hook is, but I’m sure that putting it on the wrong side of a skin ranks right up there with putting a helmet on backwards. But every now and then, something like this will pop up in a thread:
Posted by Mark Worley—I skied 49 Deg N a couple seasons back just after closing. Had the place nearly to myself except for a couple snowmobiles at the end.
Which prompted this response:
Posted by brentss180—The more people we get in the st. regis basin the better so we can reclaim it from the sledheads!!
Alright, now we’re into something. I continued my intel gathering and came to a post by some humble public lands user by the handle markharf—
In a general sense, I’m in favor of the concept of sacrifice zones where sledders can play at will, with other areas reserved for foot travel and/or pure wilderness value.
Nice to meet you, God. May I play on your side of the forest for a while? There’s too much blood on our side from all the sacrifices. That was my first thought, anyways. I adjusted my spy glasses and continued on. Mr. markharf sparked a little in-fighting among fellow skiers. Apparently, not all of these guys are living in their own private Idaho.
Mtbakerskier replied—Im all for using sleds to access terrain that is much farther in than what is possible to get by foot. Sleds make it easier/quicker to get a lot farther away from people, and allow for a better backcountry experience if you sled in, and then leave the sled at the bottom of the tour.
That was followed by this from khyak—Do you drive a car? What is the difference between accessing an area on a sled versus a car?
Barfmark would have nothing of the sort—My use of a car to travel on paved roads makes no appreciable difference to the wilderness experience of others, and has only an almost imperceptible impact on the surrounding natural environment (plants, animals, water, air). The same cannot be said for sledders in my area, who have a tremendous impact on all of the above, even singly. I am not claiming moral purity, but I do think there’s a real difference between a modern car and a two-cycle snow machine, both in terms of where they can go and what they do to their surroundings in the process of getting there. (Others can debate the relative merits of four-cycle vs. two-cycle)
It’s a good thing he said he wasn’t claiming moral purity, because I was about to call the guy a pompous jackass. He’s not the only one on there who thinks he’s better than you and I:
Posted by barrows—The scary thing about snowmobiles is that they now can go anywhere there is snow, if they could only travel on packed roads, like a snowcat, this would be no issue. I believe that some kind of regulation has to be made…The problem is that snowmobile use…can ruin a backcountry experience for riders using more traditional means of access. I am not suggesting banning snowmobiles, but creating segregations so that those who want to recreate without the intrusion of the snowmobile can. Although I usually am not in favor of regulation, in this case I see no other solution.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say this guy even wants us to ride in the back of the public lands and relieve ourselves only on designated trees. And I thought these guys were supposed to be the politically correct crowd.
Excuse me, misters markharf and barrows? May I play in your backyard?