Chances are, if you pursue a journey to paradise, you’re going to have company. In very very beautiful places, people will be. And I’d like to electronically slap your hand for so openly cursing that reality. To be fair, I, too, like a serene wilderness, buzzing only with the hum of a strong wind, pierced only by the call of a raven. It’s an experience that brings you away from the life that we have created and it perfectly emulates that still place inside us that knows everything is okay, no not okay, actually very incredible. You can stop and breathe deeply and pay attention to the sun on your skin and the smell of wet earth and … then there they are. A group of people in brightly colored clothing just yicky-yacking away while their children poke each other with sticks. There is also a wet dog and it is heading straight for you with half of a tennis ball in its mouth. My God, did their cell phone just ring? Are they taking the call??? Another couple behind them… Grrr… And the “wilderness” experience for you is now over. Easy enough now to rate the route as rubbish and “get through” the rest of the walk in surly rebellion. Too many people….
I did a recent jaunt up Snowdon in Snowdonia National Park in Wales that demanded a bit of flexibility in perception on what it means to be on a highly populated trail. The most obvious first decision to make was to immediately let go of the NEED for it to be an expedition wilderness experience, and the route, even with all of those people on it, became incredibly enjoyable. First of all, it was ass-smack stunning, and I could of been in a crowd of college football fans and still been overtaken by awe. Secondly, I was in my own group, three other people’s company I really enjoy and with whom socializing with was the main point. We WERE the too many people on Snowdon that day. Lastly, the other people became quite a bit of entertainment. The conditions going up Snowdon were incredibly treacherous. It was downright insane to attempt an ascent (or worse yet descent) with the level of ice and snow covering the track. You were guaranteed a fall or two even with the right equipment of Microspikes or crampons. But many many an insane person gave it a go without any of those things. And we were there to witness the circus. I’ve never seen so many closet contortionists, graceful crawlers, or butt skooochers. People clutched onto the arms and bodies of total strangers, beaming looks of alternating terror and thrill on their faces, and openly acknowledged a common bond with absolutely everybody else on that trail. For the fews hours we shared on Snowdon, we were one.
I’d prefer to be the only person on a trail in any given day. But I also love that I’m not. People enjoying the beautiful places of this world encourage a general societal value of conservation, so that there will still BE a trail and places of beauty. If you get past your initial judgment of the people on the trail with you as noise and disturbance, you might even be able to enjoy a moment or two with them. They really are just like you. And probably initially judged YOU as a disturbance.