Frum Outdoorsman: Rare but Possible

The wanderings and adventures of an orthodox Jew

Cell Phones, GPS, I-pods, Laptops – Not in my woods

Posted by Frum Hiker on December 28, 2006

Tirade about electronics in the woods.

I take my cell phone with me when I go in woods that I am not familiar with, like last week when I hiked a section of the Taconic Crest Trail, but I really dislike even having the thing within 30 miles of me when I am in the woods. Can you imagine the shock I found when I was hiking through high peaks region of the Adirondacks one summer day to find 3 teens trying to get a signal on their phones at Avalanche lake. Oh I was so pissed, I even told them that some folks may get so pissed off that they will throw their phones in the lake. I didn’t let them know that if I wasn’t wearing my yarmulke and tzitzis that their phones might have been thrown in the lake by me.

My friend Shira was hiking the At this summer on the New Hampshire-Vermont section and she told me that some thru-hikers kept online journals of their progress and therefore had carried portable computers on their trips. Yes I was livid with rage that someone had the gall to deposit their suburban materialistic lives into my woods. Or shall I say the woods in general. Don’t get me wrong I understand that technology is responsible for the 1.8 pound 35 degree bag I have, or the Osprey pack I wear or the boots that let me walk 60 miles in four days without getting blisters. But this is technology that is made and you must use it, its not like a leisure component, I do not bring an I-pod into the woods because it simply does not belong. It melds the outside fast paced world with the inner peace and serenity that one can only find in the wilderness that surrounds us. In order to experience it in its fullest one must drop off all their luxury equipment in their car and embark on a journey self reliant journey.

Now people have begun to rely on I-pods, cell phones, laptops and other things t supplement the lack of entertainment they find in the woods. It used to be that one took a journey down a river, mountain or through the woods to find peace and disconnect with their everyday lives. Now they are doing the opposite, they have simply found a different atmosphere to do their work rather then a coffee shop.

GPS systems have brought the art of map reading to a dead end. No longer must wilderness hobbyists rely on their own smarts, by being able to discern topographic lines and tell whether the valley will be steep and narrow or wide and gradual. Nope, now we have computers to do it for us, to give us more time in the woods I assume. I don’t like it, I don’t like to rely on anything or anyone but myself. What if your battery dies? Or your device falls off a cliff? Will you have the skills to decipher a topo map or will you be reduced to a sad case of folks who get lost in the woods half mile from civilization and freeze to death.

Music in the woods should come from natural sources. Perhaps someone lugged a harmonica or maybe a mandolin into the woods. I-pods are the beginning of the end. Gone is the commune with nature, the ears are so important in the woods and yet folks are reducing themselves to plugging in their favorite Dead concert and walking along oblivious to the sights and sounds around them. How will you be able to discern that rustle in the leaves, will you be able to catch a glimpse of that bull moose before it runs away into the brush? Will you be aware that a 1500 pound grizzly is stalking you a mile back? Probably not if Jerry and the band are strumming on their guitars during a 20 minute jam. You will have lost an integral part of the hiking experience, the sounds of your boots sloshing in the mud, or crunching freshly fallen leaves that have been made crisp by the throes of the onslaught of autumn. You will have missed that crow screaming in the wind, or that coyote howling in the distance, the cracking of branches in the howling wind will have been lost forever while you enjoyed your tunes.

The only method of writing shall be the pen and notepad. I cannot even fathom someone lugging in a laptop with all their gear, and then how would they charge it. This is even  beyond me, I have learned that some pack companies are making solar powered phone chargers on their packs. The beginning of the end my friends, the end of the peace and quiet when you happen a group of teenage girls yakking on their cell phones about which MTV shows they have been missing while on “vacation”.

I guess maybe the obesity that is wreaking havoc on the population maybe a good thing since it causes more and more people to leave the woods to the skinny fellows. So the closest the majority of Americans ever get to invading the woods is when they get out of their car walk 100 feet gaze at the Grand Canyon, scream holy shit, take a picture and then hop back in their cars, to go get a cheese burger. I would say its not the digital device that ruined or is beginning to ruin the wilderness experience. It was the roads, and especially the paving of them that brought in hordes of non-appreciative vacationers with their large moving hotels and loud mouthed beer belly passengers, throwing their garbage on the side of the road and polluting the air so bad that most of the time a large haze hangs over the Grand Canyon- it does make for great sunset and sunrise- I must say.    


5 Responses to “Cell Phones, GPS, I-pods, Laptops – Not in my woods”

  1. mp3 players do tend to occupy every moment of non-interaction time. Podcasts tend to grab you for every available moment. It is a good thing to be alone with your thoughts, forsaking any extra input. I need to work on that.

  2. Your blog is on the very high level and includes a lot of very interesting information and was very useful for me.

  3. Hi, your blog looks really good and gives great information! Anyway, nice job. Keep it up please!!! My best wishes to you all!

  4. siliconsolar08 said

    Solar Battery Chargers come in hand when you are on the go. Who would’ve thought? Silicon Solar has different and lightweight Travel Solar Battery Chargers from Ipod Chargers to Laptop Chargers.

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  5. Frum Hiker said


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