“Your Trail Rep Is Poor…”
GG and his daughter were greeted at Guitar Lake by an upset hiker GG had passed some days earlier, who announced loudly that GG had mistreated him and followed this with the statement that he had talked with some others and three felt that we mistreated them. [FWIW, we met literally hundreds of people. Pissing off 4 seems a fair ratio.]
Setting aside the mentality which might best be described as “trail rage” [guy, if you are reading this, get help, or you’ll probably be dead in five years due to a road rage incident], how does one have a “trail rep”?
To have a reputation, there must be a community. For instance, all professional geoscientists have some kind of reputation with their scientific colleagues, another reputation with their grad students, another with the faculty at their school, etc. What struck GG was, where is the community necessary to generate a reputation?
For GG, going to the wilderness was to go and see and experience the wilderness and let civilization seep away to some degree. It was not to meet people and form some kind of temporary community capable of passing judgement on the various folks found on the trail. Yet this fellow felt there was a community and that he was part of it and could convey its sentiments to us.
This made GG wonder, are there folks coming to hike these trails not to experience the nature along them but to connect with a fairly random collection of other people? If so, that might explain the very strong concentration of people hiking the Muir Trail versus the surrounding trails. After all, the trail community on the Gardiner Basin trail or in Simpson Meadow is probably your own group. Does this mean that these days, the only way to escape your real-life reputation is to go to the wilderness with a group of strangers? Is this a primary motivation for some folks?
GG doesn’t know, but it was an interesting insight….