Monday, April 18, 2016

A Collision of Worlds

Once, I was surveying one of my favorite marshes and a dad and his two sons came out of the brush.  They were geocaching*.  We had a very brief conversation where I pointed to the beaver cut stumps that they almost tripped over and the large lodge that was just off shore a dozen yards.  At this point, "dad" looked at me like I was a space alien.  He asked me if I knew where the box was hidden. 
"That direction", I said pointing south.  I know this only because I pay attention to where I am and find the boxes fairly often.  It would do him no good anyway.  The box was on a small island 50 yards from shore.  The satellite derived maps in the GPS were in error showing lily pads as dry land.  He had absolutely no idea where he was standing. 
barrel (removed)

People are increasingly wandering into wild places with the mistaken belief that technology will be their guide.  They watch a tiny TV screen as they wander from waypoint to waypoint, cell phone in pocket in case they get hurt... or the batteries run out.  The more adventurous carry their SPOT emergency beacons.  Few know how to "see" and remember landmarks.  The matching of a map to the land you are standing in is a dying skill. The spirit of wild places doesn't step forward when it has to compete with the distraction of electronic marvels.  Take the tame world to wild places and all you have is a tame and unspirited world.

There is a new osprey nest in a tree on tiny Watch Island.  The flush as I come near, not yet used to people, who will be paddling under them all summer.  I spot what seems to be a loon except that for too much white on it's body.  It lets me very near, maybe 10 yards.  It seems to be grooming, twisting its body around with one leg dangling high.  I watch for a few minutes.  A second new osprey nest is on an overhead structure on someone's dock.  The rest of the 30 some nests on and around Great Island are occupied.
new nest on Watch Island

I head up the Black Hall River to the hidden pond.  Then I return via the Back River (not really a river).  I find that loon just before I get back to the Lieutenant River.  It is sitting on shore and this time I get within a couple yards, a sign of trouble.  I finally can see a short bit of mono filament fishing line.  It looks like it has snagged a fishermen's hook on its body.  It swims off...nothing I can do except hope that it will shake it free.  At least it isn't one of the huge treble hook lures that I collect all too often.  It is an unfortunate collision of the tame and wild worlds.

*The process of geocaching
1. buy a GPS receiver.
2. obtain coordinates from a geocaching website and load into GPS receiver
3. go where the GPS device tells you to.
4. find box (the geocache)
5. imagine that you know something about wilderness travel...cuz you don't.


eebe4 said...


Unknown said...

Enjoyed your reflection. I encounter similar people even when I go trail running a few miles away from my home. They do not observe where they are, they watch their phones. I wrote a poem called "Camping" a few years ago about such encounters: