Take only pictures, leave only footprints. It’s an old rule of thumb for visiting the backcountry, and one that is more often than not respected. The idea, of course, being that you should make as little of an environmental impact as possible.
Unfortunately, there are always some who don’t respect this golden rule, something that Michael Matthews has discovered during several hikes through Silent Pass south of town.
Matthews and his wife Jane explore the back country terrain around Silent Lake every couple of years. In 2009 they discovered a pile of trash along their route. The next time they did that hike they also noticed a significant amount of garbage, and the latest time they did the hike (this summer) there was a great deal of trash once again.
“There were also several sites where people had taken chainsaws and cut trees at half-mast and had huge bon fire parties,” Matthews said. “All of this in an area of first class scenic beauty.”
Upset at what they’d found, the couple cleaned up the area.
Because of the quantity of the trash, the fact that chainsaws were used to cut down the trees, and due to Silent Pass being a popular destination for sledders, Matthews believes snowmobilers are the likely culprits.
“Hikers don’t carry cases of beer on their back up to 8 or 9,000 feet and they don’t carry chainsaws on their backs,” Matthews said.
Matthews has since discussed the incident with Aaron Berlusconi, president of the Golden Snowmobile Trail Society, who he says was understanding and equally concerned with the issue.
Berlusconi was unavailable for comment at the time of printing.
“I was very happy to hear that they were willing to take some responsibility for the bad apples…(because) it’s just a few bad apples that ruin it for everybody,” Matthews said.