PAT NEAL: No selfies in the outhouse

From our majestic melting glaciers to the acidified ocean, and all the scenic splendor in between, this year’s tourist migration seems even heavier than last year’s mob scene. While tourists keep the lights on, people can go crazy when they escape the city and enter the woods or the water.

I blame the media.

City folks watch nature shows telling them animals are just like people and some people are just too pushy for their own good.

They get too close, harassing animals that don’t like people.

The animal shows are punctuated with commercials showing SUVs plunging through streams, beaches and mountaintops like the world is their race track. All of which fosters the crazy idea that if we spend enough money and do crazy things in the wilderness, someone will like us on social media.

Even if it kills us.

The smartphone is an amazing gadget that has become the most important component of any modern vacation. It is as if you have to constantly take pictures of yourself on vacation to prove to the world that you really actually went somewhere and are having a wonderful time.

This same smartphone gets people into a lot of trouble every year. It can be easy to get lost in the woods while relying on a phone for navigation. Many hikers take a smartphone along on their journey instead of a map and a compass. Then for whatever reason, the weather, lack of coverage or dead batteries, the phone is useless, leaving the hiker with no idea where they are or how to signal for help.

Taking selfies can be self-destructive behavior. Such as the guy who fell off the edge of the 75-foot-high Sol Duc Falls taking a selfie a few years ago. At least someone got a video of it.

The Sol Duc Falls is much more than just an iconic National Park destination. Over the years, it’s been a tourist magnet, luring them like lemmings to the edge of the cliff, past the warning signs and over the safety railing where it does not go well.

On April 15, a guy, (why is it generally a guy?) climbed over the railing at the edge of the falls and wound up falling to the bottom, where he was trapped and suffering from hypothermia.

Other hikers called 9-1-1 and lowered supplies down to him with their shoe strings.

An amazing YouTube video shows him climbing out of the falls by sticking a pocket knife in a log and pulling himself up and out of the canyon five minutes before Search and Rescue teams arrived.

We don’t know if he got a selfie.

A week later, the Olympic Peninsula made the national news with a big story about a woman who got into a pile of trouble losing her phone in the outhouse on Walker Mountain.

While it is unknown at this time if she was taking a selfie, the Walker Mountain outhouse is among the most scenic sanitary facilities on the Olympic Peninsula.

Somehow, the phone was dropped into the outhouse.

The owner fell in after it trying to lower herself down with a dog leash to retrieve the phone. She obviously had not purchased the phone’s insurance but, points for style. Search and Rescue came to the rescue. They rescued the woman and recommended she seek medical attention.

Let’s review a couple of safety dos and don’ts for tourist season.

• Do tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll get back.

• Do take the 10 survival gear essentials on your wilderness trip.

• Don’t take selfies in the outhouse.

_________

Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patnealproductions@gmail.com.

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