You’re Not Better Than Anyone: The Follow-Up Post

Occasionally I’ll touch on a subject that strikes a nerve with readers near and far. This post {You’re Not Better Than Anyone} was one of those times. Readers emailed, commented, shared, and left me notes on Facebook. And truly, I appreciate it when I receive that kind of response. After seeing so much negativity towards “others” in the outdoor space, I was starting to think that I was the only one feeling the way that I do.

Thankfully, that’s not the case. Many of you chimed in agreement. Blog comments were the most supportive:

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I was also both humbled and flattered to see that Warren Miller skier Julian Carr agreed with me {and that he somehow stumbled on my lil’ blog!}:

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That said, it’s really easy to pretend that everyone agreed with me and that unicorns and rainbows filled the sky that day. Obviously, that wasn’t the case {but if someone does find a unicorn, will you please let me know?!} Some people agreed with my sentiment but believed me to be guilty of that which I was ranting against:

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I was curious to continue this conversation because I truly don’t believe that I am a culprit of this on “several occasions” as the commenter suggested. As I explained in my comment, there was one instance so I wondered if that single occasion was the episode in question. But more importantly, the comment by Gauax begged the question: if someone shares 85% of the locations or trails or campsites but leaves the other 15% to him/herself, is it fair to call that snobbery? Is that considered “hogging all the good stuff”? Personally, I don’t think so but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Gauax wasn’t the only one who took offense at my writing. A couple readers disliked when I wrote, “Think back to your early-outdoors self: you probably dressed in cotton, maybe wore a pair of jeans on your first hike, and carried a water bottle in your hand. You still learned what you were doing; you evolved. Why can’t we assume the same for everyone?”

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Here is the thing: I am an incredibly sensitive person in real life {I scored an 86% on “feeling” on the Myers-Briggs personality test, if that’s any indication!} so I truly, honestly take it to heart when I read comments like what Sarah wrote. Was I inadvertently being a jackass?

But then I read through other comments that said the complete, exact opposite.

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It’s times like these that I have to remember that not everyone is going to agree. We all have different opinions and perspectives and see things in a different way. In a sense, that was the point of my original post, but the small “hiking in jeans” excerpt appears to be a microcosm of the bigger picture. I saw {and wrote} it meaning one thing but others interpreted it differently. At some point, I have to understand and accept that the cookie crumbles in many different ways…still working on that.

And of course, there were some people who just flat-out disagreed with me. {Warning: couple of F-bombs dropping!}

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{It was a long comment, so I truncated it. If you want to read the entire thing, it’s over on the original post.}

Like I mentioned above, the comment originally bothered me. But then I sat on Jill’s words for a day or two {always the best reaction when you’re ‘made of butter’ like me!} and re-read her comment. I know Jill a bit from ’round the internet and she is an awesome woman. Still, I largely disagree….and that’s life. 

More and more, I am realizing that there are plenty of people out there like Jill who just simply disagree with me. Some of them believe that the up-and-coming generations have “gone soft”; if we had to work crazy hard to learn these skills and discover these outdoor places, the next crop should have to put in that same sweat equity. And to some extent, I get it. I understand. But all too often, I’m seeing a backward slide into a “they don’t deserve it” mentality, and that’s where I struggle.

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Just a few of many comments I receive while sharing outdoor info. Guess Jill Wolf doesn’t know me as well as she thinks she does since I was born a whopping 20 minutes down the road 😉

In my opinion, introducing more people to The Great Outdoors is the best way to preserve it for the future. After all, it’s the younger generations that will be in charge of conservation and stewardship once I’m long gone and turned to dust. Let’s teach them how to treat it with respect to ensure its longevity. If we continue to force them out or insist that they don’t deserve to be here, it is likely that they will wash their hands of it all. Why should they advocate for that which refuses to welcome them? 



Alright let’s hear it: thoughts?!


  • Reply Art at

    I’m certainly no expert on the outdoors, but there are people that I know a little bit more than and I think it’s great when I’m asked about spots that I want to see or trips I’d like to take. That being said, I don’t go advertising where I want to go. I find that there’s a big difference between promoting a spot, and sharing when asked. When IRL, it’s very easy to share. When you have a following on social media (which I don’t), the question blurs a bit. How can we promote respect for the outdoors so that everyone who has the slightest interest can go out there, and turn it into a BIG interest (which will, in the long run, finally push enough people to give a rip about environmental concerns that we could perhaps save these places and save our planet…but I digress) while simultaneously insuring that we don’t get people like Creepytings out there drawing on our national parks, or that idiot boy scout leader pushing over natural rock formations which formed over millions of years, or some ultra runner stomping through living desert earth? This is a balance. I personally could not care less about how someone thinks about me out there, or how I look, or how badass my trips might be. I go because I love it, and not because I want to look cool to someone else. The culture of people who DO look cool to other people (intentionally or not), or who show their activities, has to promote respect as a threshold requirement to getting outdoors. How else will one know the rules of getting out there if they don’t have enough respect for the outdoors to LOOK UP the rules before they go?

  • Reply WinterWomen at

    We agree that all should be allowed to share the beauty of the outdoors. Teaching ‘newbies’ the wonders of the earth will, as you said, help them take an interest in respecting and preserving. Yes, it may mean more people are visiting locations potentially harming them but again, if lessons of respect are accompanied, there is no reason everyone who wants to get out there shouldn’t be allowed.

  • Reply Claude at

    Don’t worry you pretty sensitive self! I love your blog and the natural wonders you show us. Please just realize that in this day and age, it is trendy to be outraged and over analyze EVERYTHING! Your ‘early self’ comment is right on. In 1968 I was ridding a Triumph 650 motorcycle in a t-shirt, jeans, moccassins, and an ill-fitting helmet with a chin strap nearly strangling me as the wind pushed it back, going 80mph+ on the freeway.

    I survived all my motorcycle accidents, I dress very differently now. Your comment is really a metaphor for life; clueless and offended people will not get that! They don’t see the forest for the trees not being able to see past their nose.

    Jill headgear gal wants to be a neanderthal, so nothing can be done there, just let that one fly off the back end.

    While I don’t get out in the beauty you do regularly, I did do Eco-challenge 97 in BritishColumbia and I recognize all the beauty you tell us of.

    Give yourself permission to realize there are fools, trolls, and mental pigmies you can do nothing about, all you can do is perhaps grow a thicker skin and tell them to f**k off!

  • Reply Cookie at

    I haven’t dedicated my life to the outdoors like many others here have. That being said, I still love getting out there. I have an old pack, old hiking boots and a sleeping bag with some holes in it. Because I haven’t dedicated much time and money on reaearching, finding trails or new gear I rely on blogs like yours. I started hiking about 20yrs ago now and love sleeping under the stars. My own priorities have put other things first. While I wish I had more time to explore places on my own I rely upon yours, and others work. Few people find these places on their own, they should stop pretending like they do.

  • Reply Rachel Brooks-Ames at

    I appreciate both posts you’ve written on this topic and admire your thick skin when it comes to the naysayers. Of course it’s lovely when we can be alone or with our select group in nature, but it’s certainly not a right. The outdoors make us humans happier, more respectful of our surroundings, and provide much-needed perspective when life is hard enough. Maybe if more of us go outside, more of us will understand what massive chunks of nature food production and other modes of industry require, and we as individuals and a society will become more invested in reducing our impact on this beautiful planet by modifying our consumption habits. I like knowing I’m small. Climbing mountains reminds me. I wasn’t born knowing how to do it – how on earth could I have ever learned without starting? I understand people who want to keep trails and crags to themselves. No one’s forcing them to reveal their secretes. What I don’t like is judgment-casting on those who want to share the beauty of nature with others. Sorry if a few more people scramble onto your favorite multi-pitch – because that’s just it. It’s your favorite, not yours. But the main thing that turns my stomach is what I believe to be a separate issue – this #mylifeisbetterthanyourvacation thing. Why would anyone want to say that to anybody? What pleasure can we possibly derive from what may or may not be the misfortune of our peers? That’s not about the outdoors – that’s about a plain and simple lack of compassion and kindness.

  • Reply Lynn (Tahoe Fabulous) at

    For my job, I run an environmental restoration program that hires people to do a year of service in Sierra Nevada. People come from all over the country to participate, and we try to have the orientation near Yosemite so we can do a day in the park. Many of our participants have never been to California, let alone Yosemite, and getting to see their faces as they see Yosemite Valley for the first time is one of the best parts of my job.

    While Yosemite Valley is not some secret, local spot, it does get super crowded and people (including, honestly, me sometimes) do have the “uggh, tourists, get out” feelings about it. But thinking about people seeing the grandeur for the first (or fifth or twentieth) time, I can’t want to keep people out. Obviously, it is critical to reduce our impacts on these amazing places, and I think that environmental education for the public is critical, as well as giving back through volunteering, stewardship and donations and enforcement of access permits and seasonal closures in highly trafficked or critical areas.

    I also eyeroll so hard at the people around here with the “I live where you vacation” gear and hashtags. It’s just rude! I mean, I love living in Tahoe, but my blog name, Tahoe Fabulous, originally came out of a joke making fun of that attitude. My friends and I would take pictures of like, disgusting end-of-winter snow piles or the tire-killing potholes and hashtag #tahoefabulous to showcase all the sides of living in an outdoor “paradise”.

  • Reply Madison Hamblin at

    I think it was really brave of you to address the disagreements that other people had with your post! It’s a true testament to your character that you can take criticism, recognize it and learn from it. I personally loved your original post, as I think the idea of not being better than others should apply to all aspects of life. I don’t think anyone should be judged for not being as good or as knowledgeable as others. I know in the past I have stopped myself from new experiences out of fear that someone would think I wasn’t good enough.

    I personally love to hike. I’m no where near an expert, but I love doing it all the same. I don’t think I should be criticized for not having the proper gear or knowing the best trails. My relationship with nature is personal and really shouldn’t effect anyone else’s life. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Dani at

    There is nothing wrong with not spilling all the details to every location. Part of the outdoors experience is trying to find cool spots; you look at maps, you look for info, you go and see, and sometimes it’s a bust, and sometimes it’s awesome. There is no decree that you need to share all your info–if someone really wants to figure it out, they can do some of the work too. It’s really not too hard these days, with the internet and google maps, to figure out where a photo was taken, if you really try. I am all for people getting outside–and I’ll give lots of info on a lot of places that I know, some easy and some not so easy to access–but I don’t see anything wrong with no spilling ALL the details to my special places.

  • Reply Dani at

    Also, I have used #ilivewhereyouvacation before, but NOT the #mylifeisbetterthanyourvacation. I end up using it when I’m trying to remind myself that where I live is awesome; as someone else mentioned, there are LOTS of downsides to living in a tourist town. I was thinking, “Gosh, I need to remember that some people pay a ton of money to come here and see stuff I see every day” not that somehow I’m better because i live here! Quite the opposite.

  • Reply Lynn @ The Not Dead Yet Blog at

    Oooh, goody, round two! *runs to make popcorn and open a bottle of wine*

    I visited CO last summer. I saw a lot of “Colorado: No Vacancy” bumper stickers and radio ads warning about the dangers of “outsiders.” I shrugged it off, hiked some crowded peaks, climbed some crowded routes. I’m ok with the fact that I am a newbie to all this. Once upon a time, I was also a newbie at things like breathing and eating solid foods. Who cares when you start doing what you love?

    As far as keeping some things to yourself, it’s cool. Here in DC, everyone hikes Old Rag. It’s a Class 3, and some of the scrambles are single-file only, which means you could be waiting in that line for thirty minutes. Unless you get up before dawn. I choose to get up before dawn more and whine less. If anyone asks me about where the good hiking trails are, I tell them. Except…not all of them. There might be two that I keep to myself, ones that I cherish for their quiet. I don’t feel guilty about that. If someone else is looking for an empty trail, well, she’ll just have to find her own, because I’m already here.

  • Reply Jonny Duncan at

    I don’t mind sharing some information with other hikers if they ask about my ultralight hiking setup etc but I try to avoid that if I can help it. I’m in nature to enjoy the peace! I say leave everyone to do their own thing and let them enjoy being out there. Nature snobs can piss off! It’s for everyone!

  • Reply Nicole W at

    You said it best at the end of your post: “introducing more people to The Great Outdoors is the best way to preserve it for the future.” If we don’t invite others in and encourage them to experience the magnificence of nature, the sweetness of finding secluded spots to ponder our roots and our existence, how in the world can we even hope that it will be around for our grandchildren? People want it to be there in the future, but the idea of sharing it now makes them clutch harder and shirk back, screaming, “No, its mine!” The idea of keeping the outdoors to the secluded few who love it now is a prescription for its eventual destruction.

  • Reply Leave No Trace in the Digital Era -Just a Colorado Gal at

    […] I’ve even doubled down on this sharing of information in posts like this one, encouraging others to avoid elitism in the outdoors. In doing so, I’ve offended some {as […]

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