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121 Labor Day, Busy Day 2009-09-07

Crowds on Grand Teton Summit

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, was made an official holiday by President Grover Cleveland in 1894. On that day Americans are honored for their efforts and labors in the building of America.

Through the years Labor Day has become the last hurrah of the summer. The three day weekend is the last good chance to recreate until the workers next break at Thanksgiving.

The problem with Labor Day is that everyone gets the same day off. Then everybody who owns a car is driving it someplace. The horrific traffic leads to anxious drivers. It is amazing anyone gets anywhere.

Once you finally get to the trailhead, there is no place to park. You could park sort of near the trailhead but it would just enlarge the already too big parking area. Down the road a hardened pullout is your only option. You were going to sleep in the car, but the car is tilted sideways at such an angle, you are falling onto the gear shift located between the seats.

Morning comes and you try to work the kinks out of your stiff neck. Finishing your packing you begin your hike into the backcountry area. All of the designated campsites are taken. You could just make camp near one of the other sites, but go back down the trail and get a not so great site further away from the pristine lake you were wanting to camp near. Soon the area where you chose to camp is overrun with a group of twenty-five teenagers who just didn’t want to walk any further. Your camp looked great to them.

Early the next morning you begin your climb. The trail is crowded with all of those who were camped with you, against you, and all around you. You hee-haw a few times, join the mule train, and finally make it to the summit. The glorious summit. The climax of your trip. The only problem is that you have to stand in line to actually reach the summit block. You do have the privilege of sharing the summit area with fifty of your closest friends, that you really do not know.

A crowded rappel and you are finally off of the climb. You hee-haw again but realize the inevitable and join the mule train to return to your camp.

On Tuesday morning you drag into work, ready for a vacation from all your holiday fun!

Any day in the mountains beats a day in the office. And the three day weekends are great, but you have to be creative to find areas that are not overpopulated. The damaging effects of crowds in wilderness areas are not easily restored.. .Maybe we will just go bowling this Labor Day!

Happy trails.


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