June 11, 2015

"Rapp sat alone on a rock. A raven appeared. Unflinchingly, it approached..."

"... and patiently ate a piece of salami out of her hand. It had never happened to her before. 'The way the raven looked at me, so intently, so. …,' Rapp said, the thought drifting, unfinished. 'Yeah, it was Dean.'"

The last few lines of a NYT article by John Branch titled "Lost Brother in Yosemite/Dean Potter jumped. Graham Hunt followed. Potter’s longtime girlfriend snapped photographs. Then came confusion, hope and despair."

The writing style — "Unflinchingly, it approached... the thought drifting, unfinished..." — bugged the hell out of me, but refocus: There's interesting material about whether BASE jumping should be allowed in the National Parks, especially Yosemite, the best BASE jumping place in the world.
The frustration for Potter and other BASE advocates has been the apparent lack of consistency in park policies. It is generally legal to catch a fish but not to pick flowers. Horses are allowed on many trails, but mountain bikers are not. The Merced River is a jumble of colorful rafts carrying tourists; El Capitan is a dot-to-dot slate of climbers and ropes; and Yosemite even allows hang gliding on a limited basis off Glacier Point, not far from Taft Point. Potter was allowed to string tightropes between formations. But if he fell, it was illegal, in theory, to prevent his own death with a parachute.
Regulations. At least try to be consistent. Jumble of rafts tourists and dot-to-dots of climbers and ropes — that sounds bad. If that's allowed, things that seem less bad should be allowed... maybe. Do we want people to in the parks, using these grand landscapes or not?

Who are the right kind of people for the national parks? People who drive through and stop at the lookout points and maybe take a short hike where they stay on the trail? That's pretty much what I do. I'm into quiet contemplation of unspoiled beauty.

From a selfish perspective, I'd like rules — in these great gems of American scenery — that enforce reverence. But I'm a little too freedom-loving to want to wreck the fun of folks who like their rubber-raft thrill rides or whatever.

And yet, there's a part of me that identifies with the Malaysians who arrested a British tourist for responding to a mountain they regard as sacred by stripping off her clothes:
Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, the deputy first minister of neighbouring Sarawak state... told state media: "Some places have their own historical background and are sacred to the local community and, as such, visitors to these places should respect the place, the local traditions and cultures. If we go to a mountain, there is what I call a mountain protocol to be observed. We local people believe that there is someone, the guardians of these places, and there is a form of order of sacredness for those who go to the mountain to respect."...

"To appease the mountain protector, the 10 western tourists who stripped and urinated on Mount Kinabalu should be fined 10 head of buffalo, according to local customs," said Tindarama Aman Sirom Simbuna [a tribal elder]. He said the fee was more than the usual fine of 10 chickens or one pig. 'According to local beliefs, the spirit of the mountain is very angry. The tourists who angered the guardian of the mountain should pay for their mistakes by giving 'sogit’ (a peace offering)," he said.
The anger was manifest by an earthquake, and readers of the liked article, in the British press, are of course, expected to regard the reverence for the landscape as ignorant and to embrace the lovely, young, selfie-taking Westerner. Here she is in her "yoga pose":



Yoga is a way to look cute and free and flexible. A mountain is just a mountain and a bendy twisty pose is just exercise. Or it is whatever it is to you. Or when do you you rein yourself in a respect what others revere?  A raven, unflinchingly, approaches and the thought drifts, unfinishedly... yeah, it was God.

35 comments:

furious_a said...

He said the fee was more than the usual fine of 10 chickens or one pig.


...but how much for the little girl?

El Camino Real said...

Actually, the raven was one of Odin's helping spirits.

Carol said...

Notice ads for women stuff like to feature women in yoga poses. Usually cross-legged with arms overhead like some Hindu dancer. I guess it's supposed to make us feel all calm and centered, or something. Yeah that's me, on a good day, all calm and centered.

I guess women eat that up.

rhhardin said...

I heard on talk radio a woman caller calling Ranger Jim about a Robin that landed on her table and chirped at her. She figured it wanted water, there being a drought, so she poured him a little water, which the Robin drank and flew away.

I thought, "That's my Robin." I'd raised one, and he came out skilled at begging.

Raised outdoors and free, but fed all the time so he hung around. He'd wait in the trees at the back fence and fly up and land on my head when I got home, begging for blueberries, which are Robin drugs, for a couple of months after he was flying.

I no longer know how to raise orphan baby birds because Purina reformulated Cat Chow so that it no longer soaks up milk, which was a necessary trick.

MayBee said...

People should be allowed to base jump in the National Parks if they understand they may die doing so.
Our country still has great spaces for hiking, bonfires, base jumping, and freedom. I met a Ukrainian guy in London who said he wanted to leave the UK and go to the US because in the US you could still do things like have bonfires, drive dune buggies, and camp. He said the UK is too regulated and things like that are unavailable. That's true!

As for the girl in Malaysia- look at the way she's dressed! I bet she fancied herself quite a child of the world, full of love and understanding of all cultures.

MayBee said...

Not unlike the girl who loved lions so much in South Africa.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I wouldn't blame anybody for exercising a little poetic license if the raven actually ate a piece of bologna.

furious_a said...

Not unlike the girl who loved lions so much in South Africa.

...or the guy in Alaska who (used to) commune with bears.

Little Miss Strippy Yoga-Pose ought to be careful where she does her "references". There are people in places not far away, like the Dayak in Borneo, who are maybe two generations removed from headhunting.

furious_a said...

"reverences", stupid auto-correct

Chris N said...

My Yoga studio has a community rooftop anti-GMO animal rights NOW 'giving station' which is collecting donations to come have Abiki, the North African tribal warlord, speak and hang-out.

What we know of his story is inspiring.

AllenS said...

Is she ladyspreading?

EMD said...

This post is a hot mess. Look at all of the tags.

Ann Althouse said...

Salami, salami, bologna.

Chris N said...

You say Salami, I say Bologna.

EMD said...

Nature is cruelly neutral.

Ann Althouse said...

"This post is a hot mess. Look at all of the tags."

I forgot meat.

Anglelyne said...

AllenS: Is she ladyspreading?

Lol.

(I think ladyspreading is more verbal than physical, though. Like that woman in yoga pants in the produce section talking loudly into her iPhone about her lady complaints.)

EMD said...

I forgot meat.

Meat is important.

Smilin' Jack said...

He said the fee was more than the usual fine of 10 chickens or one pig. 'According to local beliefs, the spirit of the mountain is very angry. The tourists who angered the guardian of the mountain should pay for their mistakes by giving 'sogit’ (a peace offering)," he said.

I doubt even the local yokels believe that stupid shit. Third-worlders love any excuse to shake down western tourists.

Mary Beth said...

...but how much for the little girl?

The Raven was on a mission from God.

William said...

They didn't want to allow ball fields in Central Park when it first opened. Different generations enjoy nature in different ways.....I'm not against young attractive women taking off their clothes to salute the sun. But deference must be paid to sensibilities about the local holy places. Yoga pants are not fit attire for St Patrick''s Cathedral.

Peter said...

I'd be inclined to permit activities which don't drive out other activities or cause damage to the Park.

If you want to die BASE jumping I don't really care, so long as you don't create hazards for me or impose any significant costs, such as making some areas off-limits to non-jumpers, or significantly increasing the public costs of search and rescue.

BUT if you want to ride dirt bikes around Yosemite then I'll object, as they'll not only damage the park but they're likely to drive most other users out.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

'Yeah, it was Dean.'
Like, deep, man.
Stupid hillbilly redneck redstaters, clinging to their religion.

jimbino said...

Why is taking off your clothes a sign of disrespect? And why is wearing shorts into a Catholic cathedral a sign of disrespect?

If God had wanted us to run around naked, he would have made us that way!

Birches said...

f you want to die BASE jumping I don't really care, so long as you don't create hazards for me or impose any significant costs, such as making some areas off-limits to non-jumpers, or significantly increasing the public costs of search and rescue.

BUT if you want to ride dirt bikes around Yosemite then I'll object, as they'll not only damage the park but they're likely to drive most other users out.


This is the reason for most of the "incomprehensible" rules of the National Parks. Mountain bikers and regular hikers don't mix very well; horses are less of a problem. Fishing is ok because you pay for a permit to do it and there are plenty of fish--they are not in danger of disappearing.

John Scott said...

They allow hang gliding off of Glacier Point, but it's very restricted. First of all, you just can't show up to fly. You must reserve a spot in advance. Also, you must be on the ground before, I believe, noon. Why so early? They want you to land before the sun starts heating up the ground. No heating no thermals. No thermals no soaring. And that's the intention. They take away what makes the sport so special. It would be like allowing BASE jumping but only on a static line. Meanwhile, across the Sierra's in the Owens Valley there's a good chance pilots are getting above 15,000 ft on their way to triple digit mile flights. I'll take the Owens.

Julie C said...

Go visit Yosemite in the winter. Much less crowded, incredibly beautiful, and you stand a better chance of getting a reservation at the Ahwahnee for a few nights, where you can enjoy the big fireplace when you get cold. Who needs base jumping when you can sit by the fire and enjoy a glass of wine?

Birches said...

"The reason we would like to discourage it is not so much because of the danger of it, but the spectacle of it,” O’Neal said during an interview at the park’s Emergency Operations Center. “We like to think that people come here to enjoy the scenery, and not the spectacle of people jumping.”

I hadn't thought of this before, but it strikes me as true. People don't just sit and watch rock climbers for fun, but they would for BASE jumpers. It could easily turn into an X games like event, a spectator sport.

LarsPorsena said...

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Gahrie said...

we have some great hang gliding/paragliding here in San Bernardino. They take off from Lake Arrowhead and land behind Cal State. I'm told it is one of the few places where people regularly land higher up than they take off.

John Scott said...

Gahrie

In San Bernardino they either launch from Marshall Peak or Crestline. Both are above the LZ near Cal State. If you mean that pilots soar above launch that happens at every site in the world as long as the conditions are right. Since it is sunny in So Cal 350 days in the year Crestline is soarable more days than most.

furious_a said...

jimbino said...
Why is taking off your clothes a sign of disrespect? And why is wearing shorts into a Catholic cathedral a sign of disrespect?


Because you're a guest in their country/sacred space, and should understand that what's cool with you might not be with them, and act accordingly.

Gahrie said...

In San Bernardino they either launch from Marshall Peak or Crestline. Both are above the LZ near Cal State

Yep...trucks and cars with racks of gliders on them heading up the hill are a common sight.

I was told years ago (back when the LZ was just a flat space bulldozed out of the surroundings) that in the summer it was possible to land back on the hill instead of the LZ and that people actually landed higher up than they took off.

Being just a little afraid of heights, I have no experience in the area. I just love to watch.

John Scott said...

Due to the lack of trees and other obstacles you can "top land" Marshall Peak. I'm guessing the altitudes here, but the Crestline launch is probably just under 6k while Marshall is somewhere in the mid 3s. I've been up to 13k after launching from one of those sites. I've also flown to Mount Wilson and back.

Kit said...

The comment about the raven makes more sense in the context of an interview Potter gave to Steven Kotler for his book, Rise of Superman. Potter described a near-death experience while base-jumping during which he crumbled to the ground by a dying sparrow and believed, for a moment, that his consciousness and that of the sparrow were joined.