We use technology everyday of our lives, but sometimes, we head to the backcountry to get out of that routine. However, it’s a common misconception that the backcountry is free from all technology. Sure, some people choose to go in without their phones or iPads. But, to think that technology isn’t used at all in nature is just wrong. When you say you’re heading to the backcountry to escape technology, don’t forget how much it has influenced our time outdoors. If you choose to ignore this, then you might not be that outdoor-savvy after all.
So, you may not be able to see it, but they’re there. Without satellites, people would have a very hard time getting anywhere outside. Though they aren’t necessary, many hikers rely on satellites in order to have a connection to our GPSes. Or, to have the ability to make a phone call when in danger. Without satellites, we wouldn’t be able to map out trails, mountains, elevation, and all those other things that are really important when planning a hike.
2. Campfires and cooking stoves
In case you’ve forgotten, fire was once the world’s most amazing piece of technology. Making a campfire outdoors is using a technique that was not known about at one point in history. Every time you light a campfire, remember that it was once the technology of the cavemen. Now, we have faster ways of making a fire, and even more efficient ways of cooking with it. Never fail to realize that the cooking stoves we use are incredible.
3. Animal trackers
You know those bands you see tied around a bird’s wing or an wolf’s neck? Without those, researchers would have no way of knowing how the population of an endangered species is doing, or if you are safe from the animals. One really exciting part of hiking is being able to experience wildlife first hand. Without the ability to keep tabs on these animals, the outdoors would be pretty…bleak. Next time you’re lucky enough to see that California Condor flying above your head, remember this.
4. Education initiatives
National Parks do an incredible job at providing educational opportunities for all ages. Some of these are available online, while others happen in person at various recreation sites. The materials used, whether they be print or digital, are of course all thanks to good ole’ technology. How else would you be able to learn so extensively about where you’re going? And, why wouldn’t you want to learn, even if it meant engaging in something you thought you wanted to get away from?
5. Medicine and first-aid
It wouldn’t be possible to survive in the backcountry without the help of medicinal technology. Even though getting bit by a rattlesnake can be deadly, at least there is antivenom that exists. Imagine what it would be like if it didn’t? What about treatment for dehydration or hypothermia? If there weren’t ways to cure things things or treat them while you’re miles away from any hospital, people would be a lot more hesitant about hiking. You probably don’t want to be one of those people.
6. SAR teams
If you wanted to escape technology completely, then you’d be in a pretty bad situation if a search and rescue team wasn’t able to get to you. Technology helps teams rescue over 2,000 people every year in the United States alone (some that get bit by rattlesnakes and need antivenom). But seriously, what if the helicopter was never invented? That would really be unfortunate.
7. Filtered water
It’s amazing how people have come up with ways to get clean water anywhere. The fact that you don’t need to carry along gallons of water with you into the backcountry is mind blowing when you think about it. No matter how you purify your water, either by a tablet, gadget, or even just boiling, it hasn’t always been as easy as it is now. Unless you’ve purchased a new water filter recently, you probably haven’t thought about this in a while.
8. Monitoring geographical features
The outdoors is not always as perfect as it seems. Things are always changing, that can make a difference in your hike and your overall experience. Technology allows scientists and researchers to be able to see how much weathering and erosion is happening in a place. It allows them to see if earthquakes are likely or if a volcanic eruption is a risk. It allows them to see if bad weather is coming your way. You might not always see this happening before your eyes, but because of it, you’ll feel more comfortable hiking.
Before you try to escape technology completely, first understand a little more about it. It’s all around us, even when we are outside and it seems like it’s non-existent. Next time you say you’re heading to the outdoors to escape the buzz, just remember, you can never really escape it. And, that’s not always a bad thing.