Tim Ludington was our NPS foreman during our front country time in Wawona. Quite a guy. Here is one of the many lessons he passed on that has stayed with me to this day…
One day several of us were making fun of ‘city slickers’ who run up to places like Wawona to enjoy a day ‘in the mountains’ and then run back to the city as soon as possible. We tried to make the point that if they really wanted to see the mountains, they needed to get off the roads and out of the established campgrounds and really see something.
Lud took it all in. Then he said (and I paraphrase): I understand your point, and I know where you’re coming from. I love the wilderness, too. It’s why I do what I do. But have you ever considered this…there are a lot of reasons why people might only be able to come up to a place like Wawona. Maybe it’s a family, and the bread winner can only get a couple of days of from work. They can hang out down in the city, or they can head up to the mountains. Maybe this is the best place they can reach with the time and money they have. (And you know, this is a great place to reach, anyway, isn’t it?) Maybe they’ve got physical limitations and just can’t get out on a trail. Maybe for some people, coming up to Wawona really is stretching their comfort zone and this is wilderness to them. It’s a challenge for them and they come out and do it. Then those people go home to wherever it is they came from. Then a wilderness issue come up on a ballot sometime in the future. Those people remember the time they had in Wawona, and they decide to vote for whatever issue is going to help preserve and protect the wilderness wherever it is they are from. I think that’s a pretty fair trade off…making some places like Wawona super accessible in order to help out the bigger picture of wilderness preservation everywhere. What do you think?
This is just one of Lud’s lessons that I’ve never forgotten in my twenty-eight years of working natural resources conservation. And it’s something for you to think about, too.