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Mr. Dorn states that, "the very essence of backpacking is exploring remote places." I would hope that any attempt to define the essence of backpacking would also include the need to explore remote places in a responsible manner such that others can continue to enjoy these same places in their natural state. In this particular instance, Backpacker magazine’s feature was so irresponsible that it prompted multi-page responses from both Anita Varley (Yellowstone’s backcountry manager) and 36-year veteran Yellowstone ranger Butch Bach.

By disregarding the impacts that we backpackers may have on remote areas, we sully more than just the reputation of one author or magazine, we sully the reputation of all backpackers, most of whom are responsible. Wild places are assailed enough by developers. Shouldn’t the backpacking community — particularly a leading voice like Backpacker — police itself from adding to the stresses on sensitive off-trail locales? If Backpacker is unable to leave a legacy of untrammeled wild places for our future generations, then who will?

Sean Neilson
Gustavus, Alaska

The author, a former Yellowstone National Park ranger, is a guide and freelance photographer in Glacier Bay National Park.

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