Bean Counter

Outside magazine, October 1999Letters Soul on Ice

I found your recent article about the creation of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic a wonderful piece ("The Very Short History of Nunavut," July). Like some, I'm sad to see the old ways fall away, but recognize the pressures that have pushed the First Nation into the modern world. William T. Vollmann made the interesting point that adventure seekers should consider staying away from Nunavut so as not to spoil it. I appreciate the idea that maybe outdoor recreation and ecotourism aren't necessarily benign—appearing in a magazine otherwise dedicated to being there.

Marty Honel
Cudahy, Wisconsin

I am uneasy about the preservation of traditional Inuit life, an aspiration your recent article about Nunavut seemed to recommend. Is there a sneaking paternalism in the hope of preserving traditional Inuit society? Does it include a wish for the world's largest diorama—a kinder, gentler Museum of Natural History—frozen in time for the intelligentsia to study, admire, visit (treading lightly, to be sure, while discouraging others from making the trip)? Who but each Inuit should decide how much he or she wishes to embrace another culture?

Jeffrey Harper
New York, New York
Bean Counter
I enjoyed Jim Conaway's profile of Maine guides Garrett and Alexandra Conover in your August issue ("Going to the Source"). However, while I applaud their stated reliance on handmade equipment "antedating the sepia pages of an old L.L. Bean catalog," I couldn't help but notice the fairly new-looking pair of Bean boots that Garrett was wearing in the accompanying photograph. At least the canoe paddle looked handmade.

Matthew Jorgensen
Los Angeles, California
Your Way or My Way?
As a mountain biker who's experienced thousands of singletrack encounters with hikers and equestrians, I think "Can't we all just get along?" is a silly question ("Hey (Hey!) You (You!) Get Off of My Trail!" August). Of course we can. Irresponsible cycling is no more inherent to mountain biking than cutting switchbacks is to hiking. Mountain bikers would be a lot less insulted if the almost-universal remedy for user conflict were not exclusively at the expense of cyclists.

Daniel Greenstadt
San Diego, California

Ten years ago the trails near my home were narrow, only as wide as my two feet in some sections. Then the mountain biking craze began. Within three years, these footpaths became as wide as city sidewalks, and the quiet woods became filled with the rattle of chainrings and the noise of bikers hollering back and forth. I've never had a collision with a mountain biker, but I've had several very close calls. Why can't organizations like IMBA endorse separate trails for bikers and hikers?

Tammy Davis
Gaithersburg, Maryland

We are avid hikers, and although we have encountered bikers and horseback riders on the trail, we have never had a conflict. However, we are fed up with the destruction caused by careless deer that erode trail edges with their sharp hooves, and the copious fecal matter left by coyotes, bobcats, and bears, not to mention the filth dropped by thoughtless birds. We must all, bikers, hikers, horsers, join together to eradicate these non-taxpaying nuisances. We will support any and all actions in this cause.

Rob and Anne-Françoise Dames
Hollywood, California
Hold the Salt
Having lived in Baja California Sur, Mexico, and having watched the incredible whales in Laguna San Ignacio, there is no doubt in my mind that the area should be preserved in its current state (Bruce Barcott's "Love and Death and the Leviathan's Lair," July). Yes, ESSA's salt mine could create 200 full-time jobs. But take note: The minimum wage in Mexico is about $3.25 per day. Until there are other economic changes in Mexico, big corporations won't have the same impact that they do in countries like the United States. Whale-watching season is only a few months long, but the economic benefit to local businesses is huge.

Laura O'Hearn
Mulegé, Mexico
Shadow of Coincidence
How eerie it was to find the phrase "John John falls from the sky" in your August table of contents. The hair on my neck stood on end as I read those words and the article they referred to ("Keeping Up with the Cruises," Dispatches). During the exhaustive media coverage of the tragedy, I have heard references to an injured ankle, but not one explanation of how it happened. His paragliding accident last summer seems to have been a spooky precursor to the untimely demise of JFK Jr., his wife, and her sister.

Denise A. Larson
Quincy, Massachusetts


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