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Opinion

Readers React: Blame social media for dumb hikers? John Muir did some hard climbs near L.A., and he didn’t have Instagram

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A boy plays on slippery rock at Hermit Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains.
( Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: An article in the Los Angeles Times details a rise in accidents at increasingly popular trails like Hermit Falls and Switzer Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains — and as is too often the case with articles of this nature, it lays the blame for bad behavior on social media.

While it is true that social media are partially responsible for increasing the awareness of these places, this behavior existed long before Instagram did. Heck, even John Muir scrambled up the lower Eaton Canyon Falls (the heavily used trail to which was briefly closed for similar behavior much more recently), and I don’t think he dragged a photographer along for a killer selfie.

It would be helpful if The Times included information about where readers could find reliable info on trails, or mention that there is a growing group of outdoor social media users who are instilling better outdoor ethics in their posts. Even the Leave No Trace Foundation has added social media guidelines to their namesake principles.

Casey Schreiner, Los Angeles

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The writer is founder of the website Modern Hiker.

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To the editor: The subheadline for the print version of this article says it all: “Thirst for online glory leads to a rise in injuries and rescues.”

What it doesn’t say, however, is that the taxpayers are left paying for the costs of these rescues of these glory-seekers.

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How many thousands of dollars are wasted as a result of these stupid stunts? How many first responders are put at risk in the effort to rescue these selfish people? How much damage is done to our wilderness areas?

It’s time to send invoices to these people, requiring them to pay for their actions.

Ron Streicher, Pasadena

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