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So Much For Subtlety

posted May 17, 2019, 7:30 AM by Mick Levin
Polly's Cove has three parking spaces. A few short years ago it was a rarity to see another vehicle there when rolling up to visit Joey Ramone, Holiday Wall, the Foundation, Polly's Warm Up, or Polly's Proper and the dozens of excellent lines scattered among them. On a recent weekend there were twenty-seven vehicles thronging both sides of the road when we rolled up to go work the proj.

A handful of narrow game trails have become muddy, braided highways to nowhere. Small puddles grow to fetid lakes as sightseers stomp foliage to avoid getting dirt on their Yeezys. Discarded coffee cups, kleenex, and plastic-wrapped dogshit lines the path. Picturesque scenery is interrupted by a selfie-stick or professional photo shoot atop every vantage point. The lapping of waves is drowned out by drones buzzing overhead. Oblivious tourists trample sensitive vegetation indiscriminately, proudly posting photos of their accomplishments online.


Duncan's Cove, Chebucto Head, Polly's Cove, and lately even the back reaches of the LOC are getting more traffic than ever before from people who aren't invested in the sustainability of these locations in the way that (at least some) climbers are. Climbers have largely had these spots to themselves for decades, and mostly treated them with the respect they deserved. Individuals caught making a mess or otherwise behaving badly were shamed by the climbing community, educated on group norms, and brought into line. These days we can't rely on "the community" to deliver those messages, since the vast majority of visitors aren't there for climbing and will probably never return once they have gotten the requisite Instagram geotag to add to their feed.

I'm all for people getting outside to enjoy Nova Scotia this long weekend, and I would certainly rather that my taxes pay to repair trails instead of to treat lifestyle diseases. Still, it would be nice if folks made some effort to leave beautiful places in the better shape than when they came. What's to be done about it? A few hundred negative reviews of your favorite places on Tripadvisor probably wouldn't hurt.
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