I’ve written before about some of the risks involved when people become too dependent on their technological gadgets. Sometimes the results are mostly amusing, as with that Swedish couple who, having mis-typed the name of their destination into their GPS device, ended up in the Northern Italian town of Carpi rather than at the Isle of Capri.
Sometimes, though, the results can be a little more serious, as a recent article in the New York Times points out. Sometimes, visitors become so engrossed in playing with their technological toys that they fail to pay attention to the physical world around them.
A French teenager was injured after plunging 75 feet this month from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon when he backed up while taking pictures.
In other cases, their faith in their gadgets, such as GPS devices and cellphones, leads them to discount the risks of wilderness travel in a state of ignorance.
“Because of having that electronic device, people have an expectation that they can do something stupid and be rescued,” said Jackie Skaggs, spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
“Every once in a while we get a call from someone who has gone to the top of a peak, the weather has turned and they are confused about how to get down and they want someone to personally escort them,” Ms. Skaggs said. “The answer is that you are up there for the night.”
One lost hiker called the ranger station on his cellphone, and asked if they could bring him some hot chocolate.
Going on back-country trips can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be dangerous for the uninitiated, who do not sufficiently appreciate the degree to which Mother Nature can be a bitch.
In an era when most people experience the wild mostly through television shows that may push the boundaries of appropriateness for entertainment, rangers say people can wildly miscalculate the risks of their antics.
So, if you want to go on a wilderness trip, make sure you have essential supplies, like food, water, and maps. Take your GPS and cellphone, by all means; but take someone along who knows what he’s doing, too.