I stole a rock from a National Park. When I was 14, I took a backpacking trip with my grandpa, aunt and uncle, sister and parents from Dosewallips to Graves Creek. If you are unfamiliar with this route, it is quite pretty and a great start to a backpacking life. The path goes basically from Hood Canal to Lake Quinault, while skirting up Anderson Pass, next to the famous Anderson Glacier. On the last night, we stayed near the Chalet in Enchanted Valley. I spent the early hours of the next day climbing up the dried out waterfalls, looking in the creek beds for quartz crystals. While not rare, they are pretty, I was hoping to find something that would be a good souvenir.
After about an hour of searching without finding anything that looked great, I returned down the cliffs, toward our camp. As I was walking back, I met my uncle who was taking in the sights. We chatted for a few and decided to return to the rest of our group and end our week long backpacking trip. As he took the first step toward the valley, the most glorious fist sized quartz crystal shimmered where his boot was, catching my eye both with it’s size and its transparency. I quickly snagged it up, having found the ultimate memory for this trip. As I placed it in my back back down at camp, I experienced pangs of guilt. I knew I shouldn’t take it, but I figured that nobody would ever know. While rules were rules, I felt like I earned this gift. I swallowed the guilt, zipped up my backpack and hiked 13 miles to the car without mentioning it to anyone. Today, the crystal sits in a box in my parents attic, along with numerous other keepsakes from my lifetime of journeys.
I suppose I shouldn’t have taken the rock. I mean, I did violate a rule of the parks. I was a kid. The same kid who threw a few rocks in the Grand Canyon because the ranger said “we can’t throw rocks into the canyon because if everyone who visited threw a rock, the canyon would get filled up…”. Even as a kid, I looked at her incredulously. This is the dumbest logic I have ever heard, and because of her, I threw a few rocks over the edge. Had she just said “we want to protect this area and people might get hurt” I would have never broken a rule. Again, I was a kid and I did stupid things.
I thought this was what all kids did. Well, until I saw this letter sent to a ranger at Yosemite National Park from a small child.
Whether or not this Evies parents forced the writing of this letter is not important. What is important is that this kid was taught a lesson about responsibility in nature. They learned at an early age that we need to always be thinking about our impact on the environment. Finally, this kid learned about their mean, but awesome parents. Maybe Evie wrote this with no pushing from his parental units, but I doubt it. Either way, this kid is a rock star and we should all take a page out of his book.
Remember, take only pictures, leave only footprints.