Beach Architecture

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by chodups, May 5, 2018.

  1. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    How do you feel about “Beach Architecture”? I’m thinking about driftwood structures that are built by paddlers for their use and left in place upon their departure. Maybe a simple wind break on a wilderness beach, or a seating area, benches and table, maybe a pole with a rope to string a tarp over upon your arrival. I’m not talking about a flat tent-sized area that is cleared in the forest above the Spring Tide line but actual, physical infrastructure constructed by someone to accommodate their trip and left in place to maybe be reused by others and maybe not.


    What do you feel about “Leave no trace” ethics and how do these structures fit in to your personal beliefs?
     
  2. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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  3. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    I tolerate simple benches, rearranged rocks, fire rings below high tide, scattered poles for tarpage, and a double brace of destroyed fishing floats dangling from a branch. Signs of human passage, sometimes useful in guiding a new party to using an existing site. These seem in keeping with the nonwilderness character of most of the areas I visit which are official wildernesses.

    In the true wild, I expect nothing, but will see some of that.

    Caveat: my antiquity of 73 years dictates that I have lived through an entire metamorphosis among wilderness lovers who expected no traces but left plenty to a crowd of wilderness enjoyers who expect some traces and try to leave no more than they found.

    Even Mars has signs of human occupancy, though none of us have been there.
     
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  4. AM

    AM Paddler

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    I like the beach architecture: it saves me the hassle of making it myself. Nothing like arriving on a beach to find a fully developed driftwood kitchen.

    Ditto for fire rings. An established ring encourages people to keep their fire to one spot, rather than build ad hoc.

    The irony is that the biggest 'trace' is all the driftwood, escapees from booms and log barges. Yet we take it for granted as part of the natural landscape.

    Cheers,
    Andrew
     
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  5. jefffski

    jefffski Paddler

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    I like kitchen setups in some places. I dismantle fire rings above high tide level and clear away and take garbage and messes left by others. I appreciate brush clearing and flat spaces for tents in the forest. Sometimes I make single rock stands, but they are precarious and likely collapse in high winds.
     
  6. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    Hope I'm not beating a dead horse here but I am truly interested in how fellow paddlers view the "Leave no Trace" ethics. Are they applicable to our travel or were they created by others, for others and suitable only for mountain and inland environments?

    There are 7 principles to ensure that our passing is not memorialized in any way. https://lnt.org/learn/seven-principles-overview Principle #4 is ”Leave What You Find” and it specifically says “Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.”

    Are these principles reasonable for kayaking travel? Do we adopt some and ignore others as it suits our travel needs? Folks seem to agree that creating multiple fire rings is not OK but finding structures that make our stay more convenient may be welcomed. Does that mean that we should remove all traces of fire rings that we find above the high tide line but leave (and appreciate) structures and furniture that suit our needs?

    I’m clearly conflicted on this and would appreciate your opinions.

    Jon
    http://3meterswell.blogspot.com
     
  7. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Jon,

    Your question is a worthy one. I keep on not answering it directly for two reasons.

    1. Many of the encounters I have had with intense LNT devotees have the flavor of a religious zealot attempting to impose his/her set of personal beliefs on mine, rather than an exchange of views on how best to shepherd the land and water for the critters who live there. Trash heaps, human waste left in places where it can do harm, provocatively horrible erosion, and gratuitous damage to vegetation all seem like crimes against nature and esthetics which no sensible visitor to our coastlines would endorse. And, overuse by well meaning but necessarily impactful numbers of humans justifies limits on the number of visitor days on sensitive locations. But a literal Leave No Trace dictum is unreasonably strict.

    2. Further, our visits will leave traces in the realm of soil compaction, crushed vegetation , altered soil and intertidal fauna where we bury our waste, and other low impact acts. If we were browsers like coastal deer, we would even change the ecology by our eating habits and where we choose to leave our droppings. In short, any critter which visits a place has some impact.

    Our goal might be to make sure we minimize the permanent visual and biological impact, while leaving things in a state which does not ruin its esthetics for others. And that allows for a establishing a rough consensus to guide the rules. Inukshuks, benches, singular fire rings, esthetic flotsam on landmark trees at established campsites to prevent widespread camping, and other aspects of our visits need to be negotiated amongst us. Some will offend too many to be tolerated, and we can encourage their absence.
     
  8. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    I'm a bit of a hypocrite as I have been a main part of 'making' usable campsites in very rough or inhospitable areas of Howe Sound - as all the good locations have been privatized or otherwise taken looong ago.

    This has meant making 'boat runs' thru unbelievably large boulder beaches, some trails to unobvious tentsite locations and work in levelling locations for tents and removal of danger trees. [grants and government approval]
    It has also meant removing a fair bit of garbage and even removing a small garbage dump. And to my personal dismay, it has meant erecting signs to show where these sites are and what organizations were involved in the process. However as a consequence, these new sites are receiving much usage and therebye are influencing the delivering of more sites in the area. To me, this far outweighs the intervention concerns for these type of high usage, poor geographical situations.

    however,
    For sites that are not developed or likely to be developed, for wilderness 'experiences' [a loaded term that is often misunderstood: I don't mean wilderness actuality], we should NOT leave really obvious traces of our passing through - and that we should 'randomize' our setups as we move on to the next. The simple reason is that each new arriver then gets his/her own 'wilderness experience' or challenge to arrange the usable elements in their own fashion.

    However the main reason we should NOT make semipermanent fixtures in our path is that others get inspired to add a little more and a little more to that footprint - and if we're not careful that will [and has] really work to our disadvantage in the long run - that's if we care about those present sites for the future.

    So I would strongly encourage minimal intervention and 'randomization' after usage of undeveloped sites.

    **

    big rant:
    [And art in the landscape . . . . my stomach turns that nearly all public art gets continually dumped and dumped and dumped in the parks, greenspaces, and landscape - where as public art it absolutely doesn't belong and if good art, over shadows the gentle contemplation of the connected visual field and if bad, destroys any gentle contemplation. It's a cheap trick and a cheap method by the artist to get contrast for his work and a cheap method by society to not deal with public art where it belongs - in public spaces for the public to contemplate and be confronted!]
    sorry, rant over.

    **

    and specific to the point raised by jon and dave here's a proposed code of ethics that the bcmtna stewardship committe has come up with:
    https://www.bcmarinetrails.org/how-to-help/code-of-ethics
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2018
  9. dut

    dut Paddler

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    There must be limits on how much we alter wilderness sites. One could argue zero tolerance but that would eliminate some sites and put more pressure on others. So regarding Mick's comments on creating runs is valid we wouldn't have access to some sites at all without some work. As for beach furniture at least it is not (semi)permanent and many would build something anyway. As for beach art no matter how good the intentions it is just graffiti and has no place in our wilderness.

    Barry
     
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  10. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    This is pretty good, I think. Two notes: 1. No explicit remarks on beach sculptures. Did I miss something? 2. A commercial pitch in the disposal of human waste section for a rather bulky, expensive option. A wag bag and protective heavyweight overbag might be more suitable, and certainly cheaper.
     
  11. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    I think/hope the beach sculpture issue is a minor concern and that's why not addressed.

    The wag bag approach is a great alternative although a holder/seat would be a welcome addition if it weren't a separate structure. To this end, I/ve often thought that a slight reconfiguration of the carts we have could possibly do this quite well as well as maybe also being used as a frame for a beach chair. We should have a group design development thread for this, heh heh.
     
  12. pryaker

    pryaker Paddler

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    I have to chime in on this one. I HATE finding built stuff on beaches! I destroy them whenever I find em. I'm not a leave no trace fanatic either, I just like to have the illusion that I'm in the wilderness. In my opinion kitchen structures, seating, tarp poles, all should be taken down before leaving. Fire pits also kind choke me a bit too, especially the big deep ones some people build. And whats the point of building a ring anyway? And sorry Dave, for me hanging old floats off trees is just hanging garbage up.

    end of rant...
     
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  13. Rodnak Kayak

    Rodnak Kayak Paddler

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    Great stuff here. I used to "appreciate" a small kitchen area, and a fire pit, but now...I like the "Randomization" deal. Plus, as someone said (there was just so much great sage stuff here!) They just keep building on it. As I do recall, my most fun times were building something from a piece of driftwood or two, then leaving it, knowing tides wind and more should take care of it. Well now breaking camp, will be more of a "natural demolition", so the next paddler can choose their own path to driftwood furniture building 101. so far as art goes, maybe on a beach around town, so to speak, but, way out, say on the Brooks Peninsula, it might make a very cool Burning Man substitute! :cool::D
     
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  14. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Yeah, I understand that. I think we operate from different value systems. I find bumping into reality regularly (and sometimes with injury) is refreshing. But, when the "rules" in a designated wilderness area stipulate removal or erasure of those features you abhor, I adhere to those rules.
     
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  15. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    I think there's a HUGE difference between minimal structures that are made of natural objects and leaving trash. I don't mind finding a table where I did not expect one--it improves my life! As long as it fits in, I'm good with it. :)
     
  16. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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    So have you knowingly destroyed any of Kayak Bill's works? I think there's a case to be made that his backcountry engineering has historical/cultural significance.
    I too like at least the illusion of wilderness - some of my best trips have been when I haven't spoken to anyone for days. That said, furniture improvised from driftwood, flotsam and jetsam doesn't bother me. Big fire pits do, as does litter, abandoned store-bought beach chairs, etc.
    Floats off trees I consider the kayaker's equivalent of a hobo sign: "here be a place to rest for the night." They've been lifesavers for me when trying to find where along a surfy beach to come ashore, to refill my water bags, or to access the door through the waterside jungle into a tentable upland. I'd argue they actually reduce environmental impact, by making it unnecessary for each new visitor to hack their own entrance and clear their own tent site.

    end of sermon...
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
  17. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Well said, Philip. I think we are members of the OAAT Vanguard.









    Old Age And Treachery ... ( will triumph over youth and skill every time).
     
  18. pryaker

    pryaker Paddler

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    Nope Writer, neither knowingly or unknowingly as I've never been up in that neck of the woods and if I had been there I think I would have recognized his craftsmanship and left it. You have a good point though, there are some works of man that should be left alone for their historic or practical value. I wouldn't trash a cabin or a bridge or an outhouse. Seating and tables you might say serve a purpose but for me they should be temporary and built to suit then dismantled. If it's artfully done perhaps it has a place but run of mill piles of wood; not so much. Picnic tables and fire rings are for car camping at State or Provincial parks.

    Then there's the really stupid stuff, like what I think might have been some sort of changing or shower enclosure made from a piece of plastic construction fencing tied with yards of rope and string to living trees, or big honkin tow ropes tied up between trees, or floats hanging by the dozen, all those are just people leaving trash around.
     
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  19. pryaker

    pryaker Paddler

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    Oh, just saw Rodnak's post and that a much more eloquent way of saying it, nice work! Randomization is a good way putting it. I tend to spread out the pieces I've used and like to think someone else will like the small joy of discovering that perfect flat chunk of kitchen driftwood that's behind the stump in the corner of the beach. And the bit about burning man is right on. Often crappy structures are a great source of firewood!
     
  20. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    I also appreciate a stack of firewood, and try to leave one if we don't use it all. It's nice to come into a campsite tired and hungry and find wood ready for you. :)