Monday, July 10, 2023

Birchbank Trail Register Removed

If you're wondering why there is no longer a logbook in the Birchbank Trail register up at the overlook, this is why: blank and wasted space. Something apparently contagious began happening a few months ago.  A lot of people started skipping pages and lines in the logbook, or scrawling across the diagonally in huge letters. We used to get maybe 3-5 entries per page. Occasionally someone would waste space in the logbook, but it was the exception and not a big deal. It used to look normal, like this: 

Normal logbook entries from back in 2020

Pretty neat, right? A full logbook was our souvenir for maintaining the trail. It's no different that having a guest book for a cottage where you let your friends stay. 

And then shortly after starting the latest new logbook, several people in a row had entries with oversized writing, skipped lines, starting new pages when there was lots of room on the previous page, and even skipping entire pages. People started to think everyone is entitled to use one full page for a few lines of text, and the next person should start a new page. This was a new, leather-bound logbook we volunteers placed there on our own time and with our own money, so that was a little sad. 

But maybe people were simply not familiar with trail register logbooks and what the tradition is. These books are normally in the back country, so they crammed with ink (small print) and very little blank space. I started leaving notes in the book asking people not to skip pages and so forth. Every time I got to the logbook, the note was stuck in the back and the new entries were just a ridiculous as before. 

Lots of blank pages between entries
Lots of half-filled pages

Why write so big? Leave space for others.

Two entire pages for one group of hikers 

So I gave it one last shot. I taped a typed message to the cover pleading with people to not leave a lot of empty space and to finish each page before starting a new one ("please please please"). Then I clamped the earlier pages shut so people couldn't use those as an example. It didn't work.  Soon after, Stephen asked people if they were planning on following the rules on the cover "asking for a friend." And then unironically says "Spread love, be kind." The next entry skips to the next page. The one after that starts yet another page. It's all mostly blank space.  

The response to our request to not leave a lot of blank space.

What is so strange is that we didn't used to have the problem, and suddenly we did. I think a lot of people visiting this trail register have no experience with them and were just copying what other people did. So long as the first several pages were done by people using common sense and respect for the volunteers who maintain the trail they were enjoying, this worked. But then when a bunch of people in a row started setting a bad example, it was all over. 

The bottom line is that we've given up on maintaining a logbook for now. It was nice while it lasted, and our 2020 logbook is a real keeper. This one, not so much. 

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