Let the Sounds of Nature Prevail

Standard

La Sal mountains near Moab, Utah

We hadn’t been awake long when The Lady of the House pulled back the curtain between the van’s front seats and the living area and looked out the windshield. She reported a dog running around between my van and the camp next door. As far as she could tell, the dog was not accompanied by a human.

The Lady and I were on an epic road trip in Arizona and Utah. We’d spent the night in a free BLM camping area on Willow Springs Road northwest of Moab. We were going to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park that morning, and we were up early in hopes of arriving in time to get a site in the Park’s Willow Flat Campground. When we spilled out of the van, we found chilly air and frost on the table we’d set up the night before, but we were not deterred. We were determined to get on the road as soon as possible.

As we prepared our simple breakfast (oatmeal for The Lady and eggs and cheese on a flour tortilla for me), the dog The Lady had seen earlier continued to run around unattended. It tried to come into our camp, but I shooed it away, telling it to Go home! It finally settled down next to the small SUV parked across the road from us.

While we ate, a young woman emerged from the tent pitched a short distance beyond the small SUV. From the way she reacted to the dog, we could tell they were traveling companions.

The young woman bustled around her vehicle, opening and closing doors, but I didn’t really pay much attention to her until she reached into the vehicle and turned on its radio. A dreadful slow jam destroyed the morning quiet.

Granted, it was past the customary 6am cutoff for quiet time on public land, and the young woman was not blasting the tunes. However, The Lady and I could clearly hear the music across the road in our camp, which means to me the music was too loud. I would have probably been more forgiving if it had been afternoon, but the music was destroying the morning peace. I might not have minded as much had the songs I was subjected to been some that I liked, but the music the stranger enjoyed was grating noise to my ears. However, even if she had been playing the Grateful Dead, I still would have thought the music was being played too loudly and too early for public land.

I once read a publication from the Forest Service that said people on public land should “let the sounds of nature prevail.” That mandate has stuck with me. People are ostensibly out in nature because they want to enjoy nature. When I’m out in nature, I want to enjoy silence or, at most, some energetic bird song. I do not venture into nature to listen to over-produced radio music.

I didn’t say anything to the young woman. I didn’t walk over to her camp to let her know her music was bothering me or suggest she find a portable device and earbuds. The Lady and I were leaving once we cleaned up from breakfast after all. I just gritted my teeth while we packed up and hoped we’d find more considerate neighbors in the National Park.

I took the photo in this post.

4 Responses »

  1. I feel your pain Blaize. Last week we camped for a few days at Las Vegas Bay Campground, one of the small campgrounds in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Our neighbor played his music just a little too loud all day. When we finally went inside for the day Tony said to me ” You’d never think classical music could be so annoying” but it really was annoying. I wish everyone followed the simple rules of common courtesy and good behavior when camping. The dog running loose was a clue about the young woman’s unawareness or just plain disregard of these things.

  2. Unfortunately people behave this way all over it. While taking a train in to the city or on an airplane, seem to have no respect for others. Last month I was waiting in DMV and some guy was watching videos on his phone with the music turned way up. Like going to DMV is no annoying enough without having to listen to that crap. But out in the wild sounds really do carry.

    • Tina, you make a good point about sound carrying. When I was a camp host, I often noticed that city people were so loud. I eventually realized that they didn’t understand that out in nature, sound carries a lot farther than in does in the city. I guess in the city there’s a lot to stop and muffle sound. Also, in the city, people live on top of each other, so I think they grow accustomed to hearing each other’s noise. They are probably pretty good at tuning that noise out.

I'd love to know what you think. Please leave a reply