Last week my wife and I decided to take some time off and go camping in this beautiful fall weather we have been experiencing. While we were planning on going to the Uinta Mountains, I got some advice from the Forest Service that where I wanted to go was very muddy due to the rains and I decided not to take the chance of getting stuck with the trailer, so we went to San Rafael.
The first day we were there was quiet and that afternoon some guys in van pulled up across the way and another truck followed later pulling a tent trailer. As we did a little riding on that second day the camp ground began to fill up. About three that afternoon a truck arrived with a variety of ATVs and a UTV. They pulled up next to the tent campers who were already there. That is when the trouble began.
Up to that point things had been great. Then all hell broke loose. Others in the campground who had ATVs had been riding them out of camp and then going off on their own. This group did just the opposite. Suddenly the entire campground loop was filled with kids riding their ATV's and the UTV around again and again. They were speeding, creating tons of dust, going the opposite direction of the one way signs and none of them had helmets on despite most of them were under 18 years of age. This went on for a couple of hours until it got dark.
While this was happening a number of other people drove through the camp ground looking for camping spots. Most had bicycles on their cars, some were obvious just campers and hikers. One even pulled into a spot, watched the commotion for awhile and then pulled out. The next morning I saw many of these same people camping in places away from the camp ground. I can't say definitely why they didn't pull in and stay at the campground, but I bet it wasn't the six bucks it cost per night.
This is the kind of behavior that gives all of us who love our ATVs a bad name. It's also the same for other kinds of things many of us like to do.
For instance, most gun owners are courteous, but then you find the ones that blasted the hell out of road sign in the middle of nowhere or left casings laying all over with ravaged cans and bottles splintered all over the landscape.
Or what about those who run their boats too close to swimmers at a lake, those who take their jeeps up hills that are closed to vehicles or those who rock climb and leave broken or worn out gear and garbage on ledges for others to pick up. The list of activities that are enjoyable, but can be abused and cause concern by others can go on and on.
We as ATV people are always saying that we should police each other and that will stop the problem. But none of us (including me) in that campground wanted to go over and tell the 14 member camp that was causing the problem that they should stop and be more courteous. I guess that was our failing, but it isn't easy to tell people that kind of thing, especially when you might have to coexist with them for two or three days two camp spots away.
After the noise quit and it got really dark all the camps quieted down and I thought the noise was over. Then about 11 p.m. one of them started up a two stroke (without mufflers mind you) and the UTV and drove around camp a couple of times and then out onto the road where you could hear them for three miles before the sound faded out. They returned at 1 a.m. just pouring it on as they pulled into camp.
The next morning my wife and I got up and decided to leave. We had planned to spend another day, but I found myself getting madder and madder and was afraid of what I might say to these people who were largely still asleep by the time we pulled out at 10 a.m.
I didn't want a scene so consequently I walked away, but I really did want to let them know how they had damaged everyone else's long weekend.
I have to wonder what happened after we left. Did others confront them, or do what we did?
I guess I will never know, and I am still second guessing my own decision. But it did make me see how a few can make the rest of us look so bad to those outside our sport.
And that is not good.