Discouraging Desire

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“For many types of vegetation, as few as 15 people per year walking along the same route leave a discernible path.” Walking sociably two or more abreast, avoiding mud on a well worn path, exploring the edges of existing paths—all contribute to the break down and widening of existing paths. Erosion breeds further erosion. A visible path attracts further use. In some notable areas, such as Scarfell Pike in the Peak District, a single footstep into the peat soil can destroy decades of slow creation. Fencing, vegetation, signage—all are techniques to block the creation of desire paths. But social trails still puncture these barriers. Fences are climbed, hedges are cut, signage is ignored. “Minimum impact techniques are quick to adapt to changing conditions. Visitors must consider the variables of each place—soil, vegetation, wildlife, moisture, the amount and type of use the area receives, and the overall effect of their own use —and then…

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Secret Lines

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There are secret lines in the world, paths that want to exist. Not all are visible to anyone other than the person that perceives their need. But if enough people feel the same way—if enough act on the same desire for a path that does not already exist—it will appear for all to see. If it exists only in the mind and journey of one person, on one occasion—if the act of traveling that line leaves no visible trace, it will still exist.

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