Smoky mountains? A respirator. Reflective fire blanket in case you are caught in a firestorm. Signalling device for rescue personnel. Seriously hope you don't damage your health taking unnecessary risks.
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REI promotes Fires as integral to "camping" and has succeeded in reinforcing this perception in the General Public. This is the image of "the outdoors" that has been packaged and sold to the public. Its all based around creating air pollution, and burning things- usually far away from population centers, where services are scarce, fire and rescue far away. These spaces have been organized for generations around a simple concept: Invite people to come, and start fires. Today, the public is coming out in a big way, dressed in plastic bags because they are afraid to get wet- driving giant gas guzzling vehicles so they can charge their cellphones- and bringing tons of wood to create air pollution where it isn't. Its time to stop this insane behavior. Clackamas and the other fires in California and elsewhere are caused by people who believe without reservation that "camping" is burning a load of wood- and garbage. I've been to many state and district parks over the last few very dry weeks. Almost without question, these people seem to believe that a fire is absolutely necessary or "something is missing". REI and the outdoor industry seem to promote this idea. I have seen many people arrive, set up all their RV and tents and stuff, and start a fire, and then just have a burning pit and column of smoke, for the next 8 hours, going for no or any reason at all. The firebugs sorely need to get the message that its no longer the public's responsibility to pay the massive costs of fires, or have to breathe their smoke, just because we want to visit nature. So lets not get twisted. A few of these fires were started by lightning. A lot of them were started by people, on public land with rules that have been crafted to accommodate people who like building open fires. These practices are promoted by companies as "recreation". What they've done is invite a kind of arson into the western states, in particular. Like the pollution scandals of Fluorocarbons, fish-killing insecticides, and microplastic pollution, the "outdoor industry" seems hell-bent on destroying the environment. The profit motive has collided with the stated goals of bringing people into nature, and the consequences have never been so stark or appalling. Perhaps the truth is, the whole idea of selling people stuff and promoting nature as an experience has unintended consequences beyond crowding at park campsites, air pollution, and wildfires. Perhaps it is destroying the experiences that they are promoting in the first place. I hate to say it but there is no reason for an organization to sell Nature to people who cannot appreciate it any other way than dressing in plastic bags and riding in on 4 wheels with electricity and fossil fuels. Hubris is ever present in every human endeavor, and recreation is no different, certainly not in an industry that feeds these trends. Its time for REI and the industries involved to change their ways, and educate people who cannot leave no trace that the sun is setting on their "way of life".
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