2017-04-26 / Commentary

Earth Day Idiocy?

Cunningham's Corner
Douglas Cunningham


Above: The Breakneck Ridge flag as seen Saturday on Instagram. Below: Cunningham atop the first summit in 2015. Above: The Breakneck Ridge flag as seen Saturday on Instagram. Below: Cunningham atop the first summit in 2015. County is fortunate, blessed even, that so many great hikes traverse its hills and mountains. The Appalachian Trail even passes through Putnam, winding north and east from Garrison and Graymoor to Fahnestock park and thence north into Dutchess. The Great Swamp is another environmental treasure. And Fahnestock itself, still another (note that a good bit of the expansion in public land ownership in New York, and in Putnam, came under former Gov. George Pataki, of Garrison, a Republican).

I confess, Earth Day has never been on my list of really big holidays. I get it, I understand it, yes, but a big deal? Not for me. And Saturday was Earth Day, the 2017 incarnation of a commemoration/demonstration/ teachable moment that goes back to 1970.

And what a teachable moment it was for Earth Day 2017 in Putnam County. A mile or so north of Cold Spring exists one of the most highly regarded hikes in the Northeast: Breakneck Ridge. It offers stunning views from four different overlooks. It is a challenge, even for those who are physically fit. It has some rock scrambling, some height and a hell of a vertical ascent in its first 1500 feet. I have done it. I am amazed that more people are not injured doing it.


Douglas Cunningham is publisher and editor. Reach him at doug@pcnr.com. Letters to the editor, on this or other topics, are welcome. Send to editor@pcnr.com by 10 am Mondays. Douglas Cunningham is publisher and editor. Reach him at doug@pcnr.com. Letters to the editor, on this or other topics, are welcome. Send to editor@pcnr.com by 10 am Mondays. Alas, we now have confirmation that it doesn’t take a great deal of brainpower to climb Breakneck. To wit: Sometime on Saturday, unknown knotheads climbed the Breakneck Ridge flagpole at the first summit. They flipped the U.S. Flag to the upside down position, traditionally a sign of distress. And greased the pole so no one else could make immediate repairs easily. This was, according to photographs circulated on Instagram and other social media, perpetrated by “Hudson Valley Resist” for Earth Day 2017. Supposedly because of “Environmental Distress.” Get it, distress? What the upside down flag is supposed to signal?

I am distressed that people with such little respect for the flag are using it for their own cheap stunt. I am distressed that these people can’t pick up the trash along the trail. I am distressed that this passes for high art among hip environmentalists. I am distressed that Hudson Valley Resist is more worried about the supposed environmental damage President Trump is going to do than by the actual damage that occurs every weekend, unchecked, by the hordes and hordes and hordes of people who overrun Breakneck.

Distressing? Yes. But about the wrong thing.

A better model to follow is to pick up the trash, as a few did Saturday. To leave no trace. Until next week.

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