This post seems timely, at the end of a busy summer of free national parks entries because of Canada 150, larch madness, and just as we are transitioning into early season skiing with lots of eager skiers, but limited suitable options.
I'm not sure if it's a new phenomenon brought on by social media, but I've noticed that when someone posts some pictures from a hike on a Facebook group, it inspires people to go out an post pictures of that same hike, which doesn't really provide input on conditions of other hikes. When word of a new trail gets out, numbers quickly pile up in the new STRAVA segment, and it appears that trail is all that people are riding for the next couple of weeks. And when someone posts a staged picture from a viewpoint on Instagram, you can bet that you will see more of that in your "explore" feed.
I understand, our recreation time is limited and we want to make the
most of it. We want to go where good views, trails, conditions, and
photos are guaranteed. We buy stocks when the trading volume and price are going up rather than experimenting with other companies. So we follow tracks and go where we heard it was good two days ago.
Overflowing parking lots, traffic jams, crowded viewpoints. In the summer, these places become off limits unless you want to get up really early. In the winter, crowded areas create heuristic traps which trick otherwise rational skiers into taking dangerous risks. But one "social media network" is neglected: Avalanche Canada's Mountain information network (MIN). Why would anyone want to tell the world about conditions at a spot when they know it will get beat down by the hordes the next day? But these observations are important as they provide additional data points to avalanche forecasters and might be useful for estimating conditions in adjacent areas.
The guidebooks present a lot of great options and cost less than the gas needed for a trip to the mountains. Pick one up and explore some different spots. Make it your goal this winter to check out a new area and provide a valuable MIN report for the community.