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The wrong place to sign in

Brief by Allen Best

Mountains – October 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

Everyone wants to leave his or her mark in life. Of late, some peak-baggers on 14,440-foot Mt. Elbert have taken to leaving notes of their conquests with felt-tip markers on summit rocks.

One of them recently made the faux pas of also leaving his e-mail address. This being the Internet age, he was quickly tracked down and also vilified in Internet bloggings.

Contacted by the Summit Daily News, Lewis Daugherty explained that he had made a mistake.

“It was my first 14er. It was a long hike. I was so happy I made it. I saw two other ones up there, and I just wanted to leave my mark. I didn’t know exactly it was wrong, and common sense-wise, I didn’t think about it.”

Other climbers, reports the newspaper’s Bob Berwyn, want to leave their marks in other ways, sometimes leaving goods on the summit. A U.S. Forest Service employee, Loretta McEllhiney, says she has removed plastic dolls, stuffed animals and even a 100-pound granite block.

Most summits have registers on which climbers can record their successful ascents.

Daugherty told the Summit Daily that he was amazed at how quickly he became the subject of web postings. “Within seven hours, they knew everything about me except my social security number … Somebody even sent an e-mail to my boss.”

He has now been up Mt. Elbert twice, the second time for the express purpose of scrubbing his name from the rock. But the experiences haven’t soured his experiences with the outdoors. He now plans more hiking — and also more acts of repentance.

“Just let me know what I can do to help,” he said. “Everybody’s done something stupid in their youth. I tried to make it good. If I have to pay any more consequences, I will, with no shame.”